Recent Dark Patterns, Dribbble, Godaddy, Wizz Air - forced continuity, bait and switch, etc.’
Recent dark patterns I ran into
In my first article about dark patterns I wrote about forced continuity and by the time I finished the article, I decided, that I will write continuously about the dark patterns I run into, with the intention of highlighting what could be done differently and why these solutions might be harmful for the users.
Godaddy’s domain renewal method - another forced continuity dark pattern
I think this supplier is well known in the design community, not just because of the CEO’s hunting scandal back in the days, but the whole site is a precisely engineered flow of dark patterns to make visitors buy more additional goods during the shopping process and the checkout. This site uses the most precisely planned (but dumb) “Sneak into basket” dark pattern techniques, similar that budget airlines had years ago with adding additional extra services and charging more for low cost flights (they are a bit more consolidated nowadays).
The thing that made me write about the site is their domain renewal method. When you buy a domain at Godaddy, they try to amaze you with prices as low as one bucks or less, with a ‘/1st yr.’ note. / BTW: I can imagine that the company made A/B tests, and did find out that a ‘/1st yr’ copy converts more than the ‘for the first year’- because people are less likely to realise what they are buying, with the first option./
What they do is selling you a domain for a very cheap price, but the second year the domain will cost more than at any other supplier and of course they do not send a renewal warning before charging your credit card. This is a pretty bad example of forced continuity as well, but here comes the worst part- after you’ve been charged, and you are looking for a way to delete the transaction, you go into their refund policy page and realise that the only way you can delete a transaction is by telephone(!):
“You may cancel a product at any time, but a refund will only be issued if you request a refund via telephone with GoDaddy’s customer service within the refund timeframe specified for the applicable product, if available at all”.
So, deleting a domain renewal at the supplier company, that does all of it’s business online, should be done by calling them via telephone, and icing on the cake- you can’t find any phone numbers on the page, and can hardly find anywhere on their site. Imagine the rate of people who will make an international call (if you are not a US resident) for deleting a transaction and get a 10-12 USD refund. I hardly even think there can be a customer who does not let it go. This is the most annoying thing about these kinds of dark patterns, that the price is low enough for most people to let it go and not bother about it, but if you see the process as a whole, the company earns a lot of money with this unfair business technique.
Wizz Air’s Bait and Switch trap
At Wizz Air’s website, when you make a search, it opens a new tab automatically and directs you to booking.com with the desired location and travel period you selected for your flight. This dark pattern was a bit darker a couple of months ago. At least right now, they have a loading screen, with a text, that they are redirecting to their partner’s page. But still, it is a pretty sneaky dark pattern, if you think about how many other ways the company could use, to make this thing work by not using a dark pattern solution, but still making people visit a partner’s site. It is not just unethical, but I do not think that a company like booking.com requires this technique to get enough visitors, however they could easily be the task of my next dark pattern article (‘3 other people looking now’, etc, etc)
Email subscription at Dribbble.com
One site that you do not expect to apply dark pattern solutions is dribbble.comcreated by designers, for designers. Recently they displayed an email subscription option at their header. ‘Subscribe via Email’
Subscribe for what?
When you clicked on the link, it automatically subscribed you for something. What is the thing you exactly subscribe for remained a mystery. This was one of the mistake they made that is still not corrected. The other thing that makes this solution a pretty sneaky one is, that they put the subscription link next to the filter menu items, just as a part of the filter options, if you do not read the copy carefully, you will click on it..
When they published this solution, on the first version, after clicking on the subscribe link, it just disappeared! Subscription, never happened!
First version of the solution, after clicking on ‘Subscribe via Email’
On the current stage of the page, at least they display some verification information about the action, but it still can not be undone (only at your newsletter settings) and you still don’t know what you subscribed for exactly (as they have weekly and monthly newsletters, and other emails as well).
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