Using Dark Patterns for Good

It was so frustratingly difficult to find the “sign out” button on Gmail that my father finally gave up and left himself signed in forever. Independent UX consultant Harry Brignull found the iOS ad tracking so difficult to turn off that he described it as “hidden.” And just last month, author Paul Brooks called out the company Twifficiency for neglecting to tell users that they were spamming their followers just by signing up. What do these all have in common? They’re dark patterns, an astonishing—but nonetheless surprising—way to learn more about good design. This situation actually affected me, recently. One day I received one of those chain emails we all receive—you know the kind. This one was from Goldstar. Having realized this was a chain email, I scanned along the bottom in search of an unsubscribe link. Fortunately I found one, but after clicking the link I saw that the page it linked to asked me to sign in. “Sign in,” I thought, I never created an account in the first place! I provided my email address to buy a ticket, but I never entered a password. So I clicked “forgot my password” on the next screen and was soon informed that there was no account linked to my email address. I was unable to unsubscribe. From an analytics perspective, this is certainly a smart decision—Goldstar likely has a very low “unsubscribe” rate—but as a user it’s beyond frustrating. Today, Goldstar’s emails find their way to my Spam box. How could the company have leveraged the same brilliance it took to fool me to instead make me a loyal...

Everything in Its Right Place: An Interview with Ahava Leibtag

These days, it seems that nothing’s more hotly contested than the role of content within our organizations: content is the brand, content is conversation, content is king. It’s a confusing landscape even for content strategists, those of us who specialize in the stuff! And that’s what makes Ahava Leibtag’s new book so special: Ahava takes the problem of “crafting good content” head on. In addition to being President and owner of Aha Media Group, Ahava Leibtag is a content expert, focusing on content marketing and strategy. In her recent book, The Digital Crown, Ahava provides a whirlwind of brand and messaging best practices, examples of successful persona creation and messaging architecture, and even shares advice on how to present content strategy to C-level execs. After reading the first chapter (free!) of The Digital Crown, we were keen to interview Ahava and get a deeper understanding of her motivations and influences in bringing this book to content marketers and content strategists. Join us as we learn from Ahava’s experience—and then find out how you can get a free copy of The Digital Crown! You begin your book by comparing a website to a conversation, a comparison that author Ginny Reddish also made in her classic, “Letting Go of the Words.” — The idea of content as a conversation definitely came from Ginny, although it was also shaped by The Cluetrain Manifesto’s conception of the Web as vast marketplace. Another one of the guiding principles I advocate in the book is aligning your content with your business objectives. I know that seems obvious and most organizations think they are doing it,...