dark pattern

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Coined by user-experience consultant Harry Brignull in 2010.[1]


dark pattern (plural dark patterns)

  1. (neologism, graphical user interface) A user interface that is intentionally designed to trick users into doing things, such as giving up more information, or agreeing to unfavourable terms.
    It was really easy to register an account on the app, but the option to delete my account seemed almost impossible, which made me feel like a victim of a dark pattern.
    • 2014, Chris Lewis, Irresistible Apps: Motivational Design Patterns for Apps, Games, and Web-based Communities:
      The Impersonation dark pattern occurs when these broadcasts communicate actions users never performed, thus misleading others.
    • 2015, Nicolai Marquardt, Proxemic Interactions: From Theory to Practice, page 140:
      Brignull's specific goal in identifying dark patterns was to recognize and name companies, and describe their dark practices so that people would be aware of dark patterns in an interface, and to shame the companies using them.
    • 2021 January 14, Norwegian Consumer Council, You can log out, but you can never leave[2]:
      Consumers are faced with dark patterns on a daily basis; whether they want to use an online retailer, unsubscribe from a service, protect their privacy, and in many other situations.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ Jennifer Valentino-DeVries (2019-06-24), “How E-Commerce Sites Manipulate You Into Buying Things You May Not Want”, in New York Times[1]: “Web designers and consumers have been highlighting examples of dark patterns online since Harry Brignull, a user-experience consultant in Britain, coined the term in 2010.”

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