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Push Notification: Dark Patterns

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Misuse of push notification through click-bait advertising

What are Push Notifications?

App notifications on the home screens of the phone. It could be new messages alert, offers, news, reminders, etc.

Click Bait advertising through Push Notifications

Usually on installing a new app in my phone, the app bombards my phone with notifications- discount for limited period, discount because you are a new customer, discount coz you are an old ‘loyal’ customer-until I turn them off. I have stopped checking SMSs, except for OTP, thanks to marketing. And I can’t thank Gmail enough for providing segregation and receiving notifications for only the important emails.

Some alerts are essential and add value to the experience like upcoming sale, price drop of an item in the wish list, etc. but most notifications I receive these days are click baits. This short term approach to trick user into opening the apps makes sure that the app notifications will be muted.

Let’s take the example of travel apps. Why would a user need a daily notification from the app which will be only used while traveling? A user will not make plans to travel to Goa because there is discount on tickets today. It is not to say that the offers might not have an impact on travel plans. A user when planning to take a vacation might decide on the destination based on offers available on app. The daily reminders pushes the users to mute these notifications.

And when these apps know that the user is out of town and they will come after them with all guns blazing. They won’t be satisfied that the user has just booked a flight with them, but now they will push notifications for hotels, travel, etc. multiple times a day.

Also, I do not need my app to wish me on new years or on diwali either.

some of the screenshots of Push Notifications I collected over the last month

How it impacts the overall experience of the App?

Now there are no notifications ( as they are muted by the user) when they are actually needed. When a user travels, the user needs to check the app multiple times to see the confirmation of bookings (because it is another cumbersome process to switch on/unmute the notifications).

The Gold Standard in Worst Push Notifications


Push Notification: Dark Patterns was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.