Nice write-up of Evil By Design sxsw talk on

The user experience expert from Seattle was ready to reveal the ways companies use “evil” tactics to entice their customers. Of course, he didn’’t mean truly being evil, just understanding more about the little tricks that companies pull when designing their products – and the human psychology triggers that make those tricks work. Read the… Continue reading Nice write-up of Evil By Design sxsw talk on

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

You know you’ve made it when people want to copy what you do. Or create a pitch-perfect spoof of it. Best Made Company have been featured on this site and in my book for their audacious use of justification marketing to avoid cognitive dissonance. Now, Re-Made company are calling them out. 

Let’s get Metaphysical: Steve Jobs on brand marketing

It’s hard to argue convincingly against qualities that can’t be measured. That’s why Apple doesn’t talk about processor speeds, and Nike doesn’t talk about shoes. Instead both companies make reference to metaphysical elements in order to boost their brands.

Feeding Trolls

Finally, psychological insight into something we’ve long suspected! Erin Buckels, Paul Trapnell and Delroy Paulhus surveyed almost 800 people, collecting measures of trolling behavior and psychological make-up. tl;dr = trolls are sadists and do it for the lulz.

Categorized as Anonymity

World of Warcraft instant level-up: Just add cash.

Blizzard will soon let World of Warcraft gamers pay to instantly gain Level 90 status. This is something I suggest in the Encourage payment as an alternative to achievement pattern. If your game or product revolves around escalating levels of achievement, it’s likely that people with more money than time will want to pay for… Continue reading World of Warcraft instant level-up: Just add cash.

I recently wrote a piece on Amazon’s tech book store blog to promote the book. It turns out that Amazon use many of the design patterns in the book, and mostly for good (or at least commercial) purposes rather than with evil intent.

Breakage is the industry term for the dollar value of unredeemed prepaid items. Breakage can be big business for retailers who offer gift cards.  Gift cards are a win-win proposition for retailers. Customers tend to either never redeem gift cards they have been given, redeem only part of the card, or spend an additional 15–40 percent in the process of redeeming the card.

That meant I could draw from Amazon’s own site to create examples for the blog entry. You can read the whole thing here. Do you think I was being too sycophantic?

An article I wrote recently for UXMag seems to have hit a nerve. In it, I discuss the upside to deception.

We are brought up to be honest. Lying is seen as a bad thing to do. Yet, often, in real life, deception is used to make life better for someone, not worse.

Parents can buy a lavender-scented spray called “Monster Go Away” that promises to banish scary creatures from under children’s beds or the depths of their closets.

Alzheimer’s patients at care facilities in Germany who feel the need to leave can sit and wait at a special bus stop outside the building until, five minutes later, they’ve forgotten they wanted to go home and the staff can invite them in for a cup of tea.

Check out the comments under the original article to see the various responses. Obviously I intended this to be a bit inflammatory, but I still stand by what I wrote. What do you think?


I wrote something for the User Experience Professionals Association magazine defining evil design.

When you stop to think about it, the job of interaction designers is about persuading people to do something. We design juicy-looking buttons and place them “just so” on the page to entice people to click them. We remove distractions and streamline processes so that customers glide effortlessly from browsing to buying. We create whole applications aimed at getting people to check in more frequently, diet more effectively, work out more consistently, or do more, more, more of whatever it is that meets our persuasive goal.

Read more over at the UxPA UX Magazine web site.