Domain Registrars Called Out for Black Hat Design Patterns

By on August 17, 2010

An interesting new visual library is making the rounds today and a lot of big business websites are being called out for unethical design tactics. DarkPatterns.org has been created to introduce the public to web design issues including, but not limited to:

  • Shopping cart tricks
  • Privacy swindling
  • Friend spamming
  • Disguised advertisements
  • Even the Facebook like button gets called out.

The developer and curator of the site, Harry Brignull is a highly experienced User Experience Consultant (and Evangelist). He has started the collection off by explaining some of the most common black hat practices being employed by many well known businesses online.

Domain name registrar 123-Reg, based out of the UK, was put in the spotlight for the all too common trend of sneaking items into shopping carts.

Coincidentally, 123-Reg was just featured here on DotSauce as one of the Top 100 Domain Websites. The #1 site, GoDaddy is probably the most notorious for similar tactics. Many other registrars are just as guilty.

How many times have you seen alternate domain name extensions selected that you did not specifically search for? A user should not have to un-select additional domains simply to purchase what was intended.

Some registrars preselect 2-year registration periods. This practice doubles the necessary cost of a registration. First time domain buyers are being taken advantage of as they may be unaware that paying only 1 year’s fee is even an option.

What other shady tactics are registrars employing?

Will this trend continue? I can imagine many have already jumped-ship for down-to-Earth registrars like Name.com that don’t play these games.

Have a look at DarkPatterns.org to learn about all of the unethical, annoying and often infuriating practices your business and your wallet should avoid at all cost.

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About Mark Fulton

Mark is the Founder of DotSauce Magazine and a full time web developer, domain investor, SEO and online marketing professional residing in North Carolina, USA. Visit MarkFulton.com for information on freelance website development, SEO and consultation services.