Designing Websites for Those Who Think Differently
If you’ve surfed the web lately, you’ve probably noticed that not all websites are created equally. There are currently about 1.8 billion websites online at this moment, and although a sizeable number of them have decent, and even good, content and layouts, we all know that there are a lot more out there that, frankly, just suck. Whether it’s because users are unable to easily find the information they’re looking for, the website contains outdated or dead content, or the site is designed so poorly that it doesn’t function well or look very good, getting online can sometimes be a frustrating and exhausting experience.
But something that we don’t often think about when creating our websites is that not all website users react in the same way to what we put on the page. Certain design elements that are easy for some to read and experience may cause overwhelm (or even an adverse reaction) in others because of neurodiversity.*
[*Neurodiversity: a term referring to variation in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood, and other mental functions in a non-pathological sense. The concept of neurodiversity was first taken up by individuals on the autism spectrum but has since been applied to other neurodevelopmental conditions, such as ADHD and dyslexia, and mental health conditions, like schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.]
I found these awesome guides from Michelle Tylicki, a London-based graphic designer and user-interface savant, that outlines various “do’s” and “don’ts” that are good to keep in mind when creating websites for those who learn and think differently. Below, I share the best website practices for users on the autism spectrum, those with anxiety, and users who are dyslexic.
Understanding the ways that different types of people read and absorb information will go a long way towards making sure your site is enjoyable for all visitors!