(Aka dark patterns, needy patterns, and other things I won’t do)
This isn’t about art. It’s about marketing my art.
And I’m making a stand.
I admit, I have been on the fence about a few of these things. After all, they’ve crept into acceptable, common practice. You can’t move on the internet these days without tripping over them. Those who use them justify it with, “but it works”. So it’s tempting…
But I haven’t yet. I have a background in user experience, back when the term UX wasn’t even a thing… #dinosaurnerd. I believe in clarity, transparency, and honesty. And importantly, making it easy for the user to make the choice they want to make.
Which is not what the dark patterns, needy patterns, and other advertising techniques running around out there are about.
What am I talking about?
(Gonna get all nerdy on you…)
For a start, there the dark patterns.
It’s a nerd term for the sneaky tricks that websites and apps use to manipulate you into doing what you didn’t mean to – buy something, sign up to something, install something…
They’re nothing new. And awfully common. The dark patterns website has been around for years to help educate internet users so you can defend yourself! I won’t go into detail here or this will turn into a novel. But if you haven’t read this website, go do it – it’s an eye-opener.
Next up, what they call the needy design patterns.
You’ll have seen them. The in-your-face Please-Don’t-Go popups pleading for your email address. Or even worse, the new trend they’ve dubbed manipulinks. If you sensibly decide not to do what they want, the decline link is guilt-laden and downright rude. Something like, “No thanks, I don’t like deals.”
I mean, good grief. Imagine if someone in a shop chased you as you walked out the door, with, “Wait, if you give me your email address you’ll get a discount… or don’t you like saving money?”
And the rest of the tricks?
They fall under scare tactics and manipulation. Have you tried booking holiday accommodation lately? My goodness. The countdown timers that flash up to make you buy now, now, now! And quick, only 2 rooms left… and hurry, 10 other people are looking at this!
Or what about the ads that follow you around the internet and are scarily informed about what you like. Not to mention the plethora of tricks to make your price seem lower. (Did you know that if you see a price in a smaller font size, you see the price as actually being smaller?!)
The Ethical Move
Then recently, I stumbled across The Ethical Move, a movement for marketing based on trust and honesty. And I immediately made the first pledge – to use round numbers in pricing ($300), rather than charm prices ($297). Which, I’m proud to say, was pretty easy since I was doing it anyway.
But as I signed up, I realised I also wanted to make a stand against all the other things I’ve been on the fence about. (I’m not talking about the dark patterns – was never going to do those!) I mean the slew of common advertising techniques you see these days. The things that “work”, that marketers keep recommending, even though research shows users hate them.
I want to make my little corner of the internet a nicer place for you to visit. And well… I’m sick of these things being used on me and don’t want to be part of the problem!
Things you won’t see on my website
(Here’s my stand.)
You’re most welcome to sign up to my email newsletter. There’s a handy form at the bottom of most pages on my website. But I’m not going to get all up in your face about it.
Tracker cookies and ads that follow you around
As for ads, they’re jut another way for certain big companies to collect data about us. No, thanks.
Yes, my prints are limited edition which means that I will only print a certain number. But I’m not going to scare you about it!
Having to opt out
(Rather than opting in). You’ll often see this in a form where there’s an option to subscribe to an email newsletter. If the checkbox is ticked by default, more people will end up saying yes – which is what the form wants. But is it what the user actually wanted?! If you check the box yourself, at least you’re making a conscious decision!
So, when you fill out one of my enquiry forms, you can opt IN if you like. Or not. Up to you.
Over to you. I’d LOVE to hear what you think. How do you feel about all this?
Here’s to making the internet a nicer place and making conscious, intentional choices as a consumer.
Keep on shining bright,