Types of deceptive design patterns

In todays blogpost I want to get a bit more specific and list types of deceptive design patterns* with some extraordinary bad examples for those technique. I am going to use the 12 defined types of deceptive design patterns* from Harry Brignull. 

Bait and Switch

This pattern works with previous experience and common user interactions. The user wants to complete an action, but something different, undesired or even the exact opposite thing happens. The most famous example for bait and switch is the Microsoft update pop-up to Windows 10. Normally clicking the „x“-button in the upper right corner means closing the window without completing any action. In this case they switched the meaning to „Yes, let’s do this update“. Another common strategy is to simply switch „Yes“ and „No“ Buttons for additional add-ons in an e-commerce process.

Source: https://www.darkpatterns.org/types-of-dark-pattern/bait-and-switch

Disguised Ad

In this case ads are hidden and they seem like they are actually part of the interface. Since they look like content or any kind of navigation, users are clicking them assuming it is a genuine interaction of the website. Prime example here are download buttons linking to different websites.

Forced Continuity

This pattern tricks users into continuing any kind of paid membership by charging them after a free trial without a warning or making it really hard to cancel on automatic renewed subscriptions.

Friend Spam

Users grant access to numbers or emails in their phone or connect their social media accounts in order to „find friends“ within this environment, but the product actually spams all contacts pretending to be the user himself. 

Hidden Costs

A design that intentionally hides costs and makes product or service seem cheaper by adding additional costs or fees later on. As the user is already in the checkout process, it is more likely that he continues anyway even after realizing the price change. Usually those hidden fees are delivery costs or service fees.


This pattern is also known as aesthetic manipulation. Focusing the user’s attention on an interaction to distract them from something else. There are many different approaches on how to use this dark patterns as it does not have a simple context like many other types.

Price Comparison Prevention

Showing the price of products or service in a way that makes it difficult for the user to compare two items. One way of achieving this is work with different units and not showing price per weight. Another one is to show prices of products only on each subpage and never next to each other so the user has to remember the price and go back and forth to actually compare them.

Privacy Zuckering

Maybe the most famous of all deceptive design patterns*: tricking users into agreeing to share all their personal information. Most users are aware that cookie-concent-managers make it difficult to opt out on purpose. Additionally this one is regulated by law. 

“X”-Button is not simply closing the pop-up, but accepting all cookies. Screenshot: https://www.darkpatterns.org/types-of-dark-pattern/bait-and-switch

Roach Motel

The model describes that users easily get into a situation, but find it difficult to get out of it. This mostly happens when a user signs up for something quickly, but then is having a hard time to cancel the membership (e.g. with a phone call during business hours).

Users can not cancel by filling out a form, but have to interact with an employee. Screenshot: https://help.nytimes.com/hc/en-us/articles/360003499613-Cancel-your-subscription

Sneak into basket

Sneaking products into the users basket, that they did not add themselves. Sometimes this pattern is justified with making suggestions to enhance the user experience, but actually it is just tricking them into buying something by mistake.

Trick Questions

Using unnatural language, like double negatives, to confuse the user and manipulate their actions. Especially often this pattern is used in forms to get users to subscribe to the newsletter.

That’s it for today 🙂 

Source: Harry Brignull: Types of Dark Patterns. In: https://www.darkpatterns.org/types-of-dark-pattern

* formerly called “dark pattern”