Saturday, August 31, 2013

Evil User Interface Design

Thanks to Harry Brignull from Dark Patterns for bringing up the interesting topic of evil user interfaces; UIs designed to trick you into spending more money, or buying a product you don't want. Here's the best example from their slidedeck - the Ryanair booking form. I've added some explanatory comments below each screenshot.

1. Ryanair home page.
Loads of sale fares for just £5, looks great ... lets buy a ticket ...

2. The booking form.
Looks straightforward so far, no issues yet.

3. Passenger details section.
Notice the default option for the insurance dropdown is "Please select a country of residence".
If you're not paying attention, you'll assume it is just an address question, and so you'll select your country of residence. In doing so, you are actually selecting to pay for travel insurance ... its designed to trick you into selecting it by mistake.

4. Travel insurance dropdown.
 If you don't want travel insurance, then you have to select the correct option, "No Travel Insurance",
which is listed between Latvia and Lithuania.

5. On error, the dropdown clears your selection.
If you make a mistake anywhere on the form, such as shown above, forgetting to select "Yes" or "No" for the priority boarding question, then when you try and submit it, the insurance dropdown will default back to its original option, which was "Please select a country of residence". They really want you to pay for travel insurance, and this is their last chance of getting an extra few percent of users to buy it.

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  1. When you've bought your tickets and want to confirm the flights so you can print out your boarding passes, the form deletes the content of previous fields when you fill in later ones.

    They make money out of wrongly filled-in boarding passes.

    1. That's shocking - you mean you have to pay the full name change fee?

      I've read that its possible to do a name change for free as long as its an obvious typo, such as a one or two character mistake. It always pays to ring and ask them before paying any further charges (assuming that you can talk to a real person on the other end of the phone!).

  2. I did look at the code behind the form and it was clearing other fields - I'll be generous and say it was a coding error not picked up because testers always filled the form in in the same order - but if you typed stuff in in the order I did (because of how I'd got the info laid out) it definitely cleared previous entries.

    Unfortunately you have to buy a ticket to go through the hell of getting a boarding pass - yet more pages selling you all the things you turned down the first time - and I'm not making that mistake again.

  3. Hi,
    I don't think it was missed by their internal testing team but probably someone decided it's not that important to bother.
    In fact it was/is so annoying,

    Anyway great website. I like the article about Yoda Conditions :)


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