Make Sure You Are Seen in a Positive Light

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld Show, we discuss the dangers of persuasion and how it can undermine your brand.

This week’s show is sponsored by Balsamiq and Fullstory.


Paul Boag: This week on the Boagworld Show we discuss the dangers of persuasion and how it can undermine your brand. This week's show is sponsored by Balsamiq and Fullstory.

Hello, welcome to Boagworld Show, the podcast about all aspects of digital design, development, and strategy. My name is Paul Boag, joining me on this week's show is Marcus Lillington. Hello Marcus Lillington.

Marcus Lillington: Hello Paul. Are you now a robot?

Paul Boag: So I am indeed a robot.

Marcus Lillington: Is buying expensive iPhones … does that turn you into a robot?

Paul Boag: It turns you into a mindless zombie that does exactly what he's told by Apple. Yeah. Ah, what a joy.

Marcus Lillington: Lots of questions coming in on the room. I expect they're all very very sensible.

Paul Boag: No, they're asking about why the video is broken, which apparently it's not. It's not for me.

Marcus Lillington: It's not for me, who cares?

Paul Boag: And which iPhone did I buy? No, I bought the extra big one, the max, I went to the max!

Marcus Lillington: So you can only just sort of see the tip of your thumb on your finger at the side of it.

Paul Boag: I've always liked the bigger phones, you see? So I was a bit disappointed when-

Marcus Lillington: Hello!

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah, because people still hold their phones to their heads to make a call. Well, I don't anyway. Yeah, so I went with that because I wanted to get rid of my … I've got an iPad, I've got an iPhone, I don't want both, I just want one thing that's somewhere in the middle. You know what I miss? I miss the iPad Mini. I liked the iPad Mini.

Marcus Lillington: Still got mine. I don't know whether it works. It probably does work, but it's probably very slow.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: But I know what you mean. Even just the normal iPad is a bit heavy for kinda reading stuff.

Paul Boag: It is, yeah, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: It's just not … But the Mini is brilliant. So basically you want a phone the size of the iPad Mini.

Paul Boag: No, 'cause that would be silly.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah. Oh! inaudible 00:02:15

Paul Boag: But oh, someone's posted a question using the question feature in chat room.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, what's that? Is that inaudible 00:02:22 to you.

Paul Boag: Do you talk to your phone like slice of toast? I don't get that. Lewis has got a bit of a strange sense of humor. I don't really get him. Apparently there's a meme associated with it or something. I don't understand it.

Marcus Lillington: Have you got it yet?

Paul Boag: No, I don't get till Friday-

Marcus Lillington: When does it comes out? I don't know.

Paul Boag: Friday. Friday, Friday.

Marcus Lillington: So next week we can talk about this some more and get you to show it to us?

Paul Boag: Yes, which will work really well for an audio podcast. Don't forget we do an audio podcast. This video stuff … I mean just look at my face at the moment, I am not made for video. So this is an audio-first-

Marcus Lillington: inaudible 00:03:05 I had one.

Paul Boag: No, I haven't. I've just randomly decided to sprout spots underneath my nose-

Marcus Lillington: Like a teenager.

Paul Boag: … and look kind of all, you know, yeah, baggy-eyed and stuff. So there we go. Okay, so let's talk … Should we talk about something useful?

Marcus Lillington: Go on then.

Paul Boag: I just wanna remind people what this season is about, 'cause not everybody has been listening to every episode. This season we're looking at encouraging clicks. How to encourage people to take action on your website without alienating them? Without alienating users, and that's the key thing. Actually, I'm gonna turn it into a book, I've decided. I've been talking with the guys at Smashing, 'cause I always publish with them, about turning it into a book. And at the moment we're having an argument about what the title of the book should be. I wanna call it encouraging clicks, which I think is a perfectly legitimate nice title for a book.

Marcus Lillington: Brainwashing your users would work much better.

Paul Boag: Well, bitterly I wanted to call it Click!

Marcus Lillington: Hmm …

Paul Boag: I know.

Marcus Lillington: Hmm …

Paul Boag: It's a trend in book writing, you've got to go for some really obscure stupid arse title. I said I will call it Click! If a can the have the strapline, Getting People to Click Without Being a Dick.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, I hope you're serious.

Paul Boag: I would seriously publish a book with that title.

Marcus Lillington: That's fantastic.

Paul Boag: It'd be brilliant, wouldn't it? Wouldn't be so-

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:04:41 'Cause that's exactly what it's all about.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: It's the ultimate descriptive title.

