Back in 2011 Dr Harry Brignull gave an insightful presentation on user interfaces that are designed to trick people, usually into paying more for something, or ticking a box they don’t actually need to. He called these ‘dark patterns’ or ‘black hat’ user interfaces.

You can see the summary of Harry’s talk here and his slides here.

Now, the Amazon website is generally held up as an example of good user interface design. But I think what they’re doing with Amazon Prime flies in the face of this, as I’ve been finding out recently.

First off, I bought a present for someone last week and could only get free delivery if I subscribed to a free trial of Prime.

This seemed reasonable as it was a relatively low value item, about £15.00.

But we don’t want Prime in our house, so I set about cancelling it a few days after I’d made the purchase. From the Amazon homepage, it’s simple to find the Prime section:



From there it’s relatively easy to find options for managing your membership:




Now this is where the fun begins:


I’ve never seen ‘do not continue’ as a call to action. Anywhere. It’s mighty confusing. Do not continue with what? With my Amazon Prime membership, or with my cancellation process?

To be fair, Amazon does then ask me to confirm that I don’t want to continue:


And helpfully provides an option for me to continue my membership if I want to.



Interestingly, my partner who was sitting next to me whilst I was doing this, was so confused at this stage that she pointed out the option to ‘continue membership’ as perhaps being the right thing to do, to seal the ‘unsubscribe’ deal, so to speak. That would have resubscribed us and sent us into loop of trying to unsubscribe.

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