Deceptive Design Patterns – State of Research

As a designer, it is important to be aware of the potential for deceptive design patterns and to avoid using them in your own work. As UX designer Harry Brignull explains, “dark patterns are interfaces that are designed to trick people into doing things they might not otherwise do” (Brignull, 2010).

Furthermore, using dark patterns can have serious negative consequences for users. These design techniques are often designed to trick users into taking actions that they might not otherwise have taken, such as signing up for a subscription or making a purchase. This can lead to situations where users feel deceived or frustrated, which can damage their overall experience of the product or service (Nunes et al., 2018).

On a broader level, the use of dark patterns can also contribute to a culture of mistrust and skepticism among users. As more and more products and services employ these manipulative design techniques, users may become increasingly wary of interacting with digital products and services (Cheshire & Fox, 2014).

Research on deceptive design patterns is ongoing, and there is currently no consensus on the best ways to avoid them. However, some sources recommend following ethical design principles and considering the potential consequences of your designs on users. For example, the Nielsen Norman Group, a user experience consulting firm, offers professional insights and some principles on how to avoid deceptive design patterns, such as being transparent about the goals of your design, avoiding manipulations that could harm users, and giving users control over their own actions. (NNGroup, 2021)

My own work will build on this and add up on not only understanding what makes deceptive design patterns unethical or how to avoid them, but also on how they can easily be reversed and turned back into user-friendly designs.


Brignull, H. (2010). Dark patterns: 10 examples of online trickery. Retrieved from

Cheshire, C., & Fox, S. (2014). The dark side of user-centered design. Communications of the ACM, 57(7), 24-26.

NNGroup. “The Role of Design Ethics in UX”. July 2, 2021. Conference Recording, 4:24.

Nunes, J., Cunha, J., Verissimo, P., & Lopes, J. (2018). Dark patterns: A dark side of user experience design. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-14). ACM.

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