Paul Boag: It's descriptive, but also it's engaging. Yeah, see, everybody in the chat room would buy that book.

Marcus Lillington: inaudible 00:04:52

Paul Boag: So there we go, that's what I'm trying to do. Anyway, all of that was just to say but that's what we're talking about in this season.

Marcus Lillington: Hmm, cool.

Paul Boag: Getting people to click without being a dick. Actually-

Marcus Lillington: There is a lovely ring to that.

Paul Boag: … the dick part of it is very relevant in this particular week, 'cause what we're gonna be talking about in this particular episode of the show is the dangers of persuasion. How you end up kind of going into the dick-ish territories. And so we're gonna discuss that a little bit later on this show.

Jo in the chat room has come up … He has rightly identified that talking in terms of clicking is very limiting, that a lot of people-

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:05:37 Good advice, this.

Paul Boag: … use mobile devices today. So he's-

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:05:39 Flat screen is a thing.

Paul Boag: It is a thing. So alongside, yeah, getting people to click without being a dick, we also have or tap without being a inaudible 00:05:47. But actually I have to say that's very rude. Dick is more acceptable in my-

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:05:56 Do you think so?

Paul Boag: … opinion. I think so.

Marcus Lillington: In your male-orientated patriarchal world, Paul.

Paul Boag: Yes, you probably got a really good point. So what you're saying is that to ensure gender quality, we should-

Marcus Lillington: I hope you've tweeted that Lewis. Dick is more acceptable, said Paul Boag.

Paul Boag: I take that bit back, all right? I'm perfectly happy to allow inaudible 00:06:25 as well as dicks. There we go.

Marcus Lillington: Good, good, good, glad to hear it Paul.

Paul Boag: We're gonna have to put an explicit tag on this show now. I don't know if I know how to do that.

Marcus Lillington: Don't ask me-

Paul Boag: crosstalk 00:06:37 The little kiddies will suffer. I imagine we get a lot of children listening to this show, and their little ears will be forever corrupted.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, oh.

Paul Boag: See, Lewis is nice, he won't tweet that he likes me, and he also agrees on the T word, there you go, see. I'm a wise man.

Marcus Lillington: Creep, yes, quite right Paul.

Paul Boag: We need to stop talking to people in the chat room.

Marcus Lillington: Yes, we do.

Paul Boag: They're a bad influence. Marcus.

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag: You haven't said what your thought for the day is.

Marcus Lillington: I'm going off piste, we're gonna come back to the Headscape website. You just got mustache envy, haven't you Paul?

Paul Boag: I just need to color in the spots, to join them up. Sorry, I'm feeling very self-conscious today on this audio podcast.

Marcus Lillington: Well, I'm not surprised looking like that.

Paul Boag: Go on then. What-

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:07:38 I wouldn't even have noticed if you hadn't said anything. There you go. So yes, we're having a little break from the Headscape site redesign. This week's thought is called hang in there. So as you've already no doubt deduced from the things I've been saying over the past weeks, that this year hasn't been all that brilliant on the winning new work front.

Paul Boag: Tell me about out.

Marcus Lillington: Start of the year was okay. But this summer, apart from one client who we think majorly, has been awful frankly. And I'm hearing the same story from everyone, including yourself Paul, you were complaining of somebody canceling something on you just last week I believe.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: This got me thinking about a blog post that I started writing back in 2014 when we went through a similar period. So what was that? Four years ago now. And it's entitled … it changed titles, but its current title is: is work drying up? And it's full of sage logic in my opinion, about how even though more work is going in-house and there more experts in the field, more agencies, all that kind of thing, that there are many many people and organizations around the world that need our help. And I stand by that. However I refuse to publish my article, first of all because I worry that I am completely and utterly wrong-

Paul Boag: That's never stopped me publishing anything.

Marcus Lillington: Well, yeah, yeah, in my case I am slightly worried about that one. But also because I think it would be, wait for it, bad luck.

Paul Boag: Oh no.

Marcus Lillington: I'm even concerned about talking about it on this show, but I've started-

Paul Boag: crosstalk 00:09:19 Oh no!

Marcus Lillington: All of this is obviously superstition and I am the kind of person who publicly pulls up other people on their ridiculous superstitions. I delight in opening umbrellas indoors, putting shoes on tables, walking under ladders, throwing salt over the wrong should and not saluting magpies. So I'm was concerned-

Paul Boag: What?! Hang on a minute, I was with you till that last one. You're supposed to salute magpies?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: Is that a thing? I didn't know that.

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:09:47 Do you know that?

Paul Boag: I didn't know that.

