Interaction flow as subterfuge.

19 Jun 2009 - 4:21pm
4 years ago
11 replies
614 reads
alexis rachel
2009

I recently ran into an issue on Drugstore.com, wherein there is a discount
offer that may be obtained, but only by a series of not-so-obvious steps—all
done on the site, but not clearly documented. In fact I accidentally
activated the promotion only because I tend to be tenacious with these
things and clicked through a multitude of links. In fact, I hadn't realized
that the promotion had been added to my cart as a result of my actions until
I was already on the phone with customer support. He explained the overly
complex process I unwittingly had gone through. I may be overly cynical, but
compared to the ease of use of the rest of the site, I could only assume
this complicated process was a deliberate attempt to prevent the use of this
offer.

I am currently a student and have not had any formal professional experience
as an "Interaction" or "User Experience" designer specifically other than
what I have done as a part of creating smaller-scale websites. However, I
have had over a decade's experience in visual and graphic design. There have
been times in my career wherein I was asked to do things (in advertising
especially) that were deliberately misleading if not bald-faced lies. I have
never felt comfortable in this role, and in fact left a job wherein that was
the final straw.

I'm wondering how often the professional interaction designers out there are
faced with situations such as this, their thoughts on it, and how they deal
with it.

Looking forward to any responses,

Alexis Rachel

Comments

19 Jun 2009 - 11:47pm
Stephen Nitz
2009

I think that one has to ask the ethical question very often.

In fact it can be helpful to sort things out.

Is making the logo bigger an ethical question? You can argue that
the logo is shouting or harder to read but in the end if the client
insists, it is not a moral issue, even if it offends one
professionally.

But if you are asked to work on a kiddie porn site? Now THERE is a
clear NO.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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20 Jun 2009 - 7:57pm
DampeS8N
2008

Stick to your guns. Be ethical. Be personally responsible. Advertise
that you do these things and give examples of where you have left
jobs due to ethics. Ethical people will hire you and the others will
not. Which is where you want to be anyway.

At least that is my opinion.

Then again. I work for army.mil and there are people who would argue
that this fact alone is unethical. Why? I am not sure. But I have
been jeered at over it before. I love my job, but if I were ever
asked to do something I felt was unethical or amoral. I would refuse
to do it. And if that means I lose my job, good riddance.

I don't see that happening. The army is surprisingly ethical, even
compared to other government related jobs I have held.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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20 Jun 2009 - 8:20pm
Sharon Greenfield5
2008

Ethical except for, you know, this kind of one act play-

A Military Monday Morning Water Cooler:
Bill: Hello John. How was your weekend?
John: It was great. The wife and the kids and I went to the zoo, saw
the penguins. How was your weekend?
Bill: Good - me and the boyfriend took the dogs to the coast, then
came home and worked on the garden.

John continues working. Bill gets fired and loses his job, healthcare,
and pension.

On Jun 20, 2009, at 5:57 PM, William Brall wrote:

> Stick to your guns. Be ethical. Be personally responsible. Advertise
> that you do these things and give examples of where you have left
> jobs due to ethics. Ethical people will hire you and the others will
> not. Which is where you want to be anyway.
>
> At least that is my opinion.
>
> Then again. I work for army.mil and there are people who would argue
> that this fact alone is unethical. Why? I am not sure. But I have
> been jeered at over it before. I love my job, but if I were ever
> asked to do something I felt was unethical or amoral. I would refuse
> to do it. And if that means I lose my job, good riddance.
>
> I don't see that happening. The army is surprisingly ethical, even
> compared to other government related jobs I have held.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43028
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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20 Jun 2009 - 9:12pm
jet
2008

There are always slimeballs who will ask you to compromise your beliefs.
Back in the "webmaster-as-designer" days, a marketing manager type
came to me and said something to the effect of, "I read that there's a
bug in Netscape that lets websites get the email address of anyone who
visits a site. How can we do that? It's not a privacy problem, if they
visit our site they have no problem giving us their email addresses
because they're interested in our product."

--
J. Eric "jet" Townsend -- designer, fabricator, hacker

design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

21 Jun 2009 - 1:26am
DampeS8N
2008

Don't Ask applies to the men and women who are enlisted or are officers in
the military. Not to the men and women who work for the military or for
contractors who work for the military. I don't agree with Don't Ask. And I
look forward to its end. Thankfully, my job deals with army.mil which is a
source for news aimed at the private sector. The kind of work we do centers
around supporting programs that help homebound troops. We provide social
platforms for soldiers, their families, and their friends. We memorialize
historical events. We do a lot of good. We don't collect information about
our visitors, sometimes even to the point of not being able to log
information to know when someone has given an article a rating (which is one
of the reasons we don't have ratings on army.mil)

We don't hide information that is legally required to be accessible, what
little of this information we are charged with making available. (most of
that is DOD level) Some of the places I have worked have intentionally made
locating FoIA information hard, normally in the name of national security. I
have yet to see even the suggestion of this at army.mil.

