Unpleasant Design: Uncomfortable Websites and Demanding Services

MARCH 23rd 2017

Unpleasant Design is a design phenomenon that promotes social control through discomfort, pain, and persuasion. It raises the value of a product or its surroundings by preventing specific use scenarios such as sleeping on a park bench or loitering in a shopping mall. Unpleasant Design is not about the failure to make beautiful products but about successfully excluding certain social groups and restricting certain uses of objects.

Its implementations range from architectural interventions in public space to specially devised interaction with websites. Unpleasant Design replaces the need for supervision through the use of “silent agents” that condition our behavior.

In this talk, I will focus on patterns in the design of (free) online services that condition users in intricate ways and operate similarly to theme parks and shopping malls. I will show how online sharing platforms make our clicks intentionally uncomfortable while appearing indispensable.

About the speaker

Selena Savic

Designer and researcher with a background in architecture, exploring the convergence of digital worlds with objects and interfaces. Postdoc fellow at TU Vienna, Austria. Co-author of the Unpleasant Design Book

Newsletter Signup

Always stay informed of the next event