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Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us Into Temptation

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How to make customers feel good about doing what you want Learn how companies make us feel good about doing what they want. Approaching persuasive design from the dark side, this book melds psychology, marketing, and design concepts to show why we're susceptible to certain persuasive techniques. Packed with examples from every nook and cranny of the web, it provides easily How to make customers feel good about doing what you want Learn how companies make us feel good about doing what they want. Approaching persuasive design from the dark side, this book melds psychology, marketing, and design concepts to show why we're susceptible to certain persuasive techniques. Packed with examples from every nook and cranny of the web, it provides easily digestible and applicable patterns for putting these design techniques to work. Organized by the seven deadly sins, it includes: Pride -- use social proof to position your product in line with your visitors' values Sloth -- build a path of least resistance that leads users where you want them to go Gluttony -- escalate customers' commitment and use loss aversion to keep them there Anger -- understand the power of metaphysical arguments and anonymity Envy -- create a culture of status around your product and feed aspirational desires Lust -- turn desire into commitment by using emotion to defeat rational behavior Greed -- keep customers engaged by reinforcing the behaviors you desire Now you too can leverage human fallibility to create powerful persuasive interfaces that people will love to use -- but will you use your new knowledge for good or evil? Learn more on the companion website, evilbydesign.info.


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How to make customers feel good about doing what you want Learn how companies make us feel good about doing what they want. Approaching persuasive design from the dark side, this book melds psychology, marketing, and design concepts to show why we're susceptible to certain persuasive techniques. Packed with examples from every nook and cranny of the web, it provides easily How to make customers feel good about doing what you want Learn how companies make us feel good about doing what they want. Approaching persuasive design from the dark side, this book melds psychology, marketing, and design concepts to show why we're susceptible to certain persuasive techniques. Packed with examples from every nook and cranny of the web, it provides easily digestible and applicable patterns for putting these design techniques to work. Organized by the seven deadly sins, it includes: Pride -- use social proof to position your product in line with your visitors' values Sloth -- build a path of least resistance that leads users where you want them to go Gluttony -- escalate customers' commitment and use loss aversion to keep them there Anger -- understand the power of metaphysical arguments and anonymity Envy -- create a culture of status around your product and feed aspirational desires Lust -- turn desire into commitment by using emotion to defeat rational behavior Greed -- keep customers engaged by reinforcing the behaviors you desire Now you too can leverage human fallibility to create powerful persuasive interfaces that people will love to use -- but will you use your new knowledge for good or evil? Learn more on the companion website, evilbydesign.info.

30 review for Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us Into Temptation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad hosseini

    Sloth, pride, envy, greed, lust, anger, gluttony. The list of seven deadly sins provides a nice, tidy statement of fundamental human behavior. Each chapter in this book addresses one of these sins, pointing out the human characteristics that enable software designer to create persuasive interfaces that appeal to each weakness. The 57 patterns described in this book are strong mechanisms for persuasion. They can be used in digital and physical products to increase customer loyalty or to attract ne Sloth, pride, envy, greed, lust, anger, gluttony. The list of seven deadly sins provides a nice, tidy statement of fundamental human behavior. Each chapter in this book addresses one of these sins, pointing out the human characteristics that enable software designer to create persuasive interfaces that appeal to each weakness. The 57 patterns described in this book are strong mechanisms for persuasion. They can be used in digital and physical products to increase customer loyalty or to attract new customers. In addition, you can use this information to recognize and avoid being personally persuaded by these principles when they appear in sites you use. But why should design be based on evil? Simple: starting with evil means starting with real human behavior. This doesn’t mean that the result is evil. It means that understanding what each sin represents ads to an understanding of people and good design results from good understanding.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ben Rogers

    An excellent book on evil design. Is evil design to the benefit of the corporation done on purpose, or by accident? Some of the examples of this book really uncovered the underlying motives and seedy practices of design. I learned a lot, and it was really fascinating how much influence you can have on someone by these little 'nudges'. Great information to know as a digital marketer. Oh, and Chris is amazing on LiL. 4.3/5

