How online organisations deceive users with design features
This brick focuses on Dark Patterns, which are types of user interfaces that trick users into sharing more data, or spending more money, than they intend to.
Questions? contact the creators!
This educational unit contains:
- Ad hoc slides
- Ideas for possible teaching and assessment approaches
- To demonstrate a clear understanding of the concepts and models associated with dark patterns
- To critically assess and evaluate computer interfaces for potential dark patterns
- To review and assess relevant literature, incorporating legislation, policy, directives, academic journals and industry standards
- To relate concepts associated with ethics to the development and evaluation of dark patterns
- To select and evaluate models of UX and psychological model that can be used to explain the effectiveness of dark patterns
- To compare and contrast how different types of dark patterns use different psychological factors (Trust, Ignorance, Fear, Greed, Moral duty, Urgency, Panic, Anger) to succeed
- Suitable for teaching in Computer Science and Other courses
- Disciplines: Computer Science, Design, UIX
Suggested teaching approaches
Initiate a class discussion reviewing each of the patterns taught in class. Get each of the students to select which one they think is the most unethical. Count which ones get the most votes, and which ones get the least.
Focus the discussion on how different people define “unethical”. Some might have ranked as worst the one which has the worst impact on the user, others might have chosen the one that is most concealed, others the one that is most technically complex, others the one that breaches UX principles. Of course, there’s no right answer!
It suits best classes with more than 20 students.
Suggested assessment approaches
Ask your students to write a paper about Dark Patterns
Here are some indications and tips you can provide to your students:
- The paper should be made up of two main parts, a literature review section, and experiment section, plus conclusions and references.
- The Literature Review Section
- This section must explore at least three papers on the topic of Dark Patterns, one of which must be the seminal paper Gray, C. M., Kou, Y., Battles, B., Hoggatt, J., and Toombs, A. L. (2018) The dark (patterns) side of UX design. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-14).
- For each paper, provide a 300-400 word summary, including an introduction and a description of the experiment in the paper, and mention some of the key conclusions of the paper. Select one diagram from the paper to include and comment in your review.
- The Experiment Section
- This section will document your own exploration of a site that uses one or more Dark Patterns. It should include screenshots and a description of the context and implementation of the Dark Patterns.
- Conclusions Section
Conclusions are expected to be 300-500 words.
All references should be in Harvard format.
- Dark Patterns: Past, Present, and Future. The evolution of tricky user interfaces by Narayanan, Mathur, Chetty, and Kshirsagar
- Chromik, M., Eiband, M., Völkel, S.T., and Buschek, D. (2019) Dark Patterns of Explainability, Transparency, and User Control for Intelligent Systems. IUI Workshops
- Özdemir, Ş (2020) Digital nudges and dark patterns: The angels and the archfiends of digital communication. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities 35(2). DOI:10.1093/llc/fqz014
Gray, C.M., Chen, J., Chivukula, S.S., and Qu, L. (2021) End User Accounts of Dark Patterns as Felt Manipulation. Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact. 5, CSCW2, Article 372. DOI:10.1145/3479516
Di Geronimo, L., Braz, L., Fregnan, E., Palomba, F., and Bacchelli, A. (2020) UI Dark Patterns and Where to Find Them: A Study on Mobile Applications and User Perception. In Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’20). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 1–14. DOI:10.1145/3313831.3376600
- Ethics for Designers
- The Ethical Design Handbook
- Ethics for Designers
- The principles of ethical design (and how to use them)
- Design Ethics Vs Dark Side UX
- The only guide to UX ethics you’ll ever need
- 7 Ethical Design Examples To Make Facebook Better For Everyone
- Design Ethics
- Sustainability and Design Ethics
- List of virtues
Evaluate your Teaching
Don’t forget to evaluate your teaching! Did the students meet the learning objectives? You can ask the class to fill a questionnaire to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. The idea is that you can always improve your lectures and the resources based on the students’ feedback.
Let us know how we did
Do you think the resources can be ameliorated? Let us know how we can do better via email or leave a comment!