Barrier-free design with courage.
Luisa Claudia Müller and Julia Freymark
November 4, 2021
As a UI designer, Luisa Müller conceptualises and designs complete digital projects. She wants to reach as many people as possible through her design while also pushing the limits of her creativity. She explains how she manages to accomplish this here.
Julia: Barrier-free design makes places, rooms or means of communication freely accessible to everyone, right?
Luisa: Exactly, freedom from barriers is something we encounter in both our analogue and digital worlds. As a UI designer, I want everyone to be able to make full use of web content and mobile applications. Regardless of whether they are living with a disability or are being affected at that point in time, such as by strong screen glare or noise.
Julia: Aesthetics, cutting-edge design and freedom from barriers do not come hand-in-hand. How do you balance them?
Luisa: As accessibility is becoming increasingly relevant, design must inevitably be done with the future in mind. In terms of aesthetics, many people follow traditional design or current trends. However, these change all the time. That’s why I follow my own design principles and sometimes deliberately avoid having to balance aesthetics and freedom from barriers. I do this because I trust myself to design something that might not be aesthetic or trendy in that moment, but could be unexpectedly new, special and, most importantly, barrier-free. At the end of the day, the goal is still to create a user experience that is both intuitive and positive.
Julia: What do you focus on when you design?
Luisa: Firstly we have the technical aspects such as scalability, keyboard usability, responsiveness, language input or the narration tool. Then we approach the design by asking questions such as: Is the font large enough? Is there enough contrast between the foreground and background colours? We pay attention to clear hierarchies, white space, snackable content and recurring patterns. In spite of all the rules, however, we do not create a design template. We always have the flexibility we need to move around freely and get creative with our designs. That makes the whole thing so exciting.
Julia: What are the advantages of barrier-free design?
Luisa: There are many, such as increasing the size of the target group, being easier to find in search engines, shorter loading times due to leaner source code and having a better image thanks to digital inclusiveness. With this in mind, it’s important to me that my designs are clear and understandable. Freedom from barriers cannot be something that is ‘nice to have’ – it must be a fundamental part of the design.
Barrier-free design in a nutshell. Three questions for Luisa Claudia Müller in this video.
Luisa Claudia Müller