Marcus Lillington: It's a thing, yes. Like all the others it's all utter twaddle, but this feels different. This article has become a thing that I can never publish. So anyway, why am I talking about it now? I guess so I can talk about it without having to publish the unpublishable article.

But basically, bottom line, so this says … So the title may be gives a clue, hang in there. Last week was a very good week for Headscape. Two new clients/projects came in after lots and lots of work, and waiting, and all that kind of thing. And there's another one we're waiting on as well, which, fingers crossed … One of these has been in the offing for months and months. And what I realized as I was thinking about this thought for the day is that they could've both easily been lost. We've lost some crackers over the summer as well, and these ones could've been similar.

When we found it, we tipped it on the pitch, we were behind, and we managed to kind of flip it over on the pitch. And who knows? You could've had a day where you don't really get on with somebody, and that would've been … So we would've been out the door.

And the other people, I've got a habit of kind of incessantly asking people, if I send them an email, I'll say, "If this isn't right for you, make sure we keep the conversation-

Paul Boag: Conversation going.

Marcus Lillington: Most people don't. Most people ignore that and they make their decision without talking to you. But these people did keep coming back and say, "We really like all of this stuff, this bit, this thing doesn't sit with us at all." And I'd go, "Oh, that's no problem, we can fix that." And we ended up wining it, so hurray.

So I think what it really boils down to is that though we are good at what we do, so are most of the competition. So it seems to be the little things that are the difference between wining jobs and not. So my thought for the day is remind yourself that just because you're not winning work, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're doing anything wrong. You might be, so analyze your prices, and see if there's anything glaring. But don't fret that you're suddenly way worse than you were six months ago, when all you were doing was complaining about having too much work, 'cause you're probably, you know, you're the same level of skill I suppose is what I wanna say.

I've been doing this for a very long time now, and it's become very clear that these things go in cycles. Obviously, we try to allow for this but sometimes that's just how it is, and we need to be patient, and we need to use our downtime wisely. Which brings me nicely back to next's weeks thought of the day which will be about redesigning the Headscape site, which we used our downtime wisely to do. That's it.

Paul Boag: I tell you the other thing that I really think is a big factor with these challenges is that it's about your state of mind, isn't it? Which goes back to the hanging in there.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, it was bad around the end of July, not good, even for me.

Paul Boag: Yeah, and the problem that you have in those kinds of situations is that when you do win a piece of work, right? You go, "Oh, I've won it, phew, thanks. I could put that one in the bank, now let's move on, let's find the next piece." And so you're focusing on the failures the whole time rather than the positives.

So you're kind of self-perpetuating, and you almost send out like a failure mentality or a victim mentality. And I'm not talking about all that bullocks you get from American business gurus that say, think yourself to victory or any of that crap. But it is true that that state of mind is a big factor in it. And that's even more emphasized actually in my kind of case where you're selling yourself. So when someone says no to you, that is a personal, that's me that they're rejecting as a human being. You know?

Marcus Lillington: It's horrible.

Paul Boag: So it's a tricky old business. But you're right, it goes in waves. And a lot of the time, your reasons for losing work are so so varied, and so all over the place, aren't they? And it can be something absolutely trivial like they didn't like the shirt that you were wearing has been a factor in decision-making I know in the past, all the way through to the fact that CEO's nephew was involved with the other team.

Marcus Lillington: It's usually the case. Somebody is favored in some way that you don't know anything about. There's nothing you can do about it, nothing at all. So yeah, just, yeah, stick with it. That's my thought. I won't repeat myself.

Paul Boag: No, it's a good thought.

Okay, let's talk about Balsamiq which is our first sponsor for today. They are very keen to help you improve your products and services, and the best thing is it's not gonna cost you a penny. You don't need to sign up for Balsamiq, you don't need to pay the money, although I highly recommend that you do do that, because they're lovely.

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Also, if you're looking for a bit of constructive feedback on your website, especially around user experience and that kind of stuff, I am creating a series of videos for them. So we're looking for websites that we can review, and I can then go through your website. So let's say you send me the URL of your website, I'll then review that website, create a little video out of it, that they then will share obviously with you, but they'll also share it online for other people to see it as well. So it's a great way of getting a little review on your site.

If you fancy signing up for that one, you can do so by going to Talking of /learn on their website that's worth checking out as well. They've got loads of great blog posts and content out there. Okay.

Marcus Lillington: What we're talking about, Paul?

Paul Boag: What's all this going on in the chat room? Everybody going on about swearing.

