You are scrolling through the Internet to source material for an assignment, and come across an insightful article on an EdTech platform that covers your required topic. At the bottom is a large sign announcing a free demo course on related topics, and you decide to go for it, because why not? It’s free, after all. While signing up, you are asked to enter both your personal and credit details. But they’re not asking you to make any actual transactions so you fill all details without much thought.
Then the free trial ends and you somehow find yourself automatically subscribed to a paid course on the same platform. You rack your brain, trying to recall when you had enrolled for it in the first place and that is when it strikes you- the website has used the data you had provided for a free trial to coerce you into becoming a paid subscriber. This is a common case of deceptive web design; whereby naïve consumers are deceived into making decisions that are of more benefit to the business owners than to themselves.
What is a Deceptive Design?
Deceptive design, also known as dark patterns, is when the page content is manipulated to misdirect users, scrape their personal data, and coerce them into making unintended choices. Unnecessary forms and questionnaires, confusing language, misleading visuals- these are some of the common elements of deceptive design.
While shady sales tactics have existed through the ages, it was the digital age that changed the game for deception in business. As ecommerce boomed, businesses came under the pressure of creating online awareness to boost conversions. Consequently, they resorted to deceptive design to increase visitors on their page and collect consumer data to expand their database for future marketing campaigns.
Techniques of Deceptive Web Design
The Dangers of Deceptive Web Design
Deceptive designs can be beneficial to the site owners but they are a sure cause of poor customer experience to the users. Falling prey to dark patterns is frustrating and can repel customers away from your business. In fact, a HubSpot survey has confirmed that 80% people stop doing business with a company due to unsatisfactory or poor customer experience.
Brands usually resort to deceptive web designs to increase traffic on their sites and expand their database for outreach. But the irony here is that this uncalled-for practice actually prevents the brand from having a loyal customer base as no one wants to continue buying from a deceptive source.
If your dark patterns on the web are recognized, your brand image will be tarnished big time, more so if you are a reputed name in the market. For instance, Microsoft faced a massive backlash when they automatically initialized the upgrade from Windows OS to Windows 10, even when the user clicked on the ‘X’ button on the pop-up window for the same.
Diminishing the dangers of Deceptive Web Design
Customers today are becoming increasingly aware of the many deceptions spread across the Internet, and they value clean and honest web design that is true to its purpose. So for businesses that aim for increasing customer retention in order to create a base of loyal brand advocates, it is essential to use ethical design practices over shady, deceptive ones. Ensure transparency in your web design, value the privacy of the visitors on your site and prioritize good UX over attracting random traffic.
If design is not your area of expertise, then best leave the matter to the experts. Digital Polo is a full-service design agency, providing umbrella solutions for all your designing needs. Our approach is entirely ethical and we take pride in delivering all assignments within 48 hours, with the extra benefit of unlimited revisions. Get in touch with our team to steer clear from the dangers of deceptive web design and grow your business sustainably with result-oriented transparent designs.