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karen Mardahl

    This book was not what I thought it was. It was a selection for my UX book club, and it sounded like a fun title. Without reading that much about it and knowing the context, I thought it would hold some concrete tips for design. It did. It didn't. What this book really was, in my opinion, was a look at behaviour of people using our products and services and taking some lessons from those behaviours. Coincidentally, I am reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman just now. I am reading This book was not what I thought it was. It was a selection for my UX book club, and it sounded like a fun title. Without reading that much about it and knowing the context, I thought it would hold some concrete tips for design. It did. It didn't. What this book really was, in my opinion, was a look at behaviour of people using our products and services and taking some lessons from those behaviours. Coincidentally, I am reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman just now. I am reading it at a slower pace for a reading group at work. I sensed some echoes from Kahneman while reading what Nodder had to say. Perhaps this book is more of a behavioural economics 101 for UX people? I am fine with that. I also thought of another book while reading this one. Machiavelli's "The Prince". Low and behold, (this is no spoiler), Nodder opens the last section of the book with a mention of Machiavelli and what he put into "The Prince". I could only smile. Machiavelli merely presented some data on how to survive as a merchant prince 500 years ago. Nodder is not a Machiavelli in the sense that we usually toss that name about! But Nodder does point out various behaviours - the behaviour of designers and businesses and the behaviour of users - and what the consequences of this and that can be. I look forward to finishing Kahneman's book and then coming back to skim this book once more. I did have a few issues - which I did not mark so I cannot go back to them - where I found it hard to see why that exact example was a part of that specific sin. There were very few of those issues. All in all, it was a clever way to discuss what I would call persuasive design or nudging (with only a peripheral knowledge of those areas). I would that think that if you are serious about the topics in this book, you will move on to books like Cialdini's Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, mentioned in the reference section. In short, this is a thinking book. What I mean is, there are no concrete work tips like use drop-down lists for this or use a chat bot for that. It's about thinking about what you are trying to achieve. If you are willing to make room for the user (which I argue you should be!), then it's getting inside the user's head and finding out what makes them tick and what can make them content and happy. It's the abstract side of work that is sometimes neglected in the rush to use the latest design trick on a website or in an app. It's about stopping up to think what is going on and what experience or journey is about to unfold. We do not know all the answers. Like Don Norman writes in his blurb on the cover of my paperback, "The seven sins are all around us, easy to spot. But the designs that apply the underlying behavioral forces that underpin the sins are harder to discern. That's why we need this book." Do like Don Norman did. Read the book and learn.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Wendelle

    This is an edifying book that shows how online advertising or site design can make use of psychological techniques to prey on our fallibility to pride, greed, sloth, lust, gluttony, anger and wrath and to keep us buying and patronizing a product.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris Branch

