Chapter 75. Anti-UX

We are always trying to help our users, but that doesn’t always mean agreeing with them. And it would be näive not to realize that we have the power to deceive users with UX techniques.

There is a difference between a bad UX design, and a UX design that works against the user. The difference is psychology. Anti-UX prevents mistakes and bad decisions by using normal UX principles, in the opposite direction.

The Good, The Bad, and The Anti

Let’s say you run a members-only website for clown car mechanics. It’s a lot of great content on one tiny site.

Members pay a subscription each month, until they cancel it. The price might look small, but you get so much out of it!

You don’t want people to cancel their account, obviously, but it is necessary to allow it, obviously. Otherwise, they all might repaint their faces with a single tear and a frowny mouth.

Let’s say we’re designing that cancellation process.

Good UX

The form should be clear and easy. The “cancel my subscription” button should be somewhere logical (like account settings). You should get an email to confirm the cancellation. Everything should be easy to read, relevant, and so on.

Bad UX

If you are an unethical designer—which I hate—then you could make the form difficult and confusing. You could hide the “cancel” button somewhere weird or make it tiny and hard to see. And it could “fail” when the user makes a tiny mistake, so they have to start from the beginning.

The problem

In real life, bad UX will create fewer ...

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