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It’s 2018; the age of the customer! And our younger generations are more savvy than ever before. Time to change, if your website is exploiting any questionable conversion tactics… With this in mind, let’s dive into some of the best (by that I mean, worst) examples of cunning dark patterns designed to inadvertently convert visitors.

  • DG

    Dana Gore

    about 1 month ago #

    Thank you for sharing what I'd consider an important message - and that's about having integrity.
    The absence of morals really doesn't pay in the end - and I'm not surprised to hear that even the bigger companies use a tactic that's anything other than ethical.
    I think people will get a lot out of this as they know what to look for. Great post.

    • SH

      Sam Hurley

      about 1 month ago #

      Cheers Dana! It's often the bigger companies that feel they can get away with it — Beyond dark patterns, have you heard about T-Mobile and their multi-million fines? (Really manipulative stuff). Though, it doesn't stop them. They just acquired another company for many billions! Food for thought...

      Sadly, it CAN pay in the short-term. But for long-term love? Definitely not!

      Thanks for reading, :D
      -Sam-

    • EE

      Erik Emanuelli

      about 1 month ago #

      Some people would do anything to sell, right Dana?
      I absolutely agree with you. Any company should pay attention of being honest and respectful to their customers. As you said, in the long term, the absence of moral could kill any business.

      • SH

        Sam Hurley

        about 1 month ago #

        People first, revenue second ... Because revenue comes anyway, if you put people first! <3

  • LR

    Lorraine Reguly

    about 1 month ago #

    This is the first time I have heard of "dark patterns."

    I agree that no one likes feeling like they have been forced into something, and it's sad to see that companies are doing this to people.
    I'd never do that to a customer (or even a potential customer)!

    I believe in treating people right... with respect.

    • SH

      Sam Hurley

      about 1 month ago #

      #WORD! I bet this piece was a bit of a shock then, Lorraine?

      After the research, I am still open-mouthed ... Plain crazy, and saddening!

      I hope the GIF at the end raised a smile, albeit a painful one. LOL. :D
      -Sam-

    • EE

      Erik Emanuelli

      about 1 month ago #

      Agreed.
      In life, as well in business, people (customers) should be treated with respect.
      They are, indeed, the most important "asset" of any businesses.

      • SH

        Sam Hurley

        about 1 month ago #

        The way customers feel about brands is very much the result of how brands treat them — Just like relationships 'in real life'! :)))

  • PV

    Philip Verghese

    about 1 month ago #

    Great Alert!
    Great Alert!
    Thanks, @sam___hurley for this timely alert.
    Yes, online users need to be more vigilant on these dark sides of Dark Patterns'
    Thanks, @erikemanuelli for the curation here.
    Keep sharing.
    I am sharing this great alert news to my online friends via my social networks.
    May you both have a wonderful and profitable week ahead.
    Best
    ~ Phil

    • SH

      Sam Hurley

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Phil!

      Thanks so much for your feedback — I'm glad to hear you found it interesting enough to share with your network. :)))

      YOU ROCK! Have a booming week,
      -Sam-

    • EE

      Erik Emanuelli

      about 1 month ago #

      Ahahah!
      Thanks for the feedback, Phil :)
      Don't fall to the dark side!

  • JH

    Joy Healey

    about 1 month ago #

    This great article reminded me just how many times I have been left furious with online transactions.

    Although much milder than many of the examples here, "No, I do NOT want more traffic to my blog" is one that make me go "grrrr".

    My poor son fell for the Windows 10 upgrade, and his aged PC couldn't cope with it (Microsoft should have known from looking at his installation) and he was left with a half done mess that took him ages to unravel.

    One of the lesser known train ticket booking sites here in the UK would give me availabilities and prices, I would contact a friend to see if these were OK, then when I went back to the site (half an hour later) the prices had gone up. Or had they? Not if you cleared cookies / used another PC or even went onto a competitor's site. They caught me twice, but I never used them since. I go straight to their competitor.

    Then there are the "free offers, just pay £1 for P&P" that commit you to a monthly subscription that's almost impossible to get out of by the time you realise you subscribed....

