The design challenge

There are 4 aspects to design: outcome, system, interaction and visual.

But sometimes we can spend too much time only prioritising visual.

So much so that it neglects the other aspects resulting in difficult to use and inacessible experiences.

Let's look at some of the common ones I've come across:

Clarity trumps minimalism. Buttons and links are different. Let's try and accomodate these differences so users can understand them.

2. Remove the focus outline as it's ugly

If we know some people use the keyboard, then let's spend time designing nice focus styles. It's not about how something looks, its about how it works.

3. Large screen users use a mouse so don't worry about usable touch targets

There might be more mouse users on large screens. But there are an ever increasing amount of people who use large touch-enabled devices. Large hit areas help everyone, even mouse users.

4. Hide the buttons on mobile—users swipe

Gestures are no only hard to discover, but there's no guarantee they're supported. There's no mobile on the web. Just browsers of varying sizes and capabilities. Use buttons—they're boringly easy to use for everyone.

5. The colour contrast look nice on my Macbook which most people use

Low contrast text makes the web unreadable. The challenge is to use attractive styles that have satisfactory contrasts. Make the unclear clear, and the clear even clearer.

6. Form labels are unnecessary clutter

Every form field needs a label for several reasons. Make space for them early on in the design process.

7. Most people have fast connections—loading 10 high resolution images is fine

People on (temporarily) slower connections will leave. Why make a service that people won't wait to load? Trim the fat for everyone and design for performance.

8. Just fix it with Javascript

Firstly, not everyone has JavaScript. And even people who do have it enabled might not get it for a number of reasons. Use progressive enhancement.

9. Disable zoom on mobile

Many people have poor vision. Even people who have good vision zoom in sometimes. Don't disable it.

10. Make the words shorter so they don't wrap

Users come for content, not for how many lines there are. Design for content—not the other way around.

11. Website X does it—so it's fine

Most websites employ techniques that are inaccessible, slow and unreliable. Let's avoid complexity, embrace simplicity and make things that work well for everyone.


Many people focus too hard on the visual aspect of design at the cost of usability.

The challenge is to make something work well and look good.

If you must sacrifice something—make it the visual side. Users don't care about that as much as you do.

Legislate for slow connections, small screens, big screens, old browsers and new browsers.

Design for everyone. That's the job.