Who is “Anyone”? When we design an application, we want it to be so intuitive that anyone could use it. But who do we mean when we say “anyone?”
While a good design is usable by people of all ages and technical adeptness, a truly universal design works for users with varying physical abilities. To achieve this, designers and developers must take into consideration conditions like macular degeneration (ocular disorders), Parkinson’s disease (movement disorders), and epilepsy (neurological disorders).
As with so many things in UX, the idea of “taking people’s needs into consideration” is easier said than done. While many designers use personas (descriptions of specific types of users based on demographic data) to understand user needs in the design process, they rarely explore users with different abilities.
This is where the field of universal design comes in. Universal design reminds us that age and abilities (physical and mental) impact our experiences. Whether people give voice commands to their devices, use desktop video magnifiers, or employ a different sort of adaptive technology, designers must consider their needs and how we can improve their experiences.