The Federal Trade Commission issued a detailed [staff report] on September 15 addressing Dark Patterns (or what some more descriptively call “manipulative design,” but Dark Patterns seems to be sticking). Regulators are focusing increased attention on these manipulative designs and it’s critical for marketing, user experience and design teams to understand this topic.
The staff report brings together two types of dark patterns you’ll see in use. The first manipulates consumers into purchasing, subscribing to or not canceling products or services. The item you think is a one-time purchase, but subscribes you to a recurring monthly purchase. The maze you’re sent through to cancel a subscription. The slight intentional delay added to a page to make it just a bit more unlikely that you’ll finish the unsubscribe process. The false statement on an order page that there’s only “One item left!” (isn’t it amazing how often that happens?). The variations are endless.
The second manipulates consumers into “agreeing” or “consenting” to give up information