    AND.... when you're downloading some (free?) software and the button you SEE as the clickable one is the one that actually downloads some ad-ware that takes over your browser and proves well-nigh impossible to uninstall.

    I really cannot see how people expect to build loyalty by tricking their customers. SO shortsighted.

    Thanks for raising awareness of these dark patterns and educating customers. Great share, great article.

    • EE

      Erik Emanuelli

      about 1 month ago #

      I was nodding while reading your comment, Joy.
      It's a shame, if you think how many companies are using those techniques to sell a little more...As you do, many cheated users remember the name of the business and a negative word of mouth can do a lot to destroy their name. This is karma.

      • SH

        Sam Hurley

        about 1 month ago #

        Churn and burn tactics, my friend. Many biz owners with this mentality will just shut shop if word gets out, and start a 'new' business under a different name. A lot of hassle for most, but others find it a breeze (wherever more 'easy' money is involved).

    • SH

      Sam Hurley

      about 1 month ago #

      Ohhhh I feel your pain, Joy!

      Those pop-ups are the worst. "No, I don't want to learn more and better myself to make more money because I'm a sh*t person..." — LOL.

      Your son should have joined the lawsuit against MS! :D So bad...

      Funnily enough, I was considering including a certain train website — Maybe it's the same one!!! Tons of the hotel booking sites do this, too. It's shameful, but I bet it does the trick many a time!

      I've actually been caught out by those 'ads' that look like download buttons. CNET is one of the worst websites for that sort of stuff! It's just insane this all still goes on in 2018 ... The era of the customer (supposedly!).

      Really loved your thoughts / experiences here, Joy! Thanks so much for sharing!!!
      -Sam-

  • LS

    Lisa Sicard

    about 1 month ago #

    Wow Sam, I can't believe businesses still use those tactics today to lure customers to do what they want them to do on their websites. I know my father got lured into one a year ago he got messages his computer was not working any ended up paying $500. He could not wait a day to be able to use email and didn't ask myself for my sister before going ahead with the service :(
    I hope scams like that will be less and less in the near future. Thanks for writing about this important topic Sam!

    • EE

      Erik Emanuelli

      about 1 month ago #

      Wow, sorry to hear about your father's bad experience online.
      Indeed, Lisa, those are SCAMs. Not just sneaky marketing and selling techniques.

    • SH

      Sam Hurley

      about 1 month ago #

      It's staggering, isn't it Lisa!!! :-O

      That's so sad about your father ... I bet that annoyed you no end! :-/

      The amount of times I've had to check my family's PCs etc due to those sorts of pop-ups is ridiculous. You can imagine how the elderly likely just click because things look so genuine at times...

      Scaremongering is one of the worst, legal forms of dark pattern today. I feel the most aggressive types should be banned!

      Thanks so much for reading, my friend!
      -Sam-

  • MN

    Mymagicfundas Nirmala

    about 1 month ago #

    Dark Patterns - Great Topic! I enjoyed reading the post, thanks for the wonderful article Sam. I always use white hat strategies for making the conversions. Anyway, I have learned a lot through the "What To Do Instead" topic. It is really shocking to know about Microsoft :-( User experience should be focussed and yes, it is good to skip the bad tactics. Thanks for writing the wonderful topic Sam, you always do a great job. Thanks, Erik for the nice share!

    • SH

      Sam Hurley

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Nirmala! Thanks so much for reading! :)

      I'm glad you appreciated the 'what to do instead' sections ... I felt a lot of articles out there lacked this element. I'm happy you thought to mention this! :D

      Yeah, the Windows 10 fail was awful ... Even worse is actually imagining the design + sales teams planning it together. Sends shivers down my spine!

      I mega appreciate your positive feedback! :)))
      -Sam-

    • EE

      Erik Emanuelli

      about 1 month ago #

      White Hat and honest techniques go long way, Nirmala.
      I will always choose the Light side of the Force. :)

  • RC

    Reginald Chan

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Erik,

    Great share! Love the part about having integrity. That's critical and you will be surprised how many companies actually practice that in real life today!

