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Dark Patterns


Everything is designed to influence you in one way or another. Sometimes this is for your benefit, sometimes… not so much. By using visual tricks that tap into how our brains work, designers can make you do things that you may not actually want to do. These tricks are called DARK PATTERNS. 

CONFIRMSHAMING is a DARK PATTERN that is often found on website pop-ups advertising “special offers” or subscriptions to newsletters. The pop-up’s close button often uses manipulative language, for example ‘No, I don’t like saving money,’ in an attempt to convince you to interact with the pop-up and end up buying or signing-up for something you don’t actually want.

Such statements often conflict with our personal attitudes, thoughts, and/or beliefs. This mental conflict is called COGNITIVE DISSONANCE and creates discomfort by going against our natural human desire for consistency. The designer is hoping you will alleviate this discomfort by interacting with the pop-up instead of closing it. 

On top of this, designers also use SIZE and COLOUR to attract attention to the button they want you to click while using low contrast colours, small text, and unconventional positioning to make the close button difficult to notice and read.

Recognising that these big shiny buttons are simply trying to manipulate you, alleviates the COGNITIVE DISSONANCE and makes you less susceptible to these tricks in the future.

Game Development by Innes White
Design by Zoe Arlidge-Lyon