Illusive Design Pattern

Subtle Ads

The ad looks very similar to a regular post. The ad text is small and inaccessible.


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


Apps such as Google, Twitter and Quora contain content listed in a feed. Some of the content are ads however it’s hard to gauge which one is which as the ads are near identical to the content. This leads to miss-clicks and prevents the user from habitually ignoring the ads. The ad contains sponsored text that is small and inaccessible.

Post-AI Altruheuristics

  • Framing Bias
  • Salient Bias
  • Stress: Hard to find the information that was sought after.
  • Flow: Breaks the ability to scan information.
  • Trust: Appears intentional as it’s a well established company.
CBT Distortions
  • Jumping to Conclusions e.g. Did I do something wrong?
  • Personalization e.g. Why can’t I filter this information out?
Circ's Principles
  • Transparency: Reduce anxiety by removing uncertainty and explaining algorithm updates.
Mental Health


Pre-AI Heuristics

Dark Patterns


  • Continuation: The content is mixed with ads which breaks readability.
Graphic Design
  • Low Contrast: Text color used is inaccessible. Gray is used as it’s the only color that doesn’t have saturation.
  • Color and Space: The text is made a low priority as it’s small or positioned at the bottom.
Don Norman Principles
  • Visibility: Text is inaccessible.
Jakob Nielson Principles
  • Consistency & Standards: Causes confusion with subtle colors and placement.