I am a dark-mode person. Honestly, I don’t know how we lived without it for so long. When I briefly encountered the words “dark patterns” in some recent UX research, I thought that meant designing for dark mode. Not quite. Dark Pattern UX Design is functionality designers/devs put in UX to deceive users. To highlight the seriousness of dark patterns, check out this case that hit LinkedIn with a penalty of $13M. There is an entire website dedicated to this art form that I encourage you to check out. With that in mind, let’s talk about a ‘dark’ pattern (IMO) that is grinding my gears.
Cookie Bars – delicious, refreshing, chewy………….annoying at the bottom of our web browsers. Ever since GDPR showed up, our screens are littered with cookie consent bars. I am pro-privacy and think this is a much-needed movement for the web, but I’m not sure we’re going about it the right way. CA recently updated the CCPA to prohibit dark patterns on websites.
“These protections ensure that consumers will not be confused or misled when seeking to exercise their data privacy rights.” (Provenzano)
There are some questionable executions of the consent bar out there. Let’s start with the MLB.
Right off the bat (pun intended), the copy is disingenuous. “……assist in our marketing efforts.” Just come right out and say we would like to track you to better market to you. Moving on to the buttons here – shame, shame, shame. Notice how the Accept button is colored in nicely, and the option to review cookie settings is transparent and simply a hyperlink, BAD UX. I get it, MLB; you want people to accept cookies without thinking so you can make money and get back to checking your pitchers for glue.
As a privacy-conscious consumer, I decided to check into the cookie settings.
It’s your standard cookie-cutter (pun again) language about cookies and why they need them, all fine. Where this goes sideways is THEY ARE ALL TURNED ON BY DEFAULT. I thought the whole point of the shift to privacy was to give users a choice. Opting me in by default is shady. Please don’t do it.
Check out Typeform, a similar setup to the MLB as far as settings, but they have all the settings turned off by default. Much better.
Onto the NHL.
Turning to football, the premier league has a stellar cookie consent bar UX.
Excellent copy; the first option is to Manage Settings, not accept; Both buttons are designed the same to not create a bias, and lastly, the manage settings page is thorough.
I will end this post on a positive note and recommendation. This consent bar is my favorite, and I believe it encompasses all a user should expect when landing on a website.
Credit to Aleyda Solis for turning me onto this resource, https://learningseo.io/. What makes this execution nearly perfect? The copy is straightforward. The options are available without clicking further into the bar, and there is a quick option to only use necessary cookies. The only thing I would change here is making all of the buttons the same color. The site is trying to sway users to allow all cookies.
I’m sure as privacy becomes second nature, more companies will design better consent UX. I’d personally rather deal with a company if you tell me the truth about what you want to do with my data. I imagine I am not the only one who holds that sentiment.
Resources that Inspired this Content
Arushi Jaiswal. “Dark Patterns in UX: How Designers Should Be Responsible for Their Actions.” Medium, UX Collective, 16 Apr. 2018, uxdesign.cc/dark-patterns-in-ux-design-7009a83b233c.
“Blog: Cookies – What Does ‘Good’ Look Like?” Ico.org.uk, ICO, 28 Oct. 2019, ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/news-and-events/news-and-blogs/2019/07/blog-cookies-what-does-good-look-like/. Accessed 19 Nov. 2019.
Brignull, Harry. “Dark Patterns: Inside the Interfaces Designed to Trick You.” The Verge, The Verge, 29 Aug. 2013, www.theverge.com/2013/8/29/4640308/dark-patterns-inside-the-interfaces-designed-to-trick-you.
Brownlee, John. “After Lawsuit Settlement, LinkedIn’s Dishonest Design Is Now a $13 Million Problem.” Fast Company, 5 Oct. 2015, www.fastcompany.com/3051906/after-lawsuit-settlement-linkedins-dishonest-design-is-now-a-13-million-problem. Accessed 25 June 2021.
Friedman, Vitaly. “Privacy UX: Better Cookie Consent Experiences.” Smashing Magazine, 10 Apr. 2019, www.smashingmagazine.com/2019/04/privacy-ux-better-cookie-consent-experiences/.
Lomas, Natasha. “WTF Is Dark Pattern Design?” TechCrunch, TechCrunch, July 2018, techcrunch.com/2018/07/01/wtf-is-dark-pattern-design/.
Ravenscraft, Eric. “How to Spot—and Avoid—Dark Patterns on the Web.” Wired, 29 July 2020, www.wired.com/story/how-to-spot-avoid-dark-patterns/. Accessed 22 June 2021.