I have been thinking about this a lot - when does persuasive design become a dark pattern in your opinion? How do you agree on where the line is within your design/product team?
When it stops serving the user and starts serving only the company even if it is hurting the users.
Think of it like this: Does the design help customers achieve success? Or does the design help otherwise bought-in customers overcome barriers?
Going further: is the design informed by both qualitative and quantitative research, or is the design just gaming metrics?
Answers to those questions can be guideposts for what to consider a dark pattern in the context of your product.
A dark pattern applied in one context may be totally benign in another context, and vice versa. Keeping what matters to the customer central to design decisions should help keep you anchored on the right things.
Something else to consider is that more longitudinal customer success metrics applied to different cohorts can also help surface to what extent the persuasive design was a dark pattern.
Did a bunch of users convert, only to have their expectations violated downstream? I know retrospective assessments like that aren’t ideal, but it’s another good guardrail if you’re toeing the line.
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