Marcus Lillington: Yes, I'll get my beep out to cover up words that we've said-

Paul Boag: crosstalk 00:17:01 Oh good, oh good. I'm glad you're doing that-

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:17:03 It does sound funny.

Paul Boag: It does. No, it's a good thing to do, because I do like to keep it reasonably clear. I know I'm a bit crap sometimes. Well, that's-

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:17:13 A bit of a tosser.

Paul Boag: … the difficult one. The other problem I have is that I get Americans complain to me quite a lot about some of the words that we use in the podcast. But to us, those aren't swear words, right? Well, they'll use some words … Yeah, so for example using the word like shit or crap is very very mild over here, but a lot more in America. It's a lot bigger deal in America. While, and please don't beep those out otherwise that whole sentence is gonna be meaningless. While-

Marcus Lillington: Paul crosstalk 00:17:47 can we beep out really?

Paul Boag: But it wasn't-

Marcus Lillington: it was a different word. What was it?

Paul Boag: It was a different word, I can't remember now. Right. Right. While a word like … inaudible 00:18:02 fanny packs all the time, which has got a totally different meaning over here. So it's really interesting. It's quite a tricky one to get right.

Marcus Lillington: Right.

Paul Boag: See what I did there. Right, okay, oh, I did right. Stop it. We're gonna talk about the danger of persuasion, right? Oh god, this is just painful. I've done it again.

At the start of this show I said that we're gonna look at why some of those inaudible 00:18:35 techniques don't work, and why you should avoid them. Now obviously these kind of inaudible 00:18:41 techniques that are increasingly used on website are known as dark patterns, and there's inaudible 00:18:48 a great article, he says humbly, on dark patterns that I will put in the show notes and you can check out. If you don't know what a dark pattern is, a dark pattern is essentially any manipulative technique that effectively tricks people into doing what they don't really want to do.

So a great example of it would be those check boxes that you always use to start … find on forms, where it said, "If you do not wish to receive our email newsletter, please check the unchecked check box." And you're like, "Ah," and you're not sure whether you're supposed to check it or not, and they kinda trick you in signing up.

Another one would be companies that add insurance to your shopping basket without asking, or other products or services. There's a whole plethora of these little things, and they're increasingly common.

Of course one person's perception of what a dark pattern is can be very different to another person's perception of it, right? So I might find something unacceptable that Marcus, you're quite happy with. So it's really important to realize here that it's not about what you think is all right running the company, it's what you're users think is all right and what they find acceptable.

But the problem is … So you instantly think, "Well, okay, we should just avoid these things." All right? But the problem with these kinds of things is that they actually work. Right?

Marcus Lillington: I guess why the likes of the holiday sites that we keep picking on do what they do. And that doesn't bother me anymore, because I ignore it. I don't get bothered by the fact that there's only two spaces left, 'cause I don't believe them. And I'd go back, and they're always … You know. Well, they're saying that, some of them they do say sold out. And I think that's just a kind of try and make seem more real, isn't it? I've never had a problem. Well, I've kind of … I've dilly-dallied for a day and gone back and found oh my thing that I wanted isn't there. So I just don't believe it.

Paul Boag: But what you've got to ask yourself is even if they weren't lying, right? So let's give you another inaudible 00:21:10 but not pick on holiday sites, 'cause we've done too many of them. Let's do Etsy, right? Pick on Etsy. So Etsy sell handcrafted one-off items, right? And so if you go to their website, you're looking at a one-off piece of furniture, inaudible 00:21:27 bought recently, and it said on the screen, "Three other people have added this to their basket." Right? The implication being that three other people are about to buy this one-off item.

Now, you could argue that either way. You could argue that it's a dark pattern that's designed to manipulate me into buying quickly. But you could argue, "Well, it's a legitimate service to tell you that you could miss out on this one-off item." All right. So that's what I mean about … It all depends on interpretation, and that means that we need to understand how our users see it.

Marcus Lillington: But doesn't that actually mean that three other people have put it in their basket at some point?

Paul Boag: Yeah, right.

Marcus Lillington: Not right now.

Paul Boag: You don't know. And this is the problem with it. And your reaction really is the problem with dark patterns. Where it becomes dangerous is whether or not the intention behind that was good, right? It's the fact that you see and go, "Oh, they're just trying to manipulate me, this is bullocks." Okay?