  • RC

    Ravi Chahar

    30 days ago #

    Hey Erik,

    Sam has covered some important points. I really get annoyed with the popups to force me to subscribe or to do something similar. I liked the way how PostFunnel is dealing with it.

    I really loved this line. "Be sincere and treat any user action with the same level of respect". That's what we need to follow.
    Thanks for this informative article.

    ~Ravi

    • EE

      Erik Emanuelli

      29 days ago #

      Yeah, I've always hated pop-ups, since when I first landed on the Internet.
      Maybe, this is the reason I've never used them in any of my websites.

      • SH

        Sam Hurley

        29 days ago #

        Me too, pal! Although they CAN work well, when used 'right' and not excessively...

        There is a certain marketing website from a disengaged influencer that is absolutely terrible for it ... You can't scroll a few seconds without them popping up again and again and again. You might know the site, and it's such a shame as it generally has tons of good content.

        As a result of the popups, I removed it from all my social sharing completely. ** SIGH **

    • SH

      Sam Hurley

      29 days ago #

      Thanks a ton, Ravi! xD PostFunnel have done an amazing job. Their strategy is exemplary! <3

      *Anything* that's forced is never going to win the heart of the customer. It's as simple as that — Brands that do it the right way, will always stand the test of time...

      Appreciate your feedback here, pal!
      -Sam-

  • SA

    Swadhin Agrawal

    30 days ago #

    Readers are much more aware than they were and website visitors look for one thing when they shop - trust! If you can't win their trust, if you have no integrity, I think this will make you pay in the long run :)

  • SH

    Sam Hurley

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey @erikemanuelli! :D

    Cheers a bunch for posting here — Surprising what SOME brands do to convert, right?! :-O

    Which dark pattern particularly caught your eye?

    I was really stunned at the lottery website ... Really bad tactics. I'm now very wary with each click!!!

    Speak soon,
    -Sam-

    • EE

      Erik Emanuelli

      about 1 month ago #

      Hi Sam!
      That was a nice piece to read. Kudos for being so creative!

      All "dark patterns" are very interesting, but #4: Scaremongering, particularly catched my attention. Aside learning a new word, I should say this is a very sneaky way to sell. A big No-No!

      • SH

        Sam Hurley

        about 1 month ago #

        Cheers Erik! :D Really glad you loved it ... It was fascinating research to conduct! :o)

        Those Corsadyl ads are so bad — The product is actually great (I used it before the shock tactics); there's really no need for scaremongering!

        Such a shame... :-(

  • TC

    Tad Chef

    about 1 month ago #

    Yeah, just the other day an article that went trending on GH was advocating using fear etc. to trick people into buying.

    When I suggested that it was unethical both the author and a commenter (sounded like a sock-pupet) expressed their lack of understanding and dismay almost using the same words in both comments.

    According to them marketing is about making people buy by any means possible it seems.

    • SH

      Sam Hurley

      about 1 month ago #

      Tad ... This is madness! :-O

      Crazy it was trending here. WoW.

      Respect for airing your views ... I'm just amazed this stuff is STILL everywhere today. Baffles me!!!

      The problem? People still fall for it. And if people continue to fall for it — It'll sadly always exist.

      ** SIGH **

      Thanks for reading + commenting here, pal! :o)
      -Sam-

  • BP

    Brenda Pace

    28 days ago #

    Whoa! What a fab read! Dark patterns? Does it have a name? Baiting and Switching is a major bummer. I despise it! Actually, I despise anything that tries to trick me into buying more than what I absolutely need. We all don't have money trees growing in our yard, ya know? The Guilt Trip is a big naughty. the animal commercial pull my heartstrings and I want to help so desperately, however, I feasible can't help them all, right? And then you have these movies starts that are doing the narrative and I'm like "Wait a minute! You make oodles of dollars! You help them!" The same thing happens with ads. Very shady marketing. And lastly, the Surprise Costs. Yeah, I've been had before. A few times. Enough so that I canceled my order just for principal. I appreciate this read. It really goes to show how shady marketing can be.

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