Dark patterns are tricks used in websites that make the user do things that he or she didn't mean to, like subscribing to a newsletter or buying something.

Trick questions

A common dark pattern when registering with a service is a series of checkboxes with alternated meaning. For instance, ticking the first one means "opt-out," and the second means "opt-in".

This is an example of two checkboxes with different meanings.

Roach motel

It's called a roach motel when it's easy to get into a particular situation, but then makes it hard to get out of it (e.g., a subscription).

This is an example of a subscription canceling modal with two contact buttons and one cancel button.

Friend spam

When the website asks for your email or social media permissions pretending it's going to use it for finding your friends. Eventually spamming all of your contacts and acting to be you.

Here is an example of this dark pattern once used by Linkedin. This action resulted in them being fined 13 million dollars.
Here is an example of this dark pattern once used by LinkedIn. This action resulted in them being fined 13 million dollars.

Bait and switch

There is a sign of bait and switch when the user sets out to do one thing, but a different, unwanted action happens instead.

This is an example of a prominent CTA button and a subtle disclaimer about added costs.

Disguised ads

Disguised ads are adverts blended into the page in such a way that it looks like it's part of the content or navigation. With the sole purpose of tricking you into clicking on them.

In this example, we see an advertisement that looks like a download button, tricking users into clicking on it.
In this example, we see an advertisement that looks like a download button, tricking users into clicking on it instead of the actual download button beneath.

Sneak into basket

This dark pattern occurs when you want to buy something, and the site sneaks an additional item into your basket.

This is an example of a checkout page with a unwantedly added item in it.

Misdirection

Misdirection is the act of purposefully focusing the user's attention on one thing to distract their attention from another.

This is an example of a prominent CTA button and a subtle text link to cancel.

FOMO

There is a sign of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) when users are tricked into thinking an item is in high demand. This puts them under pressure to make a quick buying decision.

Here we see an example from Booking.com prominently telling the user that there is just one room left at these hotels.
Here we see an example from Booking.com prominently (in red) telling the user that there is just one room left at these hotels.

Confirmshaming

Confirmshaming is when you make a user feel bad about opting into something. The option to decline is designed in such a way that the user shames into compliance.

Confirmshaming