Top brands have been accused of using tricks to deceive web users as part of a new campaign set up by a web design consultant.
Harry Brignull has set up the website Dark Patterns to expose the secrets that go behind website design and the use of intentionally misdirected elements to ‘force’ users to click on something they usually won’t.
Facebook, Yahoo, Ryanair and Comet are some of the big brands that are alleged to employ crafty tricks that snare an unsuspecting user into signing up for a membership, buying insurance they don’t need, or giving up personal information.
Tactics include trick questions, hidden charges and ‘sneaking’ products into web shopping baskets, said Brignull.
“They are the digital equivalent of a supermarket manager putting something in your trolley when you are not looking,” he said. “They are taking all the principles of good design and inverting them for nefarious purposes. There are quite a number of big brands who are using dark patterns like dirty tricks.”
The site is Brignull’s attempt to help educate web-users on common tricks employed used to lure unsuspecting customers. The companies are not being accused of anything illegal but Brignull wanted to expose the cunning methods from an ‘ethical point of view’.
The practices rely on the fact that web shoppers often ‘scan read’ sites and may miss added items or conditions.
Others may be in a rush or are simply internet novices, Brignull said. “These things rely on an element of human error,” he added. “They are targeting people who are perhaps less savvy on the web. Aggressive business practices have been around since business has and this is the online version of it.”
Some of the top web tricks mentioned on dark paterns are listed below:
‘Disguised Ads’: Predominantly used in download sites, where the word “Download”