How to design for autism

1. Imagery

  • Use visual cues such as pictures or icons to illustrate a concept and help with reading comprehension.
  • Simple graphics in colour have been found to be very effective, however, visuals should not overlay text as it can be distracting.
  • Visuals, icons and graphics should only be used to support or explain text further, or to provide information that text alone can not achieve.

2. Text

3. Layout

  • Rapidly changing information can be overwhelming for people with ASD due to overstimulation.
  • Layouts should follow a simple and clear structure and avoid any unnecessary elements of movement and animation.

4. Colour

  • Use muted colours such as brown, beige and grey.
  • People with ASD have a significantly lower preference for brighter colours such as red and yellow in comparison to people without ASD.
  • Brighter colours have a higher luminance value, which could be the reason for the lower tolerance and people with ASD often have hypersensitivity and are prone to sensory overload.

5. Metaphors

  • ASD people can be extremely proficient in understanding information as a whole.
  • However, it can be difficult for them to understand inferred meaning in language and social settings.
  • Use ‘plain’ language to make it easier for people with ASD to understand the context and the inferred meaning.
  • Iconography should always, in most cases, be used in combination with labels — except in cases such as back buttons which are commonly known.

6. Navigation

  • Reducing the number of toolbars to just one and using large, descriptive labels for buttons in combination with icons can also help.
  • Progress bars should be incorporated as well to provide a sense of structure.

7. Interaction

  • It is suggested to only use animation and transitions if they add an additional benefit and are not used for purely visual effects.
  • Horizontal scrolling can also be unpleasant for autistic users. Elements on a page which do not show the entire content and are hard to control are distracting and uncomfortable to use for people with ASD.
  • Avoid using animated banners, autoplay ads and pop-ups, as this can cause anxiety for people with ASD.




Code Computerlove are a digital product agency, making brilliant digital experiences since 1999.

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Code Computerlove

Code Computerlove

Code Computerlove are a digital product agency, making brilliant digital experiences since 1999.

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