    Why would software designers and developers intentionally create software that is unethical? This book, provides, perhaps inadvertently, a telling explanation. Nodder presents and describes the variety of methods used by software producers to persuade software consumers to behave in ways that benefit the designer. He frames the discussion in terms of the Biblical “seven deadly sins” as a way of linking modern uses of technology to aspects of psychology that have existed throughout human history. Why would software designers and developers intentionally create software that is unethical? This book, provides, perhaps inadvertently, a telling explanation. Nodder presents and describes the variety of methods used by software producers to persuade software consumers to behave in ways that benefit the designer. He frames the discussion in terms of the Biblical “seven deadly sins” as a way of linking modern uses of technology to aspects of psychology that have existed throughout human history. While the book is engagingly written and informative (if a bit dated in its web site references), Nodder avoids taking an ethical stand against the use of these techniques. He leaves it largely up to the reader as to how this information is to be used, and has no qualms against explicitly providing advice to designers that could objectively be considered unethical. For example, in the chapter on Pride, he suggests that designers “Persuade your users to give you access to post to their social media accounts. You probably don't have to be deceptive …” and in the chapter on Greed, he recommends: “Artificially inflate the cost of your secondary object or reduce its feature set/desirability to make the primary object appear as a comparatively good value for money, even though it is more expensive.” In a summarizing chapter at the end of the book, readers are given justifications for using persuasive techniques. The author points out that “There is a continuum from persuasion to deception.” and provides several anecdotes, including the use of an “anti-monster” spray for scared children and the use of a fake bus stop near a facility for Alzheimer’s patients to give them a sense of agency. First, it should be noted that these chosen cases involve precisely examples of vulnerable populations (children and those with mental illness) whose members should _not_ be subjected to potentially unethical tactics. Second, these are undeniably exceptional cases, so even if these situations do justify the ethical use of deception, this does not make it valid for a software producer to conclude by extension that the use of persuasion or deception is ethical in the particular case they are concerned with. Nodder even pushes back against the “Golden Rule” of persuasion proposed by Berdichevsky and Neuenschwander in their 1999 paper. As an argument against the idea that “The creators of a persuasive technology should never seek to persuade anyone of something they themselves would not consent to be persuaded of”, Nodder asks, for example: “Is it okay for a smoker to make an iPhone app to help others quit smoking?” and concludes that even deception and coercion “can be very practically applied toward positive ends.” Further, he reminds the reader that “it’s okay to make money,” suggesting that software producers will need to discover for themselves the “boundary that distinguishes good business practice from evil design.” It's certainly true that software developers are not being intentionally evil - rather, they are driven by the same long-standing incentives, financial and otherwise, that affect all of us. But given the amount of persuasion taking place today via technology that many of us have become dependent on, it's worth asking if we want to live in a world in which developers are encouraged to use such tactics.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kit Sunde

    It's an okay book on creating incentives and getting users to perform the actions you want. As the name suggests quite a lot of it gives examples of morally questionable tricks that would be difficult to blanked apply to any website, especially if you're seeking to retain users and trust. Which is not a criticism of the book, if anything it makes it perfectly clear what the expected consequences and result would be. The author does give references, if sometimes anecdotally and sometimes on studie It's an okay book on creating incentives and getting users to perform the actions you want. As the name suggests quite a lot of it gives examples of morally questionable tricks that would be difficult to blanked apply to any website, especially if you're seeking to retain users and trust. Which is not a criticism of the book, if anything it makes it perfectly clear what the expected consequences and result would be. The author does give references, if sometimes anecdotally and sometimes on studies done in industries in the real world. I'm unconvinced that grouping the lessons by the 7-sins is useful or will help me recall any of the lessons in the future. All in all, the book was more informative than I thought it would be.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elvi Nissen

    I read this for a bookclub meeting. The evening's discussion mostly revolved around the feeling that it was a somewhat forced book. The idea of ​​manipulating / directing the user by appealing to our inclination towards the seven deathly sins is fun. But the execution fell somewhat short. Many of the examples in the seven first chapters (one for each sin) seemed a little sought, and the author seemed to struggle a bit a distinguishing, for example, Greed and Lust. Lust became more ‘curiosity’. The I read this for a bookclub meeting. The evening's discussion mostly revolved around the feeling that it was a somewhat forced book. The idea of ​​manipulating / directing the user by appealing to our inclination towards the seven deathly sins is fun. But the execution fell somewhat short. Many of the examples in the seven first chapters (one for each sin) seemed a little sought, and the author seemed to struggle a bit a distinguishing, for example, Greed and Lust. Lust became more ‘curiosity’. The book was also clearly directed at an American audience. For example, "free" is not a plus in Denmark - we have a natural skepticism when stuff is free. "Cheap" on the other hand: We’ll take the plunge anytime! Some reflections on cultural differences would have suited the book. The sins may be universal, but they manifest themselves differently depending on the ‘congregation’. We also missed examples of where our sinning could be used positively. It would probably go against the title of the book, however. But positive friction is somewhat more useful in our minds. That being said, the last chapters of ethics when using this the of manipulation and the overview of the 57 ‘tricks’ were actually good. They gave food for thought - and were not as annoying as the rest of the book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julia Kulgavchuk

