Dark Patterns on Websites – Part 3

From anticipation to frustration 

Dark Patterns on Websites – Part 3

From anticipation to frustration

Created on: 9. June 2022
3 Minutes

Are your decisions voluntary?

The most recent article on dark patterns dealt primarily with the strategies of “overloading” and “skipping”, which represent the content to a certain extent or a certain structure. The main purpose of this is to get the user to quickly click away all the annoying forms.

In this article we will describe the means by which the user can be emotionally persuaded to make decisions that are actually disadvantageous for him.


First, there is “Stirring”, which is used in particular for emotional guidance. Some areas are presented particularly attractively via the design of the surface. These are then the buttons that the user should click on if the website operator wishes, because they may be giving far-reaching consent. Colors are often used here, for example a friendly green or with different button sizes, so that the “right” button immediately catches the eye.


So while stirring gives you a quick way to a desired result, “hindering” goes the opposite way. Here an attempt is made to make the “undesirable” way, for example the refusal of consent, particularly cumbersome and tedious. Examples of this strategy include “dead ends” in privacy information that supposedly lead to special settings, but then go nowhere. The frustrated user takes a step back and then often chooses the “Accept all” button because he doesn’t want to waste any more time searching for the desired function.

Long texts

Another possibility is the use of unnecessarily long texts, which may then contain links that are difficult to recognize. Even dedicated website visitors eventually lose patience scrolling through pages of unstructured explanations. Something similar is also known from the terms of use of many software packages or smartphone operating systems. Actually, you just want to install the software or use the smartphone as quickly as possible. So you jump to the end and select “I accept the terms of use”. Everything will be fine, because someone must have read this through in its entirety and complained if something was wrong or illegal, right? Unfortunately that is not the case. Declarations and terms of contract, which are confirmed by thousands upon thousands of users every year, can also contain gross errors or give the provider disproportionate advantages. It often takes years for these points to be finally dealt with by authorities and courts. Examples are the incorrectly obtained consent on Amazon websites or the years of tug-of-war over the terms of use for Android smartphones , which are specified by Google.

So how do you do it right?

Good consent management platforms are designed in such a way that the options are presented equally and the required additional information can be accessed quickly. A uniform design of the texts without unnecessary lengthy explanations increases readability. After all, data protection information should provide precise and transparent information about the processing and should not be regarded as a literary work.

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