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Could you be using dark patterns in your website designs?

Amazon is ruthless.

That’s according to one article, citing how the ecommerce giant crushed a startup in 2009. Well, managing a business is a ruthless process itself—but you always have the choice to beat rivals with kindness and a whole lot of integrity.

For today, however, we’re gonna talk about something that's the complete opposite of integrity. Read on to know what it is.


If there’s one goal you as sellers should aspire to achieve, it’s to gather as much information as possible about buyers. This way, you can tailor your offers and campaigns to customers’ preferences, boosting your sales potential.

But in doing so, there’s one precaution you should take note of—dark patterns. These are tricks used by online platforms to bend shoppers to their will. In 2023, 40% of consumers fell into these traps. ☠️ 

Even big players like Amazon have been caught using these tactics. To help you avoid mistakenly committing them, Forbes compiled a list of common dark patterns and how honest retailers can help reverse this trend

😈 Common deceptive tactics

KnownHost analyzed 48 retail websites to identify common dark patterns defined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Here’s a rundown of these tactics:

  • Bait-and-switch: Luring consumers with attractive terms or pricing, then changing conditions after engagement.
  • Confirm shaming: If websites offer two extreme ends, like "Sign me up" or "I don’t like good deals," they’re using confirm shaming. Users are guilt-tripped to opt in because pop-ups shame them for choosing otherwise.
  • False hierarchy: Manipulating design to subtly coerce users toward the retailer's preferred option.
  • Forced enrollment: Requiring account creation—that is, asking for personal information first—before browsing.
  • Hidden costs: Fees disguised as innocent add-ons surprise users with unexpected charges at the checkout.
  • Misdirection: By diverting attention away from the fine print, retailers can sneak in extra charges unnoticed. 👀
  • Nagging: Multiple pop-ups urging subscription that just won't take no for an answer.
  • The Roach Motel: Easy to sign up, nearly impossible to cancel that subscription.
  • Pretend urgency: That ‘act fast or miss out!’ message. Except, the offer never really expires, as it's just a clever ploy to trigger customers’ FOMO.
  • Sneaking: Items and fees magically appear without the user’s awareness. 🪄

How do you combat dark practices?

  • Opt for straightforward language to clearly explain actions and their implications.
  • Put privacy settings out in the open to ensure that users understand how their data is collected and used.
  • Use consumer-friendly designs to prioritize readability and transparency.
  • Give users control over their data with clear opt-in options and easily accessible privacy settings.
  • Whether on desktop or mobile, ensure privacy settings and information remain consistent for a seamless user experience.
  • Make it easy for users to opt out of subscriptions without jumping through hoops.
  • Regular audits and third-party evaluations can help root out dark patterns and ensure compliance with ethical standards.

🫡 Secret trick: Maintain your integrity

In ecommerce, consumer trust is the main currency. The next time you set up your website, remember that honesty is (always) the best policy— and the best way to make shopping enjoyable and secure for everyone.


Why online product reviews matter

Why online product reviews matter

Selling on Amazon involves more than just building a good storefront; it's about securing high-quality verified reviews on your Amazon product page.

Still not convinced? Here are some online review statistics you need to know:

  • 99.9% of customers read reviews when they shop online.
  • 96% of those specifically look for negative reviews. Customers are more likely to head straight to the reviews on the product page rather than the descriptions provided by the store.
  • 49% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. In today's digital age, where the space is saturated with sponsored ads, word-of-mouth marketing is the best (and probably the cheapest) out there!
  • 60% of consumers believe that the more reviews a business has, the more credible they are. Aside from quality, the quantity of reviews matters. It is perceived that a higher number of reviews is linked to a business' credibility and popularity.

So, does this mean new businesses are at a disadvantage since they don't have many reviews yet?

Yes, probably. But ReviewScoop is the best solution for this.

It's the safest way to get reviews and social proof from genuine testers, fast!

What you'll get:

  • Hassle-free process - just reviews, no headaches
  • High-quality verified product reviews for as low as $199/month
  • Recurring monthly reviews

Use high-quality reviews as leverage against your competitors. Let your products shine with verified product reviews!

Learn more



Amazon’s dark patterns in its Prime program

Amazon’s dark patterns in its Prime program

On June 21, 2023, the FTC filed a complaint against Amazon for unfair trade practices. The retail giant allegedly tricked customers into signing up for Amazon Prime, burying crucial details and creating a maze-like cancellation process.

🎯 According to WilmerHale, the commission filed the case based on the 6 dark patterns used by Amazon:

  • Forced action. Amazon required customers to enroll in Prime to complete their purchase. Moreover, customers are forced to go through multiple processes to cancel their subscriptions.
  • Interface interference. During the Prime enrollment process, Amazon displayed their terms and conditions only once during purchase—using a small, easy-to-miss font. 🧐
  • Roach Motel. The FTC claims Amazon makes it hard for users to find the option to decline and cancel their Prime membership.
  • Misdirection. Amazon makes it easier to enroll in Prime than not.
  • Sneaking. Amazon didn't clearly disclose Prime’s terms and conditions during its enrollment checkout, including its price and auto-renewal attribute.
  • Confirm shaming. Amazon guilt-tripped users into choosing its preferred option by using emotive language around the disfavored option.

What does it mean for you?

The FTC's crackdown on dark patterns underscores the importance of ethical design in the digital age. Take a good, hard look at your online processes, especially sign-up and cancellation flows.

Are you being transparent or are you hiding the fine print like buried treasure? 🧹


How to avoid dark patterns when designing a website

How to avoid dark patterns when designing a website

Dark patterns can lead not only buyers but also sellers like you down paths you never intended to take. If you’re found guilty of using these tactics—intentionally or not—you will lose customers’ trust and loyalty.

👨‍💻To help you avoid falling into dark pattern traps, Raw listed the ways to keep your designs squeaky clean:

  • Lay it all out there. No hidden agendas, no fine print—just straightforward communication. Keep labels clear, options visible, and users informed every step of the way.
  • Lose the tech talk. Break down big ideas into bite-sized nuggets of wisdom. Preferably, speak in a language your non-tech-savvy grandma would understand.
  • Let users call the shots. Opt-in and opt-out should be their choice, not yours. Make it easy for users to bail. And once they're out, don't pester them into changing their minds.

⭐ Bonus tip: Conduct user testing

Remember, you’re designing for real people, not robots. Regular user testing is your weapon against falling into the dark pattern trap. So, gather feedback, listen closely, and tweak your designs—ethically, of course.

Author : SellerBites
Faith began working on SellerBites in 2021, a weekly newsletter that provides sellers with the latest news and updates in FBA. With first-hand experience in managing various seller and vendor accounts, she understands what sellers face on this platform. Her background led to the conception of SellerBites, which main goal is to help people become better, more informed entrepreneurs in the Amazon marketplace.
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