Sinister user experience (SUX) is the deliberate and often deceptive degradation of user experience to the benefit of the experience provider. The term is similar to dark patterns but broader in its coverage of unethical or deceptive practices.
A UX qualifies as SUX when:
- It has been intentionally degraded.
- The deterioration is meant to benefit the experience provider at the user’s expense.
- Users have either not been made aware of the degradation or are misled about its real intent.
- Amazon trapped users by signing them up for Prime subscriptions without their knowledge and then making it difficult to cancel.
- Apple was found to be secretly slowing down old iPhones and then lied about doing so.
- HP has been known for releasing “security” updates that render third-party ink cartridges unusable on its printers, forcing users to buy official, often more expensive, cartridges.
- X throttles links to competitor sites.
- Many services deliberately introduce friction into their customer support UI flows to reduce operational costs, making it harder for users to reach out in case of issues.
- Sites like Facebook make it difficult for users to delete their accounts, trying to convince them to stay at each step of the process.