So that is where the problem lies, okay? Yes, they do work, they absolutely do work. You can measure and increase in conversion that comes out of using these manipulative techniques. But what you're not seeing is the cost that goes alongside that, because the cost comes in forms that are harder to measure, right? So the bad taste that it leaves in your mouth, right, will not have a short-term impact on their bottom line, but it will have a longer-term impact. All right? And that's where you start to have problems, because for a start, we're gonna see a slow and consistent decline in the effectiveness of these dark patterns, because as you've already demonstrated perfectly for me, consumers are increasingly cynical, they're increasingly savvy, okay?

So the result of that is that it's going to be less effective, but also it means that they are very likely just to walk away, because they've got so much choice, and there are so many sites out there that can provide what they want, that they see something like this and go, "Well, stuff inaudible 00:24:12, I'll go and buy it elsewhere."

So you will begin to see a decline in it, but there's a more fundamental problem that's going on, which is that there is a fundamental shift in power, 'cause let's be clear; dark patterns have been around for donkeys years, right? Well before the web, okay? These kinds of techniques to manipulate you into buying, that's-

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:24:40 sales and things like that, yeah.

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah, it's kind of madman territory in advertising. The difference is the reason that these techniques are becoming increasingly dangerous is because of the impact the web has had. Impact number one is there's more choice than ever before, so people can flip over to somebody else. Impact number two is the fundamental shift there has been in the power between the customer and the company, right? One disgruntled customer can undermine an entire brand, okay? And this is absolutely crucial to realize.

So for example I must have told the story of Hasan Syed, who took out promoted tweet-

Marcus Lillington: British Airways.

Paul Boag: … about British Airways, right? That caused them a major PR disaster. Another older example is Jeff Jarvis who wrote a blog post entitled My Dell Hell, where he talked about bad customer service with Dell. That reportedly knocked a third of Dell's share price. Right?

So the point is is that one pissed off client can make an enormous difference, can have a huge impact. So the result of that is that we need to be much more careful, because companies don't make the correlation between bad annoyed customers and dark patterns. There's not a direct link that you can track through in the same way as you can track, oh, we added a pop-up overlay that caused a 20% increase of conversion, therefore pop-up overlays must be good. There is more to it, you need to think more strategically about the long-term impact that your decisions are having.

But there is one other factor as well that we need to factor in here, which is bias remorse. Okay? If you're manipulated into signing up for a newsletter, purchasing a product, doing anything that you're not happy with, it generates a reaction. Right? Where you go away dissatisfied, okay?

Now, that is massively expensive to businesses. And businesses constantly underestimate the cost of buyers remorse. It means that they're gonna complain about you, which increases your marketing cost, they're more likely to return, and the cost of returning an item is huge. They're more likely to call customer support, and the cost of dealing with customer complaint inquiries is big as well; they're less likely to purchase again. All of these factors cost your business money.

But the problem that you encounter within the organizations is they've got this siloed thinking. So I'm sitting in the UX department where I am under pressure to increase the conversion rate, so I put the manipulative technique.

Now, what I never hear about is the spike that then happens in customer complaints, right? Because I'm not that department, so I'm not thinking about that department.

Marcus Lillington: That's right. It's like if you're … If another department is being driven by selling extras then they're only gonna be measured by how many extras they sell. And if that puts off if they're buying something again, that's not encountered. Basically I'm agreeing with you entirely.

We've said this before, you need to have somebody who; A) has power, and B) is able to view wholistically the user experience or the customer journey, just to kind of see if there are any areas like this that are gonna cause problems.

Paul Boag: Yeah. But there is a flip side to this I think, 'cause obviously I'm preaching to the choir saying all of this. But the flip side of it is a .. that we as people that care about the user experience need to recognize that dark patterns do work. Right? And that we need to be better in our argument than they're really bad. Right? I've read so many articles about dark patterns saying we shouldn't use them they're unethical. But what is unethical is the eye of the beholder. Right? And okay, you might consider it unethical but other people don't.

Some people don't care, not because they're bad people but because they're under enormous to reach these targets and achieve these goals that management have placed upon them. So we need to stop talking about people who use … but dark patterns is evil or unethical, and instead provide them with solid tangible business case in order to take a different approach. And that means we need to break out of our silos, we need to understand what's going on in other teams, etc. etc. There we go.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, I've just got one thing that keeps buzzing around my head is I know we said we wouldn't talk about-

Paul Boag: Yeah, that's all right.

Marcus Lillington: … travel sites, but I would've thought that a site as big as them would have noticed by now if what might be considered as dark patterns they use is affecting their business long-term.

So the little question in the back of my head is say, "Well, they're still doing it." So is it really bad, actually?

Paul Boag: It's an interesting one, right? For a start, you made a huge assumption that I am learning more and more, it's just totally inaccurate, which is this assumption that oh, because they're big, they must know with they're doing. Right?

