Category: User Experience

  • PayTM and the dark pattern in Postpaid

    Usage of dark patterns by payments app PayTM as documented by The Ken Web. Details in twitter thread below.

    As the Data Protection bills come to light, Dark Patterns must also be banned in India.

  • Amazon App splash screen dark pattern

    Amazon App Launch page

    So I checked the Amazon app after a few months. Just for reference, Amazon App Logo changed from this to this.

    At first I was looking for the old Amazon logo by memory, after finding no results, i realized, the logo has changed.

    Amazon App Logo Icon Changes

    What got me irrirated was the splash screen was now full lenght screen. With no way out for the user.

    Look at the full screen below

    Amazon App Splash Screen no exit routes

    Turns out they’ve force you to choose a Prime plan. There is no way to exit the flow. Youur only option is to close and restart the app.

    Now imagine users who don’t know restart is an exit route.

    Implications

    • The Gen X userbase in India would be forced to add a card.
    • The subscription would continue and they would get a shock.

    This is what happens when unethical and immoral business requirements enforce a user experience against the user needs/wants.

    How to get rid of this

    Businesses with the technology and monopoly would always have control and dicatate what their users can and can not get. In my understanding regulation is the only way to tackle this. I am not sure if such dark patterns are covered in the regulations like this California ban on dark patterns. If not, it should. Such regulations are a good starting point.

    Update

    So i checked the amazon app again yesterday and was pleasantly surprised that they have updated the splash screen to make it more explicit and made the options to continue without forcing to signup for prime.

    Apart from the actions, we can see clear description in text on what the user can expect.

    Updated Amazon App Splash Screen with Clear actions and descriptions.

    #darkpatterns

  • Hire for ability and skills while being cognizant of the contextual limitations.

    I came across this LinkedIn post by Patrick Neeman. As a designer who has worked in multiple contexts i can relate to it. I have worked at large organizations where the design team was in double digits to startups with 2 designers and solo designer. Having seen all the constraints be it business, politics, technology or design maturity, i can appreciate the limitations that designers have in exercising their skills. I have also experienced that the hiring managers do judge candidates basis what candidates did without taking cognizance of the context.

    Some more contexts that the decision makers should be conscious like, access to users, nature of product (Enterprise vs Consumer), focus on interaction with no focus on research.

    Post

    A designer’s success is so much about the situational context that it alone can determine what they were able to deliver in an environment. We judge on delivery versus what was even possible to deliver.

    This needs to change.

    There should be an open conversation about the organization they worked for and whether or not it was even possible to move the needle. Authenticity and transparency should be the rule during interviews, not the exception.

    The situation may take many forms: a code poor base, a non-strategic business model, poor management, or an underfunded UX team that doesn’t have the resources to do their job well.

    All of these are beyond the designer’s control. That should be the start of the conversation, not the end.

    In a realistic world, they’re acknowledged upfront — an excellent way to discover them is the STAR interview format — and then discuss what was learned.

    Candidates can be judged based on the skills they bring to the organization over a Potemkin Village resume that drafts off of others more so than the skills they bring.

    That would level the playing field more that anything else: it would open opportunities up to candidates that have been in difficult environments and shown resilience in the face of adversity versus a big name on the resume.

    Patrick Neeman

    As Patrick rightly puts across, the decision makers which includes recruiters and not just hiring managers, must make this as conscious consideration in their hiring process. It will also contribute if the candidates who experience this, share the concerns with the recruiters.

  • EU banned Tesla from using Auto Pilot in communication

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-autopilot-germany/german-court-bans-tesla-ad-statements-related-to-autonomous-driving-idUSKCN24F1T5

    So Tesla, has been banned at-least temporarily to not display

    Dieter Rams

    It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

    Dieter Rams

    Tesla with its lies and deceptive marketing has taken many lives. There are already few cases going on against Tesla for misleading advertising leading to death.

    It said such claims amounted to misleading business practices, adding that the average buyer might be given the impression that the car could drive without human intervention and might suggest such a system was now legal on German roads.

    Reuters
  • Dark Pattern at Quora.com

    The Email from Quora

    So as usual Quora does, i got an email, if i can answer “X” question because i answered “Y” related question, years ago.

    I clicked on it with the intention to unsubscribe. When i clicked on the link, i was auto-logged in.

    Hmm… that was smart and efficient. I don’t have to remember my password and the login steps are out of the way. Then i decided to log out.

    How do i log-out ?

    As the typical universal pattern for Log Out / Setting and Option goes

    • i clicked on my profile picture.
    • scanned, for log out.
    • did not find it.
    • closed the profile call-out.
    • scanned elsewhere

    Can you take this quick test ?

    In 5 Seconds, find out how to logout.

    IMP: Get into a User mode and not a Designer Or Critic Mode.

    Quora Logged In Snapshot
    Quora Landing Page
    Quora.com Profile Callout
    (smaller version for mobile)

    This is very well crafted design, by intent the Business doesn’t want to dissuade the user from logging out.

    Observations

    As for any user, it would be really difficult to find the log-out link.

    The Dark Pattern Rises

    I was almost convinced that logout link is not in this call out. But, i was committed to logout, i tried to find other places on the header…. Still nothing.

    So i clicked it on the profile picture again, and scanned each text carefully.
    There it was. Intentionally demoted visually.

    Quora Logout Dark Pattern
    Quora Logout Dark Pattern
    Quora.com Profile Callout
    (smaller version for mobile)

    So from an Information Perspective, Quora does know that it’s important for users to find log-out link.

    But it doesn’t want the user to find it easily. So they cheat the hierarchy.

    I also quickly checked few of the popular software’s and sites for similar task. And they have it very clear.

    Other Popular Sites

    Reflecting

    I even thought that this was not a dark pattern, but it was indeed done with good intent. Intent with an assumption that user would not want to logout… But then, the answer would be simple, if user does not intend to logout, he’d not initiate that action.

    When Business Triumphs user needs

    This is what happens when Business need is forced over the user. Some product manager is given a metric to chase, say.
    – How many authenticated users per month ?

    Quora is not alone

    I’m not frequent on Quora. But I am frequent on LinkedIn and LinkedIn has a ton of dark patterns. Probably for some other blog post (it will need a series)

    Fact: I did not actually logout there, but the Designer within me prompted me to write this post. Oh we designers.

    What if I was asked to design this ?

    Its easy to criticize sitting switching tabs in browser. Enough designers do that already. What would i have done if i was the designer and PM/Business head came to me asking to get X metric.

    I think i would start with a “5 Whys” , maybe a few more whys to determine root cause / intent of the PM/Business head and then suggest an alternative which wont be a dark pattern.