Illusive Design

A radically unique human-centered take on design science. Reimagining a more humane way to social in the age of AI.

The way we interact between products and each other is broken. Illusive design is causing unprecedented rates of anxiety and depression through everyday unethical interactions. And we're going to fix it.

Based on my new science-backed design philosophy built on compassion and with over 3 years of research, this newly evolving ethical framework helps design stakeholders working with low UX maturity integrate design science with biology and CBT to expose unethical design patterns where existing principles can't. Illusive design is 80% more effective than dark patterns in exposing unethical design.









Bringing design into the AI century.

What is Illusive Design?

Illusive design is a collection of distorted reminders designed to deplete our motivation through dopamine overstimulation, manipulate our emotions through social status play, exploit cognitive biases and elevate distortions leading to anxiety, stress and depression, preventing us from sustaining balance to be the best version of ourselves.

The Problem

Design heuristics try to explain best practices using principles backed by empirical research. Dark patterns try to catch common tricks but only accounts for 20% of unethical patterns. These strategies however are not enough to stop the attention economy and do not work in the age of AI. Anxiety and depression are on the rise through everyday interactions including outrageous feeds, unregulated user generated content, highlight reels and comparative beauty filters.

Interactions between people and products should be playing the same iterative game yet bad usability plays with different rules allowing illusive design to seep into the product exploiting our biases and causing distorted thinking patterns. It's not us that have to change and adapt to technology, it's technology that needs to adapt to us as the fundamental principles of interaction are permanent.

The Solution

By adopting the new ethical Altruheuristic Evaluation along with the existing principles, we can migitate the proliferation of illusive design with the addition of biology, cognitive science and CBT. Together we can eradicate everyday illusions to design a more meaningful, inclusive and humane world free of suffering, toxicity and algorithmic bias.

Pre-AI Principles

Gestalt Principles


Graphic Design


Dark Patterns


Jakob Nielson


Don Norman


The New Post-AI Altruheuristics

The ultimate goal of sustaining allostasis through compassion with altruistic + heuristics + pre-AI principles.


Limitations of the mind and body.

View Principles


Cognitive distortions.

View Principles

Cognitive Biases

Heuristics gone wrong.

View Principles

Circ's Principles

Illusive design patterns.

View Principles

Mental Health

Interactions with ill-intent.

View Principles

Download Altruheuristics

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Illusive Design Patterns

Exposing everyday unethical interactions where other principles can't.

Elite Survivors →

Misrepresenting reality through survivorship to increase sales, user adoption and engagement.

Visual Filtering →

Determining self worth through the exploitation of competitive comparison for engagement.

Vortex →

Enable habit-forming addictions for engagement.

Cold Start →

Displaying the most irrelevant or outrageous content for blind engagement.

Fake Seeding →

Generating fake user content and users for engagement.

Algodini →

Optimizing algorithms affecting the interface without providing feedback for retention.

Spamva →

Injecting premium upgrades into freely usable interactions for premium adoption.

Botsake →

Using bots in place of real people for customer support.

Classy →

Polarization though the use of filter bubbles and categorization for status.

Shadow →

Using the online disinhibition effect to influence different behaviors online compared to offline.

Subtle Ads →

Enabling miss-clicks and preventing continual visual scanning by injecting ads for profit.

Hidden Costs →

Making prices appear cheaper at the start of the journey for transaction completion.

Fish-hooking →

Drawing users in with misleading prices for engagement.

Default Priming →

Priming such as passing costs to user for profit.

Guilty Load →

Preventing a user from leaving for retention.

Anxious Mistake →

Pressuring user for engagement.

Disrupted Attention →

Retrieving a user's personal information before forming trust.

Minimizing →

Making it easy to skip the boring yet important information for faster adoption.