Brighton SEO – Dark Patterns – Black Hat user interfaces – Dr Harry Brignull ( @harrybr ) #brightonseo

In BrightonSEO, The Digital Marketing Blog, Trainingby NickLeave a Comment

“Dark Patterns – Black Hat user interfaces” is a talk being held by Dr Harry Brignull – Senior User Experience Designer at Clearleft (

The talk is about the tricks and traps of bad user interfaces that are designed to trick people, usually into paying more for something, or ticking a box they don’t actually need to.

First example up is the NHS donor register and how in the UK you have to opt in to be part of it. In other countries you automatically get entered into donor registration and have to opt out. The result is that the rate of people opting out is much lower than those opting in, resulting in a healthy amount of organ donors.

Moves on to the Oxfam site and how the donation call to action is in the middle of the page. Questioned if its ethical. Yes, yes it is, even though you might accidentally make monthly donations instead of a one off donation but as it has social benefits then its fine.

Comet website kindly puts a Ipad case for £30 automatically in your basket when you buy an Ipad, without asking. Is this Ethical? No, no its not. You might buy it anyway if you didn’t notice or noticed after you bought it (and a bit stupid I imagine, you should totally shop around for them to get the best price. This is SEO after all…)

Few more examples of bad user interfaces until the “evil genius award” is announced and it goes to the Ryanair site! They use many “black hat” style tactics to rip you off including hiding the option to NOT buy travel insurance from them in the “country of residence” drop down menu (random), whats more, unless you look for it (located between Latvia & Lithuania) then you’ll be charged for travel insurance. Thats very annoying.

We’re left with a warning that it is becoming so common place to try and rip people off using “black hat” web design that its sending a message out to the younger brands who are starting to think that is normal……

Really informative, you can check out Harrys Twitter at:

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