Ryanair’s new website – still hiding some mean tricks with Dark Patterns

ryanair new website

For anyone who is familiar with Ryanair knows the other words that are mentioned in the same sentence – poor customer service, deceptive ad ons and over the top charges. The website was a garish yellow and blue colour scheme complete with a unwieldy user interface and appalling user experience.

Out with the old. In with the new.

ryanair old website


ryanair new website


Back in November 2013, Ryanair promised an overhaul of its digital and mobile assets and released a fresh looking website which seemed long overdue. The new website felt modern and a far cry from its former self.

However, a fresh lick of paint is all this new website has. A recent visit to the site proved just that (Side note : Why was I on the Ryan air website? I’ll explain later). Sure, gone are the annoying “automatically selected for you” add ons and you need to manually select it but even so, under its bonnet, the website is hiding some mean tricks.


The first part on the details page is the travel insurance part. I already had travel insurance cover and didn’t need one. It tells you under the dropdown “Already insured? Select “Don’t insure me” in the dropdown box.

Ok. That seems simple enough until that is …


Where is this “Don’t insure me”?


Oh! There it is. Tucked conveniently between Denmark and Finland. Trust me, I had to do three takes to find it myself and I am sure that this wasn’t an oversight by Ryanair’s designers to put that where it is. Unsuspecting visitors may end up selecting the insurance to avoid the hassle of having to find this “dont insure me” option.

Update – This happened http://d.pr/i/WCv0 (They have changed it to make it user friendly). #success

Confusing wording

This trick is used on a lot of websites and really leaves a bad taste in your mouth as its so easy to slip up on this.The screenshot below is from their contact box on the way to completing the purchase. Pay close attention to the checkbox.ryanair-website-ux

If you only skimmed the text, then you would assume that if you left the box unticked, you would receive the information about your booking only unless your subscribed. However, the next two sentences are contradictory stating that you are essentially signing up to their 3rd party marketing list and ticking this box you are opting out of it.

I wonder how many people left the box unticked and unwittingly ended up on Ryanair’s marketing list.

UX Dark Patterns

These methods of confusing visitors and customers and influencing them to complete tasks they wouldn’t otherwise have  is known as Dark Patterns. A carefully crafted user interface with the aim of tricking the visitor into doing things such as buying unnecessary insurance or signing up to the marketing list. Dark patterns take into account human psychology and use it against the visitor.

They rely on the visitor being too lazy to notice or too busy to do anything about it once they realise about it.

User experience design is ultimately all about helping customers and making their life easy on the website/app. Using these dark patterns, you may be able to increase the conversions of your goals in the short term but annoying customers means that in the long run, you will be considered in the same league as Ryanair..and who would want that?

Back to why I was on the Ryanair website in the first place. I was searching for a direct flight at a convenient time to a city I was travelling to for a conference. All other flights either had stopovers or would take ages to get there. Unfortunately, Ryanair seemed to have the flights I needed. So it wasn’t the cost that persuaded me rather the convenience of the flight times. God help me.


  • Nice post! It is funny that Ryanair has that “Don’t Insure Me” in the list of countries 🙂 Sneaky sneaky!

  • Dominic Hurst

    Great post Manuel. Become use to dirty tricks by Ryanair. Corporate goals more important than customer satisfaction or even UX!

    • Manuel da Costa

      Definitely. With Ryanair, people have come to expect tricks like this. Seeing as this was a completely new redesign with a more modern feel, they would have atleast done away with the tricks. I suppose, some people will fall for it and thats how they make their money.

  • hugronaphor

    I was so mad that I can’t find “Don’t Insure Me”!
    Even had a look in the source code, there is “Don’t Insure Me” and still did not recognize it ))
    Thank you.

  • Gargi Ghosh

    I´m banging my head after visiting the site… Oh God I was clicking the debit card option for payment instead they are taking credit card option at the end… Worst site I ever visited

  • Joe Doveton

    Manuel, great stuff as ever. I use the old Ryanair site in my training on Dark Patterns, surprised to see them still using it!

  • Laila Daoudi

    Love you, thank you so much!

  • ceciliacar

    Thank you so much, Manuel. I am not alone.

  • Yep! I was searching for flights last night that kept jumping from €19 on one screen to €59 on the next. Up to something.