I’ve been trying to narrow down a topic for research for the critical Studies module. I’m pretty sure I want to investigate an area of ethics in relation to my major study but my current findings are so broad that it almost seems impossible to focus. There are so many issues relevant to my project, so many topics which would benefit my practice; it’s just so hard to decide where to go with this and I don’t overwhelm myself with mountains of research and have no clue where to begin!
I want to keep deceit and lies at the heart of my research and question how we as designers can also become master manipulators whether that manipulation is used for the greater good or for a more sinister side of design. It is the dark side that fascinates me and as part of my research into the lies we tell as designers I came across the concept of ‘dark patterns’.
A dark pattern is according to the website http://www.darkpatterns.org (2015)
“a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills.”
As well as detailed information about various types of dark pattern www.darkpatterns.org offers a platform to name and shame companies that use such techniques online, in an attempt to eliminate these underhanded tactics from UI design practices.
I have contacted the site’s creator Harry Brignull, who also runs the popular design blog www.90percentofeverything.com, with a view to conducting an interview on the topic and his attempts to create a common code of ethics for UI designers applicable to big brands and smaller companies alike. The site is also managed by 3 further contributors who I also plan to contact should this line of enquiry prove fruitful.
90 Percent Of Everything, (2015). 90 Percent Of Everything. [online] Available at: http://www.90percentofeverything.com/ [Accessed 29 Feb. 2016].
Darkpatterns.org, (2015). Dark Patterns – User Interfaces Designed to Trick People. [online] Available at: http://darkpatterns.org/ [Accessed 28 Feb. 2016].