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Dark Times for Dark Patterns

Talking downsides and alternatives to manipulative design practices at SXSW in Texas

When my colleague Cristina and I discovered our mutual distaste for misleading design patterns, and curiosity for finding alternatives, we decided to pitch the idea as a talk at South by South West Interactive 2016.

Dark patterns were a popular topic. Lots of people were writing up examples, but we felt few were talking about how to recognise a dark pattern, or how to deal with it.

We divided the talk into three sections. First, a set of questions to ask, to decide if a technique is deceptive. Second, demonstrating dark patterns alongside techniques which could meet the same goal honestly and persuasively. Lastly, arguing that dark patterns are effective in the short term, but not worth the long term damage to your public image.

We refined our talk by presenting to colleagues and meetups, and I presented a condensed, pecha kucha format for a BIMA meetup after our return from Texas.

Check out my writeup on identifying dark patterns, the slide deck, an audio recording from the SXSW talk, or a full video of the first public showing at Outreach Digital meetup.

Sketch notes from a SXSW audience member

Sketch notes by @honoria, a SXSW audience member