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Autofill Dark Pattern: What You Need to Know

Website Design

Nobody likes filling out web forms, especially on mobile devices. They can take time and are sometimes frustrating to complete. Some of them contain multi-page steps and validation issues, which makes the entire process of filling out even longer.  

This often leads to high abandonment rates and frustration for users.  

This is where autofill comes in.

What’s great about autofill is that it speeds up the form completion process and saves users the effort of having to type in the same information again and again.  

If you’re trying to get more people to sign up for your newsletter or urge prospects to buy on impulse, having an optimized West Palm Beach web design and an autofill feature can help increase your conversions and sales.  

In a perfect world, autofill should save users time and effort in a variety of situations, and in most cases, this is exactly how it works. Unfortunately, scammers and people with bad intentions use it to trick users into giving them more information.  

When used for the wrong intentions, this autofill feature becomes a “dark pattern”.  

Autofill dark pattern is autofill on steroids, and we don’t mean this in a good way. This UX pattern deceives users into doing things they don't have any intention of doing.  

As a responsible business owner, you want to make sure that your customers' personal information is protected and that you're only taking the information they're willing to give.  

In this article, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about the autofill dark pattern, from what it is to how you can make changes to what the autofill function can save.  

You can use this information to educate your customers to be vigilant and ensure they’re only going to give data they’re willing to share, especially now that phishing emails and SMS messages are rampant.  

Without any more delays, let’s get started!

What Is Autofill and How Does It Work?

Autofill is a common feature most modern web browsers have. It stores information a user has been repeatedly asked to provide online, such as name, passwords, credit cards, and the like, and automatically fills form fields using this data whenever a website asks for them.  

Autofill can be advantageous whenever you have to fill out an address for online shopping, registering for a membership, and when you want to save non-sensitive log-in information.  

This makes it incredibly convenient to log in to websites, access your accounts, and make payments online, especially if you're doing all these through a smartphone or tablet.  

Autocomplete and Autofill: Are They the Same?

man filling online registration form on a West Palm Beach Web Design

You may have heard of the term “autocomplete” and interchange using it with the term “autofill”, but they’re not the same. Here’s how they differ:  

  • Autofill: A browser feature that enables users to save their information on the browser and use it on web forms.  
  • Autocomplete: An HTML attribute that gives guidelines or provides suggestions to the browser on how to autofill fields in a web form. The autocomplete feature takes a user's initial input and then predicts the rest.  

Is It Safe to Use Autofill?

Autofill is absolutely safe and a great timesaving tool that provides convenience in a variety of situations, and most cases, this is exactly how it works. Unfortunately, some people use the autofill dark pattern West Palm Beach web design to trick users into giving more information than what they’re willing to share.  

See, Chrome, Safari, and Opera’s autofill function tends to automatically fill out all the boxes on a webpage, regardless of whether a user can see those boxes or not.  

The problem with this is that scammers can hide invisible boxes on their web pages so they can get more information than what people are willing to share.  

So, you might think that you’re just submitting your email, but there could be boxes asking for your personal information you’re not aware of and autofill will fill them out.  

The best ways to solve this are to turn off your browser’s autofill, only use autofill on websites you trust, or make changes to what autofill can save.

What Are the Risks of Using Autofill?

Generally speaking, autofill is a wonderful feature that saves users time and effort from filling out web forms, especially on mobile devices. Butc there are times when autofill can be a bit of a headache.  

Here are some of those instances:

  • Get in the way of what you’re trying to do. Sometimes, autofill pops up when you don’t need them. When you’re trying to fill out a form and you need to provide a completely different shipping address, credit card number, or other information, autofill can get in the way and slow you down from completing the form.  
  • Autofill automatically fills out non-visible fields. You end up giving more information than you intend to share.
  • Autocompleted information can be viewed through JavaScript even before it gets submitted. This means the developer on the other end can read your auto-filled information without you knowing, and whether you submit it or not.  

How to Manage Your Autofill Information with Chrome  

girls managing their autofill information before doing some online shopping

The quickest method for managing your information and clearing saved autofill entries is to delete all autofill entries directly through Chrome settings in your toolbar. Here’s how to do it:

  • Go to your Chrome browser.
  • Click on the three-dot symbol located below the close option on the top right corner of your browser.
  • Hover your cursor over the More tools option until you see the dropdown appear.
  • Click on Clear browsing data from the dropdown. You can also use this keyboard shortcut to skip steps two and three. All you have to do is press Control + Shift+ Delete from within your browser and it will load your Chrome settings in a new tab.  
  • Go to the Advanced tab on the new window. This will show you a more itemized list that includes a detailed autofill removal option.  
  • Click the box next to the Autofill form data. Below it, you will see a summary of what's going to be deleted. You can adjust selections in case there are other things you don't want to delete.
  • Click on the clear data button located in the lower right corner.  

Once you’ve done this, expect your Chrome autofill settings to be cleared right away.  

How to Turn Off Autofill Altogether?

If you want to turn off your autofill altogether, you have that option on your Chrome Settings menu as well. Below are the different ways you can turn off autofill for each category:

  • Passwords:  To avoid automatically filling out your passwords, look for "Offer to save passwords" and turn the toggle to the off position. Then, go to "Auto sign-in" to turn off the cache of your saved login information.  If you want to go over saved entries one by one, there is an index of saved passwords just below your saved password and sign-in options.  
  • Payment procedures: If you don’t want your browser to remember your payment information, you can choose to turn off the autofill feature for this category by going to the “Save and fill payment methods” and turn the toggle off. Below it is a link to your Google account’s stored payment information. This is where you will find an index of your different payment methods and you can manage your account from here.  
  • Physical and Digital Contact Information: To prevent your browser from remembering your address, billing addresses, shipping locations, email, and the like, you can choose to turn off autofill for this too. Simply go to “Save and fill addresses” and turn the toggle off. You  can find all your address information saved by your browser just below it.  

Other Data Settings to Check

screenshot of delete browsing history

Aside from the categories we mentioned above, you want to include the following categories of saved information:

  • Browsing history: Besides a basic record of websites you’ve visited, it also contains a rundown of your saved autocomplete entries like familiar URLs in your Chrome search bar. If this predictive text feature is bothering you, you can delete your browsing history through the Clear browsing data procedure.  
  • Cookies: Cookies track and save information on each of your sessions on every site you visit. If you’re clearing your cookies, you’ll be logged out of most of the websites you frequently visit. Otherwise, just uncheck the corresponding box.  
  • Saved images and files: Your browser archives images and site resource to quickly load your favorite websites. Deleting them will save you a huge amount of space. However, the next time you visit your favorite sites, expect to experience a little slowdown.  

Looking for a Safe and Secure West Palm Beach Web Design?

As a business owner, your number one priority is to build a safe and secure West Palm Beach web design where your visitors feel confident sharing their data. Having strong web security will keep hackers and cyber thieves from accessing your customers' data.  

If you need professional help in creating a bespoke website design for your business, we’re here for you! Digital Resource has an award-winning team of web designers who will work with you to create a secure website that will get you more leads and sales.

Contact us today to get started!  

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