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UXin’ | Cognitive UX Design Principles from a Neurodivergent Perspective



As the world becomes increasingly digital, user experience (UX) design plays a crucial role in shaping the interactions we have with technology.

However, traditional UX design principles often overlook the unique needs and perspectives of neurodivergent individuals. In this blog post, we will explore cognitive UX design principles from a neurodivergent perspective, highlighting the importance of inclusivity and accessibility in UX design.

Principle 1: Clear Information Architecture


Neurodivergent individuals often rely on visual cues and patterns to navigate information. A clear information architecture is essential to help them quickly identify the most relevant information and avoid confusion.


This can be achieved by:


- Using Consistent Navigation: Ensure that navigation elements are consistent throughout the application to reduce cognitive load.


- Providing Clear Labels: Use descriptive and concise labels for buttons, forms, and other interactive elements to reduce ambiguity.


- Organizing Content Logically: Organize content in a logical and consistent manner to help users quickly locate the information they need.


Principle 2: Simple and Consistent Design


Neurodivergent individuals often struggle with complex or inconsistent designs. Simple and consistent design elements can help reduce cognitive load and improve usability.


This can be achieved by:


- Using Simple Fonts and Colors: Use simple fonts and colors to reduce visual overload and improve readability.


- Consistent Button Styles: Ensure that buttons have consistent styles and layouts to reduce confusion.


- Simple and Consistent Layouts: Use simple and consistent layouts to help users quickly locate the information they need.


Principle 3: Error Prevention and Recovery


Neurodivergent individuals often struggle with errors and mistakes. Designing for error prevention and recovery can help reduce frustration and improve usability.


This can be achieved by:


- Preventing Errors: Design the application to prevent errors from occurring in the first place, such as by providing clear instructions and warnings.


- Providing Clear Error Messages: Provide clear and concise error messages that help users understand what went wrong and how to fix it.


- Undo and Redo Functions: Provide undo and redo functions to allow users to easily correct mistakes.


Principle 4: Flexibility and Customization


Neurodivergent individuals often have unique preferences and needs. Providing flexibility and customization options can help improve usability and accessibility.


This can be achieved by:


- Providing Customizable Settings: Provide users with the ability to customize settings such as font sizes, colors, and layouts to suit their needs.


- Flexible Navigation: Provide flexible navigation options such as keyboard-only navigation or customizable shortcuts.


- Adaptive Design: Use adaptive design principles to adjust the application's layout and content based on the user's needs and preferences.


Principle 5: Feedback and Transparency


Neurodivergent individuals often rely on feedback and transparency to understand how the application is functioning. Providing clear and timely feedback can help improve usability and accessibility.


This can be achieved by:


- Providing Clear Feedback: Provide clear and concise feedback to users about the application's status and any errors that may occur.


- Transparency in Design: Be transparent about the design decisions and the reasoning behind them to help users understand the application's functionality.


- User Testing: Conduct user testing with neurodivergent individuals to gather feedback and improve the application's usability and accessibility.


Cognitive UX design principles from a neurodivergent perspective are essential for creating inclusive and accessible applications. By incorporating these principles into your design process, you can improve the usability and accessibility of your application for neurodivergent users. Remember to prioritize clear information architecture, simple and consistent design, error prevention and recovery, flexibility and customization, and feedback and transparency to create a more inclusive and accessible user experience.

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Wanna learn more? dig in 🥗


NN Group. (n.d.). Usability Heuristics. <https://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-heuristics/>

Nielsen, J. (n.d.). 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design <https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ten-usability-heuristics/>

Nielsen, J. (n.d.). Cognitive UX Design Principles from a Neurodivergent Perspective. <https://www.nngroup.com/articles/cognitive-ux-design-principles-from-a-neurodivergent-perspective/>

Nielsen, J. (n.d.). Designing for Neurodiversity. <https://www.nngroup.com/articles/designing-for-neurodiversity/>


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