Marcus Lillington: Absolutely. Yes, I just thought they would have the resources to test this. They may not be.

Paul Boag: Yes. They test a lot. I don't wanna get into talking about, I've got a bit of insights into how they operate internally, and it's a bit kind of unfair to-

Marcus Lillington: Pick on them particularly.

Paul Boag: … pick on them, yeah, and to show the world their dirty laundry. But like any company, they're not perfect. They don't have anymore joined up integration between business units as anybody else.

And yes, they're very very good at testing stuff, but it all depends what you're testing, doesn't it? Are they testing the right thing, etc.

Marcus Lillington: Fair enough.

Paul Boag: And this is a problem that absolutely everybody faces. I see it in all kinds of organizations from huge multinational ecommerce brands, all the way through to tech startups and everything in between. Ah, okay. Go on, you can say-

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:32:16 But in their defense, I still use their site. I just ignore all the silly messaging.

Paul Boag: And I think the reason … You see, what … Part of the reason that they are a little bit protected from dark patterns, right? And the negative side of dark patterns is because their usability is superb.

Marcus Lillington: Absolutely.

Paul Boag: Right? And so you forgive them the rest. Do you know what I mean?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, yeah, maybe that's what it is. I say that I'm used to it, but actually maybe it's just … I'll allow them it, because-

Paul Boag: You'll allow them it because who do you go to? What's your crosstalk 00:32:55 alternative?

Marcus Lillington: It gets great results, so it's very easy to use.

Paul Boag: Yeah, exactly.

Right, let's talk about our second sponsor which is Fullstory. I wanna talk about session recorders, because obviously that's what Fullstory provide, and I always get the same reaction. If you'd not come across session recorders before, what essentially they do is they allow you to watch back real users navigating around your website, okay? Seeing what they're doing, seeing what actions they're taking, and the great thing from a user experience point of view is those people are behaving utterly naturally, because it's their task, and they don't know they're being observed. Right?

That's the point you react, isn't it? Oh, I don't like the fact that I'm going around websites and people are watching me.

Marcus Lillington: inaudible 00:33:53 Paul.

Paul Boag: Yeah, maybe, maybe, and it's a judgment that you need to make over that. And so session recorders sound intrinsically creepy, but I do just wanna touch on that a little bit, and about some things. The first thing to say is obviously all of those sessions are anonymous, you don't know who those people are, you don't know what they're … I've got no name or personal information in any way associated with it.

Also Fullstory are better over backwards in this regards inaudible 00:34:29 I absolutely love it. They will exclude sensitive customer data, all right? So that you can't see anything they are entering in those kinds of fields etc. And all you really know about somebody is really what browser they're using, maybe their rough location, that kind of stuff.

You could also block any IP ranges that you want to, so if there are some users coming from certain sources that you don't want to see, then fine, you can block those out. You can block out any fields that you choose if wanna keep it anonymous. There's a lot that you can do to kinda mitigate those kinds of issues.

And obviously you probably are thinking about GDPRS. GDPRS, what the hell is that? Do you know what I mean there?

Marcus Lillington: You're mixing two things together. You're mixing GDPR and PRS.

Paul Boag: Yes, I am. GDPR, sorry. They've obviously spent a lot of time and if you google Fullstory and GDPR, you can find out about how they're addressing it.

So it's really good to see how you can kind of minimize the creep factor of tools like this while still getting the benefit, 'cause it is so … I don't give a monkey's arse who somebody is, but I care about how they're trying to complete a task. Being able to see that stuff is so invaluable, so that let the creep factor put you off from just looking at this in a little bit more depth because it's … yeah, there's some really interesting stuff there.

You can try them out for free for a month, their pro account, no need to enter a credit card talking about dark patterns attention P me off majorly. Oh, I signed up for a free trial, enter your credit card and we'll start charging you at the end. You just … No!

Marcus Lillington: Yes. So you have to put yourself in a reminder in your calendar-

Paul Boag: Yeah, to cancel it.

Marcus Lillington: … to cancel the day before. Yeah.

Paul Boag: But what happens? I had this happen to me recently, right? What happened? It charged me automatically. So what did I do? Contacted customer services who had to refund my money, right? They have to. Okay, so all that did, that dark pattern, all it achieved was basically forcing somebody to do extra work within the company.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, and piss you off.

