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In a recent Fast Company article, Senior Writer Mark Wilson names 2017: The Year UX Found its Conscience. It’s a fascinating piece in which he uncovers “a sea change in design, as designers have created products that serve our deepest needs, rather than exploit them.” He then points to an “influx of concepts and products that rethink the dark patterns to which we’ve all become accustomed,” ultimately determining that we're on the right path to putting the user’s needs before company profit. But are we? With the dawn of fake news and racist chatbots, is this really the year UX found its conscience? The short answer is yes. The sad answer is yes because we had to.
There's no doubt that the trends around dark UX design patterns of the past few years—and especially 2016—are troubling. Yet at the same time, we're seeing more apps, features, functions, and experiences emerge in 2017 that promote healthier, more conscious behaviors. We're still plumbing the depths of the abyss and are starting to understand that not only is it the right thing to do to make products that address user needs in an empathetic way, but that we must do so, for the integrity of our communities, our democracy, and because companies’ long-term bottom lines suffer when people are misled.
Loyalty isn’t built on misdirection or trickery. Rather, when you create products that respect customers, they will pay more for them, engage with them more, and tell their friends. Doing research to find the right answer and identify alternatives to dark patterns will not only make you feel good but will also help your organization achieve its goals.
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About the author:
Lija is a Customer Experience Consultant at UserTesting. When she's not helping UserTesting customers understand the wide variety of topic areas they can cover using the platform, she teaches a usability research methods class to undergraduates at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.