This Guardian article from last year includes Jakob Nielsen discussing what he calls ‘evil design’, specifically in reference to the web:
“”Evil design is where they stop you from doing what you are trying to do, like putting an advert over the top of the page. That’s the wrong way to do it. Google has made billions by putting the ads where people do want them, rather than where they don’t want them.”
Evil design is perpetrated by people who are deliberately doing the wrong thing, and this harms everyone. Nielsen cites pop-up windows as an example. Users now expect pop-ups to be unwanted ads, and close them without looking at them. As a result, good designers can no longer use pop-up windows even when they would be a good solution.
“We now have to say: ‘Don’t put your help text in a pop-up window.’ It’s ruined it for everybody,” he adds.”
I feel this is rather simplistic (as did others around the time the article came out) but nevertheless, the idea of raising public awareness of design being used to restrict, manipulate and interfere with our behaviour is important, especially when it comes from someone with such a reputation in the field of usability and interaction design.
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