Accor­ding to the so-called “default effect”, people tend to choose options that do not requi­re an active decis­i­on. In inter­face design, defaults can pursue diffe­rent goals: they can save users time, automa­ti­cal­ly adopt resour­ce-saving settings, or lead them to choose options that are profi­ta­ble for compa­nies. Dark patterns in the design of inter­faces can also ensure that users are manipu­la­ted into making decis­i­ons they do not neces­s­a­ri­ly want to make, for examp­le by highlight­ing certain options or delibera­te­ly hiding important information.

Such defaults do not only occur in inter­face design, but also in other areas such as medici­ne: in organ donati­on, in some count­ries the default option is set so that organs are not donated as long as there is no active consent; in other count­ries, organs are donated automa­ti­cal­ly as long as there is no objec­tion. This default rule can increase the number of donors many times over, which can ultim­ate­ly lead to more lives being saved.

Using the website of the Deutsche Bahn as an examp­le, I exami­ne the use of defaults and dark patterns in ticket searches on I then consider what this ticket search could look like from a profit-orien­ted and environ­men­tal­ly friend­ly perspec­ti­ve, and how a search without defaults would look like.