Unless you’re a fan of dark or shady patterns, you probably struggle occasionally with integrity in your design practice: balancing stakeholder wishes against user needs, for example, or guiding users to hero paths while also granting them freedom to explore.

Recently, I worked on redesigning a mobile timebanking app, which helps neighbors share services and build supportive relationships. The public-good aspect of the project was appealing; the app’s values of community, trust, and support kept us focused on meeting users’ needs and being honest in our design. So of course we wanted to show users only information that was literally, concretely true. But what if a slight deviation from the truth would make users happier and more efficient in achieving their goals? What if fudging an interface helped reassure and speed the user along her way?