Perhaps I should have been clearer before.

----- Original Message -----
From: "live" <human.factor.one at gmail.com>
To: "William Brall" <dampee at earthlink.net>
Cc: <discuss at ixda.org>
Sent: Saturday, June 20, 2009 9:20 PM
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Interaction flow as subterfuge.

> Ethical except for, you know, this kind of one act play-
>
> A Military Monday Morning Water Cooler:
> Bill: Hello John. How was your weekend?
> John: It was great. The wife and the kids and I went to the zoo, saw the
> penguins. How was your weekend?
> Bill: Good - me and the boyfriend took the dogs to the coast, then came
> home and worked on the garden.
>
> John continues working. Bill gets fired and loses his job, healthcare,
> and pension.
>
>
> On Jun 20, 2009, at 5:57 PM, William Brall wrote:
>
>> Stick to your guns. Be ethical. Be personally responsible. Advertise
>> that you do these things and give examples of where you have left
>> jobs due to ethics. Ethical people will hire you and the others will
>> not. Which is where you want to be anyway.
>>
>> At least that is my opinion.
>>
>> Then again. I work for army.mil and there are people who would argue
>> that this fact alone is unethical. Why? I am not sure. But I have
>> been jeered at over it before. I love my job, but if I were ever
>> asked to do something I felt was unethical or amoral. I would refuse
>> to do it. And if that means I lose my job, good riddance.
>>
>> I don't see that happening. The army is surprisingly ethical, even
>> compared to other government related jobs I have held.
>>
>>
>> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
>> Posted from the new ixda.org
>> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43028
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

21 Jun 2009 - 10:30am
John Gibbard
2008

It seems like what was a discussion about choice architecture that
reduced the liklihood of getting a discount in an online store
rapidly degenerated into an ethical soapbox (however worthy) about
gays in the military. I'm not sure we can extrapolate that far on
this list.

That aside, is - for example - the intentional hiding of a call
centre number in preference for email/online support a valid form of
dishonesty if the architect knows the call centre experience to be
inferior?

Likewise, some of the libertarian paternalism discussed by behavioral
economists could be considered unethical but these very real
architectural paeadigms have had scant discussion on these forums.

Discuss.

John

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21 Jun 2009 - 11:33am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jun 21, 2009, at 8:30 AM, john at smorgasbord-design.co.uk wrote:

> Likewise, some of the libertarian paternalism discussed by behavioral
> economists could be considered unethical but these very real
> architectural paeadigms have had scant discussion on these forums.

I wish the IxDA site had a place for best sentences ever. This would
be my top vote.

(And I'm guessing paeadigms is the ancient greek form of paradigms.)

21 Jun 2009 - 12:22pm
msweeny
2006

And for good reason, both on the Best Sentence front and, IMHO, the paradigm
discussion front.

marianne
msweeny at speakeasy.net

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jared
Spool
Sent: Sunday, June 21, 2009 9:34 AM
To: john at smorgasbord-design.co.uk
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Interaction flow as subterfuge.

On Jun 21, 2009, at 8:30 AM, john at smorgasbord-design.co.uk wrote:

> Likewise, some of the libertarian paternalism discussed by behavioral
> economists could be considered unethical but these very real
> architectural paeadigms have had scant discussion on these forums.

I wish the IxDA site had a place for best sentences ever. This would be my
top vote.

(And I'm guessing paeadigms is the ancient greek form of paradigms.)

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To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org Unsubscribe ................
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22 Jun 2009 - 10:35am
Laurie Lamar
2010

I would love to see these types of things discussed at an "Ethics"
panel at the IxD 10 Conference in Savannah... as a sign of the
maturation process of our profession/craft.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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22 Jun 2009 - 12:10pm
Molly Malsam
2009

I%u2019ve had this exact same experience at drugstore.com and was very unhappy. I spent what to me was a lot of time shopping, and bought things that I only would have bought were they at the expected discount, and then abandoned the cart in disgust when I discovered the subterfuge.

These anecdotal experiences, I suspect, would/will bear out in the market, so it%u2019s ultimately not going to be a great business decision for the company. Rather than directly facing the ethical issue, how about doing some guerrilla user research%u2014get some people to walk through the experience as it is prototyped or designed, and put some actual experiences and reactions to your point? I personally will never ever use drugstore.com again, and I don%u2019t really turn away from companies that often because I%u2019m so used to sub-par customer service/experience.

23 Jun 2009 - 12:01pm
Christopher Rider
2009

The graphic design community has been talking about this for a long
time. The First Things First manifesto is one reaction to this
problem.

it was first published in 1964:

http://www.xs4all.nl/~maxb/ftf1964.htm

Then updated in 2000:

http://www.xs4all.nl/~maxb/ftf2000.htm

Milton Glaser's interview with Debbie Millman from a few years ago
includes a particularly interesting discussion of the topic.

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