William Liao

July 4, 2021

Fine Print, Dark Patterns, and A Better Way

In the early 20th century, some businesses started adopting the practice of using small text, also known as fine print, to concealing important terms of agreement with the understanding that very few are inclined to read tiny text. 

In 2010, London-based UX designer Harry Brignull coined the term dark patterns to describe user interfaces that are designed to trick users into doing things (like purchasing, signing for recurring payments, etc) that they didn’t intend to do.

Fine print
and dark patterns are certainly ways of making the work work — of getting people to do the thing you’d like them to do. 

But it also creates frustration, it creates problems, it hurts people; it’s not work that anyone deserves. 

Zappos on the other hand relies less on fine print or dark patterns, and instead prides itself in its ability to retain customers through a high quality of service.

Zappos makes the work work all the same — people happily come back and buy shoes.

There is a lot of ways to make the work work, the question is: do you want to make things better or worse for others in the process?