Some awful #darkpatterns

I’m always on the lookout for examples of horrible examples of interfaces, especially websites with terrible user interface. I hate terrible user interface, in fact it’s more perverse than that, I LOVE to hate terrible user interfaces.

Really bad user interface that’s actually intentional is called a dark pattern. This is something that’s deliberately intended to mislead the user.

A colleague of mine found this example of a dark pattern recently and screenshotted it:

Constantly switching the context and switching positive and negative actions makes it confusing. 


Here’s another with confusing negatives intended to catch you out:

I think the worse example of a dark pattern is on the RyanAir website, where there’s a section asking if you want travel insurance. You don’t HAVE to buy travel insurance from them, but the way to opt-out isn’t all that obvious. You have to find the “Don’t insure me” option hidden amongst the countries of residence:


I wonder how many people have unnecessarily bought travel insurance because they didn’t know how to opt-out?

You’ll find more stuff like this tweeted as #darkpattern and I’m going to try and opost any I find here under the category dark pattern.

Mystery meat & hidden salad

Mystery meat – A term given for an option that you don’t know what it’ll do until you choose/select/click it. The metaphor as I underswtand it: You’re choosing tinned meat, but don’t know what’s inside until you buy it and open it.

I especially hate this used in navigation, where in recent years it’s become common practice to replace words with icons, to easily translate the interface into different languages, and fit more onto the screen for mobile.

Hidden salad – I went to a resetaurant recently and asked for a side salad with my burger instead of fries. The burger wasn’t supposed to come with a salad, so I expected to pay extra. As it turns out, the salad WAS a legitimate option, but a hidden one.

“Hidden salad” is what I call options that are valid but completely hidden from the user. Similar to mystery meat but instead of being presented with a cryptic option, you’re not given any option at all until you discover it. This is used especially in interfaces where you have to type, like command-line tools (which I especially hate). Or a more fun use might be Google’s hidden easter eggs.