Midwest UX 2014 Recap: When 'Simple' Is 'Hard'

Sketchnotes from talk

A talk that was highlighted in my program from the time that it was first posted, this presentation by Greg Tarnoff (@gregtarnoff) explored a side of user experience that often gets overlooked. It is routine to rely on design patterns, conventions, and other things to create rich interactive experiences. From animating modal windows to embedded audio and video to reacting to hover states the web provides opportunities for amazing flashy designs.

However there is a dark side. What happens when the things that we take for granted are no longer easy? What happens when even descending stairs or opening a door becomes an exhausting task? Whether short term (a broken bone, stress, etc) or a lifetime condition (color blindness, arthritis, etc) suddenly the things that we once took for granted become difficult and taxing.  Given that I had just begun reading "A Web For Everyone" at the time it was very timely to hear this topic covered. Both emphasize the importance of factoring disabilities into our designs.

Many of the actionable items provided at the end of the talk were not earth shattering. Key principles such as avoiding bright colors or flashing animations, supporting navigation by keyboard, and listing all errors explicitly benefit not only those with a disability but can enable better experiences for the regular audience as well. The main takeaway for me was to "listen, listen, listen". If you've got some time to spare I highly recommend sharing this presentation with your development and design teams.

Video provided thanks to the hardworking Midwest UX team