Paul Boag: Yes, exactly. Anyway, anyway they're not doing that at Fullstory, they're not doing that. You can signup without any credit cards. If you get to the end of the trial period of the pro account and you still love it but not enough, because you can't afford it for whatever reason, you can get a 1,000 sessions per month anyway, which is great for small little people like me that just wanna kind of try it out on some key pages. To sign up and to try it out, go to Okay, here we go.

Marcus Lillington: Cool.

Paul Boag: That's that.

So the second part. So we've talked about how we don't want to alienate people, and we should avoid dark patterns. But we also do wanna position ourselves in a positive light. And where's the line there, right? Where do you go from sounding manipulative to doing it right.

So for example, we've all seen … inaudible 00:38:05 I'll come back to that in a minute. So we have to walk this line between being positive but not manipulating people, all right? So we don't want to necessarily kind of influence people's thought process in a manipulative way, but let's be honest, you cannot influences somebody's perception. Right?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: So every decision and everything you do essentially does to some degree influence somebody's perception. And as Paul has pointed out in the chat room, that's our job. Right? Our job is positioning stuff in a positive light, okay?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, don't leave … I mean you can say be truthful, that would be a good place to start. But you could say don't leave any truths out, that could be a place where you draw the line. And I think that that is actually quite a good rule, because if you start leaving stuff out, then you are manipulating people. You could argue that you're not but …

Paul Boag: Even little things, right, just to give you an example of how you can't avoid influencing someone's behavior, all right?

Marcus Lillington: Okay.

Paul Boag: Consider, well, let's use hotels, we've been talking about hotels, why the hell not, right? So you've done a search on hotels in Paris, all right? And you return a list of hotels, okay? You being the person that's designed the website. So you've designed the website, you've returned a list of hotels, what order do you display those hotels in, right? Would you-

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:39:59 The ones that paid you the most money.

Paul Boag: … would you order them alphabetically? Let's set aside the paid the most money thing, right? Let's presume everybody's paid you the same amount. Would you order them alphabetically? Would you order them from least to most expensive? Would order them from most to least costly? Or would you order them randomly?

Marcus Lillington: That's a really tough one, isn't it?

Paul Boag: Blah, because whatever decision-

Marcus Lillington: Human beings really like alphabetical lists, but lists of hotels, we're so used to them being seemingly random, we accept it. But my general rule is a list should be alphabetical.

Paul Boag: But that's actually not very helpful from a user experience point of view, because-

Marcus Lillington: In this case who cares? Yeah, if it's called the alpha hotel or the beta hotel, doesn't matter-

Paul Boag: No.

Marcus Lillington: … it's if you're searching on a list where you do know what you're searching for-

Paul Boag: crosstalk 00:40:59 Well, we do care about price.

Marcus Lillington: Yes, but cheapest to most expensive, I don't know. It depends on what I'm after.

Paul Boag: The interesting thing is, if you list the most expensive first, it will increase your conversion rate. And the reason being is because it makes all of the subsequent ones look cheap by comparison. So my question is; is that manipulation? Or is it just basically showing your product and service in a positive light?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, I mean as long as you provided tools to change it to whichever way you want it, then that's fine.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: I mean I suppose you could argue that it is manipulation of a king, but you need to pick something, do you?

Paul Boag: Yes, that's my point. That's the kind of point I'm driving at. We do need to pick something, and in my view it's okay to pick the most positive thing. You see, what you're doing is you're anchoring people with the high price, right? Your saying effectively, this is a price, oh, right so everything looks cheaper in comparison to that anchorer.

So another great example of the same principle are charity websites, right? When you go to a charity website to make a donation, normally they would suggest some amounts, right?

Marcus Lillington: Yes, correct.

Paul Boag: Now, the reason that they do that is because people don't know how much to give when they go to a website. So what they do then in a situation like that, if you didn't have those anchor points, people create their own anchor, right? So they go, "Well, what did I give last time I gave to charity, and am I feeling better or worse off than I was last time I gave?" So we create anchors whether or not somebody does it for us.

So the question then well, is it manipulative to suggest these figures, or actually is it a useful guide to give somebody a helpful anchor, like if you give 10 pounds, you can buy an entire family mosquito nets for example.

Marcus Lillington: It's both, Paul.

Paul Boag: Yeah, and in my mind, what I'm getting at is that that's okay. All right? So although I've been very negative about dark patterns, I don't feel that this falls into those categories, I think this is more framing yourself in a positive light.

