When Did UX Get So Naughty?

Written by Linzi Hunter: Head of design.
· 4 minute read

Naughty UX uses all of the powers of visual design with the mastery of a magician’s misdirection, throw in some ambiguous words and before you know it you’ve been hoodwinked.

These dirty tactics go against all of the concepts we celebrate in design such as empathy, user-centred, inclusivity and transparency.

Naughty UX robs customers of their own free choices.

We’ve all been hoodwinked at least once; whether it be subscription to a newsletter because a default box we didn’t notice was checked. Or when you’re automatically signed up to a subscription without even realising (ahem Amazon Prime).

Any experience that makes it difficult for a customer to unsubscribe, delete an account or be generally duped for the benefit of a company is just really really naughty.

Naughty UX is pretty much about short-term gains, and offenders include some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Microsoft, Facebook, and LinkedIn, among many others.

UX designer Harry Brignull’s website is devoted to cataloguing examples of these patterns into types he has defined as:

  • The Bait and Switch
  • Disguised Ads
  • Forced Continuity
  • Friend Spam
  • Hidden Costs
  • Misdirection
  • Price Comparison Prevention
  • Privacy Zuckering
  • Roach Motel
  • Sneak Into Basket
  • Trick Questions


Hall of Fame

Here’s some of the best, worst, tactics:







Have you ever encountered naughty ux? Give us a Tweet and let us know where!