    The book uses religious categories to structure dark patterns in design. Natural inclinations and curiosities of humans are archaically labelled as deadly sins and that terminology is used throughout the book. I see it as a categorical mistake. Is the use of ‘sin’ ironic? If it is, Nodder fails to communicate the irony.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joona

    An easy to read book that points out many tactics used by websites to steer and manipulate their users. Most of the insights aren't anything complex, pretty common sense stuff but interesting nevertheless thanks to many real-world examples provided.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Cramer

    If you have read books on bias, heuristics and behavioral economics, you will be familiar with most of the ideas. It is still a great collection and a great read for people involved in product/ux design.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Luis

    A bit dated now, Evil By Design was a great look into how websites and other online services capture people's attention or their trust. I'm not sure a more recent book exists out there but many of the concepts described within are still put to use today. The tactics are just more refined now.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tom Scott

    Very interesting, enabled me to improve some of my UX concepts based on the psychology in this book. Easy to dip in and out of and good for design inspiration.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Arash Narchi

    Great book to help understand the psychology and persuasion behind interaction design

  14. 5 out of 5

    Minah

    Design is the process of persuasion. The persuasion process seems to be somewhere in tug of understanding and trick.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    I found this book very informative and full of strategies I have certainly unwittingly succumbed to.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    Too repetitive. Unless you're a complete Newbie, this is just basic knowledge.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dr J

    Taking through the tricks of web design - using the seven deadly sins as a framing device. The version I have is a bit dated, and the principals all hold true

  18. 5 out of 5

    Wilte

    Basically a behavioral economics book, applied to interaction design. Nice touch to categorize our biases in the seven sins. Great title too. So I didn't learn a lot of new things but it was nice to read the familiar BE/nudge-examples through a slightly different lens. Also nice that real applications are discussed instead of a rehash/summary of nice academic studies. And this quote resonated with me (I work at a regulator): "Perhaps the regulators should insist that opting out take as few clicks Basically a behavioral economics book, applied to interaction design. Nice touch to categorize our biases in the seven sins. Great title too. So I didn't learn a lot of new things but it was nice to read the familiar BE/nudge-examples through a slightly different lens. Also nice that real applications are discussed instead of a rehash/summary of nice academic studies. And this quote resonated with me (I work at a regulator): "Perhaps the regulators should insist that opting out take as few clicks from the homepage as the process of opting in, using links or buttons equally as prominent." Quotes: Sites capitalize on our weaknesses. Sometimes their intentions are good, but mainly they do this for “evil”—in other words to profit at our expense. The best sites manage to make us feel good at the same time. Stupidity isn’t evil. People who create bad designs because they don’t know any better or because they are lazy aren’t being evil. Evil design must be intentional. So evil design is that which creates purposefully designed interfaces that make users emotionally involved in doing something that benefits the designer more than them. If you are caught doing bad things with user data, apologize profusely and then add more check boxes, explanations, and options to your privacy center, so it’s even harder to divine the correct settings. These tactics are designed to wear consumers down. The harder it is to cancel the membership, the more people’s slothful behavior will kick in. Perhaps the regulators should insist that opting out take as few clicks from the homepage as the process of opting in, using links or buttons equally as prominent. The principles laid out in each of the seven deadly sin chapters can be applied either for good or for evil. How far you take it is up to you. There is a continuum from persuasion to deception. That continuum takes in everything from being totally open, through being economical with (or neglecting to mention) certain truths, through bent truths and white lies, to all-out deception.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Another one of these like pop culture/ design/ psychology books I'm try to read. It's alright, I'm glad I got this one at a library instead of buying it though. It reminds me a lot of Thinking Fast and Slow. The list of patterns and biases have much more focused use cases and it doesn't belabor the same points for too long. The main problem I had with this book was how it was sorted by deadly sin. I'd say those sins almost never correlate to the patterns listed within them. It was pretty shoe hor Another one of these like pop culture/ design/ psychology books I'm try to read. It's alright, I'm glad I got this one at a library instead of buying it though. It reminds me a lot of Thinking Fast and Slow. The list of patterns and biases have much more focused use cases and it doesn't belabor the same points for too long. The main problem I had with this book was how it was sorted by deadly sin. I'd say those sins almost never correlate to the patterns listed within them. It was pretty shoe horned and I kept getting distracted trying to figure out how something like "Make the math hard to understand" was listed under Gluttony instead of Sloth. The discussions in the beginning and end about persuasion vs deception were also interesting, again not worth buying the book for but had some interesting use cases. The overall design of the book is also good, fancy paper, good layout, lots of pictures. I kind of wish he differentiated a bit more between the different 'levels' of evilness with the icons though. He has little evil mouse icons to show possible methods of implementing a pattern, whchi I would think would also mean that he can have normal and angel mouse icons to show how it can be used for good, like community accountability for weight watchers programs. The case studies and descriptions of specific companies that use these practices was the most interesting piece. It'll probably make the book useless in 50 years, but it's really helpful right now.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    I read more than half, then scanned the summaries for the last four chapters, which was good enough because the book was repetitive. Although the author provided examples throughout, my attention wandered because it felt so abstract. The device of structuring chapters around the seven deadly sins felt forced at times and simply repeated behavioral and economic research sited in more interesting books like Predictably Irrational. Also, many of the tactics felt truly evil, sometimes to the point o I read more than half, then scanned the summaries for the last four chapters, which was good enough because the book was repetitive. Although the author provided examples throughout, my attention wandered because it felt so abstract. The device of structuring chapters around the seven deadly sins felt forced at times and simply repeated behavioral and economic research sited in more interesting books like Predictably Irrational. Also, many of the tactics felt truly evil, sometimes to the point of being unethical--such as paying for reviews on social media or obfuscating language to trick users into signing up for services. My skin is crawling!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ignas

