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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

ReadUnderstandWeb

You might think that everyone with access to a computer and basic literacy skills is able to understand core web browsing features, such as what site they’re on. If so, you’re wrong.

  • Exhibit A: the comments on this ReadWriteWeb blog post, where countless people have mistaken it for the actual Facebook login system. Yes, despite the huge ReadWriteWeb title, the lack of overall Facebook branding, and the content clearly not being from Facebook, they’re still putting in their details and then complaining. The fact that they got there via Google is enough to make it seem official.
  • Exhibit B: The classic How to be rich and famous, which resulted in desperate pleas and personal details being posted in the comments as if Stuart Langridge was the internet’s answer to Simon Cowell.
  • Exhibit C: Years ago I posted a colleague’s daft Big Brother application form on malevole, and to this day receive emails from people who want to be on the show.

Of course, there’s more to this than merely providing amusement for the smugly internet-savvy. It shows how crucial general web knowledge and picking up on branding/UI cues are, and clearly demonstrates why phishing is so successful. It’s also a warning for brands that are producing ads telling consumers to “Search for X” to find their sites instead of featuring URLs.


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