Ever heard of “dark patterns”?

It’s got nothing to do with Stranger Things.

But, if you’re new to the art of UI and UX design, it’s a term you’ll need to acquaint yourself with. UX design is about empathy, aesthetics, and giving the user what they want. But, it’s also about business.

Privacy Zuckering is a form of a dark pattern. Yes, it’s named after Mark Zuckerberg.

What are dark patterns?

It’s when you’re voluntarily sharing more information about yourself to the world without being aware. You’re tricked into divulging more than you’d like to.

A host of other such methods make up dark patterns. Designers are often asked to keep the business first and the user second. They are tasked to create solutions that may seem like a good idea for the company, including user experience conversions and user conversion rates. They help the business boom but are bad for the user.

It taps into the user’s psyche to take advantage of their weaknesses.

Businesses can rake in more easily and quickly by manipulating a user to invest more (in user activity, spending, and behavior) in a particular service or product.

Take ‘confirmshaming’, for instance. Never heard of it? Well, you’ve probably already been a victim of it. Amazon is popular for doing it too.

What is confirmshaming?

Confirmshaming is guilting a user into opting for something. The text that accompanies that decline option is carefully chosen to make the user feel bad about their decision. Unfortunately, even websites with great UX do this.

Here’s a quick example. Suppose you’re reading a fascinating article on a popular website. Midway through, when you get to the juiciest part of the article, you’re confronted with a pop-up that asks you to pay for the article if you wish to continue reading.

You’re presented with two options – yes or no. But they look slightly different.

The options may look like this:

  1. Yes, I’m happy to pay for the article, or
  2. No, I won’t pay. I don’t like to spend.

Did the second option hit a nerve? Did it make you think of yourself as a miser? Did it prompt you to make that payment? After all, the website isn’t asking for too much.

While it’s a great way to get business, it’s a great way to lose users too.

More importantly, it’s wrong.

As a designer, there is a tremendous responsibility you must accept. If you ever forget, fall back on Dieter Ram’s principles for good design. Always remember that good design is useful, long-lasting, and honest.

So, what can UI and UX designers do to strike a balance between good UX design and business and improve UX?

First order of business – create a list of user experience goals.

List of User Experience Goals UX Designers Should Set

  1. Understanding UX design

Of course, UX design is all around. We draw inspiration from what we see, put our collective forces together, and listen to the user. Yet, creativity alone won’t make you an exceptional designer. Sometimes, we tend to forget what UX design entails and what a UX design site should look like.

When setting a list of user experience goals, start with a five-pronged approach:

  • Empathize with the user
  • Define the product to bring it to its final form
  • Keep going back to the drawing board and ideate
  • Create prototypes, and
  • Test the product with real users

When doing this, keep in mind that UI can’t exist without UX and vice-versa. For UI to take shape, the UX process must be robust.

  1. Be consistent and clear with your messaging

UX and UI design is often reduced to how well a message is conveyed. While content isn’t the only factor that can wreak havoc in your design, it certainly is a landmine. Our smartphones, tablets, and personal computers aren’t exactly the playgrounds for extensive literature, so we need to be especially careful and deliberate with the messaging.

Keep everything short. Write to be clear, not clever.

Offer the user clear and direct steps to perform a task or move to the next step. If the user is bombarded with too much text and information before moving on to the next step, they will lose interest.

When in doubt, borrow from the words of Steve Krug’s book, “Don’t Make Me Think”,

“Your objective should always be to eliminate instructions entirely by making everything self-explanatory, or as close to it as possible. When instructions are absolutely necessary, cut them back to a bare minimum.”

  1. Test the product with real users

Focus groups, individual users, Guerilla testing, personal phone interviews, card sorting, and session recordings are only a few useful and practical ways to understand the success or failure of your product.

Be open to criticism and honest feedback. Without your users, there is no product. Most designers make the mistake of rolling out a product or service and think that the hard part is over. Little do they know that the battle has only half begun.

Re-inventing the product, keeping up with the speed of how the world is changing along with shape-shifting user needs are paramount in molding a product. Hence, usability testing with real users should be crucial in setting UX goals.

  1. Make your users your cheerleader

Here are some

  • 28% believe that word-of-mouth increases brand value and affiliation.
  • 64% marketers agree that word-of-mouth is still the most effective marketing tool.

Getting your users talking should be one of the most important factors when creating a list of user experience goals. It’s the best publicity you can get. People talk for two reasons – (a) they are happy or (b) unhappy.

If you’ve made them happy, bravo, give yourself a pat on the back. But, if they are unhappy, what will you do to change that? Giving the customer what they want, or need isn’t just about creating a valuable product. It’s also about incorporating their feedback and making them heard.

It’s how they know you care.

UX design doesn’t have to be scary. The art of UX design begins with the art of listening and being empathetic.

By chalking out a list of UX goals, you will be able to steer conversations to conversations. Having a set list of goals also allows you to stay focused. Don’t just design for a user. Design for yourself. Aren’t you a user too?

Start listing your UX goals today. Connect with us to speak to an expert.


Are you looking for an experience-driven digital solution for your product or service?
Author Pepper Square
Over the last 20 years, we have helped 350+ leading companies maximize their outcomes with UI UX Design, UI Dev, Software Dev, and Analytics.

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