    Really nice book to read. Writing style is easy and most of the tips in the book I found very useful and practical. Companies are trying to trick you and use your sins to get money from you, so when you know those tricks you can see more clear what is going on. Moreover those tips could be used in your business and design process (in a good or bad way, it really depends on you). So in general - was a great read and would recommend to a friend.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Simona

    I really enjoyed this book, mostly for its psychological take and for pointing out our many flaws and how susceptible to manipulation we are because of them. I don't plan on using the techniques described there to an accomplish a hidden evil agenda, but I will definitely try to keep them in mind so as not to fall into the trap of those 7 deadly sins. Because I am totally not gonna be persuaded by those evil tricks. Well, who I am trying to fool? Oh, poor me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    I like this book. Social engineering tips and tricks by looking at the ways the baddies use them all helpfully explained by explaining in the context of seven deadly sins. Reminds me of the great Cory Doctorow article on metadata called metacrap which explained why metadata is tricky with people i.e. they are lazy, they lie, and they are stupid.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elisa

    We read this book fr our UX book club.I really enjoyed how he framed the interaction design issues with the seven deadly sins. The best part is that there are terrific examples of all of them. It was a good book to share and discuss.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lora Kostova

    It is not as much about design as it is a social psychology book, which is always interesting. It is also even more 'evil' than it sounds, with the '7 deadly sins' concept making it very well structured and interesting.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Yuval Vered

    Establishing a well rounded point across different industry verticals & creating a seemingly valid context from historical events through emotional reasoning, Evil by Design still manages to become somewhat repetitive across chapters (i.e reciprocity, desire as an emotional resource etc.) Establishing a well rounded point across different industry verticals & creating a seemingly valid context from historical events through emotional reasoning, Evil by Design still manages to become somewhat repetitive across chapters (i.e reciprocity, desire as an emotional resource etc.)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Generally good, although trying to tie merchandising principles to the seven deadly sins sometimes felt a little stretched and gimmicky.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rana

    Worth a read- I'm just so sick of reading about the Stanford prison experiment and the Monty hall problem.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kasia Mrowca

    I enjoyed this book :) Now I'm more aware of the mechanisms used in app/web/marketing to 'deceive' the customer ;)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shenyu

    Lots of insights are included in this book, but it seems that some patterns introduced are not closely related to the main topic.

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