The More you Know: Dark Patterns in Web Design Used to Rip You Off

Ever signed up for something without realizing it, or checkout out of an ecommerce website only to find you’re enrolled in a subscription program? It happens to the best of us.

Confusopoly (aka Dilbert’s confusopoly) is an economic and marketing term referring to a purposeful act by a seller or group of sellers to confuse the buyer in order to ease the sale.

These dark patterns trick unsuspecting users into a gamut of actions: setting up recurring payments, purchasing items surreptitiously added to a shopping cart, or spamming all contacts through prechecked forms on Facebook games. These dark paterns just aren’t on the web, the The Columbia House mail-order music club of the ’80s and ’90s is a perfect example.

London-based UX designer Harry Brignull has documented it. Brignull’s website, darkpatterns.org, offers plenty of examples of deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces.

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