Let me give you one last example just to kind of wrap up on this particular subject, right? Which is we do this all the time in the way we word things. So take for example how companies sell anti bacterial surface cleaner, right? They always make claims like kill 98% of germs. Great, wonderful! Sounds great, doesn't it? But if we reward that as it fails to kill 2% of germs, it suddenly sounds a lot less compelling, right? Both statements are correct, but one will obviously convert a lot higher than another, and that's okay, in mind at least. It's interesting-

Marcus Lillington: That's when it comes to … Yeah, what I was saying earlier about not leaving truths out, maybe you should be saying both. I know how you would say that, I don't know. I don't actually believe that in that particular case, it's fine to say kills 98% of germs, people could work it out, can't they?

Paul Boag: Yeah, exactly.

Marcus Lillington: I suspect that there are occasion when using that kind of language would bother me. I can't think of anything else off the top of my head. Just because of what I said earlier about making sure you include all the truths, you don't leave any truths out.

Paul Boag: And that … You said something there that I think is the key to it, that there are occasions where it would bother me, all right. So the moral of the story here I you need to do your user research. You need to understand what people are thinking, what they consider unacceptable to them.

And I could give you a real example of this, Marcus. When we worked on Wiltshire Farm Foods, do you remember at the very beginning at Wiltshire Farm Foods, when we first started working on them, they didn't have universal pricing. In other words, each franchise … They're a franchised organization, and each franchise had its own pricing. They could price however they wanted. So in order to find out the price crosstalk 00:45:47 you had to enter your post code.

Now, that's a pain in the arse to do. And the website had plastered across it, free delivery, right? Because their delivery is free, okay? But I remember us testing with one guy, I don't know whether you remember it-

Marcus Lillington: I don't remember it.

Paul Boag: … who entered his post code and the price went down. Okay?

Marcus Lillington: Okay.

Paul Boag: Because that was the way that we were doing it. We were showing the highest price, okay? And then when they entered the post code, we would show a lower price. He was incandescent with rage, right? Because in his mind, that drop in price showed that we were charging some people for delivery. That's how he viewed it in his mind, right or wrong, that's how he saw it, okay?

So he associated the price … Basically, he thought we were hiding delivery price. Okay? And that's a classic example of where you've gotta be really careful about the way you communicate. It was probably an outlier, but it wasn't an outlier.

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:47:04 you.

Paul Boag: crosstalk 00:47:06 But it is the fact that people are strange, they don't see things as the way that we do. And we have a cognitive bias, because we work on these websites all the time. So yeah, there you go, it's interesting, it's an interesting topic this week where the line is, and there is no answer other than-

Marcus Lillington: It changes per audience, per person. Yeah. You've got to do your homework.

Paul Boag: And you need to do … Do your homework, there you go.

All right, that about wraps it up for this show. Marcus, do you have a joke for us?

Marcus Lillington: I do, this is from David Philips on the Joke Channel, on the Boagworld Slack Channel. I like this one. Sherlock Holmes is gardening when Dr. Watson comes over to visit. I could've said that sentence better. Anyway. Watson asks, "What are you planting?" Oh for goodness sake. Start again.

Sherlock Holmes is gardening when Dr. Watson comes over to visit. Watson asks, "What are you planting?" Holmes replies, "A lemon tree my dear Watson."

Paul Boag: Oh.

Marcus Lillington: That's a really hard one to pronounce, a lemon tree, a lemon tree.

Paul Boag: A lemon tree. There is a reoccurring theme with all your jokes, they're all plays on words.

Marcus Lillington: I know.

Paul Boag: You need to come with something different.

Marcus Lillington: I love a pun, I'm a pun person.

Paul Boag: You're a pun person.

Marcus Lillington: Uh-huh.

Paul Boag: Well, there's no helping some people. Puns like … Oh no, that's not a pun, is it? I was gonna go back to my strap line for the book, but it's not a pun really, it's more of a rhyme.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: All right, well, don't wait for a book that will never happen because me and inaudible 00:48:55 will constantly argue about the title of it. Don't worry, get yourself the master class today by going But until then, thank you for listening and next week we should be back to talk about-

Marcus Lillington: Something else.

Paul Boag: … something. What are we talking about next week? Risk, managing risk, and helping people … the under-appreciated role of appreciation. That's a fairly difficult set inaudible 00:49:30. Do you think we ought to just stop doing this podcast now because neither of us can speak anymore?

Marcus Lillington: crosstalk 00:49:36

Paul Boag: Let's call it a day.

Marcus Lillington: Well, that's it, no more.

Paul Boag: That's it. inaudible 00:49:39 that's it. No, just for this week. All right, talk to you again next week guys, the for listening and goodbye.

Thanks to Mopic from Shutterstock for allowing me to use this image.