This is a very common pattern with SAAS: instead of giving you a price, they ask you to request a trial or demo. Sometimes you will find the price hidden somewhere on the website, but most of the time there is no price at all.

An example of this can be found at https://www.usertesting.com/ (see image below)

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I know why this is done, I know the benefits to the companies and I know it is a dark pattern. What I do not know is the name for this pattern. I did a Google search and found many pages with examples, but no naming convention.

Does it have a specific name?

2 Answers 2


There are several UX /psychological concepts at play here which is probably why the pattern doesn't have a proper name.

The first part is called 'Gifting' - "Here's a FREE 7 day/2 week/3 month trial". This triggers the user's natural instinct to reciprocate somehow. This reciprocation could be just accepting the offer or simply holding the vendor in slightly higher regard than their competitors who don't offer anything for free.

Then comes 'Loss Aversion'. this is where the user has spent some time registering for and setting up an account that they feel more inclined to complete the purchase than to regard that effort as 'wasted' or 'lost'. Shopping sites use this all the time!

Once the trial is over we hit a whole bunch of concepts: 'Commitment & Consistency', 'Mere Exposure Effect', and 'Ownership Bias' as well as the 'Loss Aversion' from earlier. Our users have already committed to using the product and have the urge to remain consistent with their prior choice. They are already familiar with the way the product works and feel that they already part own it so why would they consider anything else?

UI devices that use one or two psychological principles to work tend to be named after or close to the principles they use. This one is quite complex and goes beyond a single page - there's a whole series of things going on within the UI and externally that make this pattern work.

You could just call it a 'trial period pattern/mechanic'.

Within your organisation, you can call it whatever you like as long as everyone involved knows exactly what you're talking about.

EDIT: One other thing to note.

The actual UI pattern here is just a simple 'Call To Action' or 'CTA' that simply asks the user to press a button - but the mechanic that is behind it changes the 'Action' that the user is being asked to take.


If I was applying the types of dark patterns (now called deceptive designs) listed on the deceptive design website, then it would probably somewhere between:

Bait and switch You set out to do one thing, but a different, undesirable thing happens instead.


Friend spam The product asks for your email or social media permissions under the pretence it will be used for a desirable outcome (e.g. finding friends), but then spams all your contacts in a message that claims to be from you.

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