Neumorphism and Accessibility

Could neumorphism cause issues for accessibility?

Neumorphism is the new trend in User interface design, but what impact might this have on accessibility? Will websites that adopt this new style opt for good looks over legibility?

What is Neumorphism?

You’ve heard of Skeuomorphism, where a user interface is designed to mimic it’s real-world counterpart. This was pretty much binned, replaced by the flat design aesthetic. Well now we have Neumorphism, a sort of minimal, plastic-esq type look and feel that looks like this (Neumorphic Bank Redesign by HYPE4):

Neumorphic Bank Redesign

It’s not to everyones taste; the Dribble community have gone mad for it, others hate it. I’m not going to go into that, but instead take a look at how this might affect accessibility.

How does neumorphism present an issue for accessibility?

The neumorphism style is based around edges or borders blending into backgrounds. This gives that minimal plastic look and feel. For some people though, older folk and those with poor eyesight, these edges are just not visible.

When it comes to buttons this can become a real issue. It’s not always clear whether a button has been pressed, the indented effect could look either way. For older users especially this is likely to cause confusion.

So neumorphism is bad for accessibility?

Well, not necessarily. There are a number of solutions that could be employed to help with accessibility and keep the neumorphism look and feel. Adding borders or colour changes could help, and adding aria-labels for people using screen readers. It’s all about designing with accessibility in mind, as we should anyway. When designing for older users especially, extra care should be given to make sure that whatever you are designing is clear, legible and easy to use.

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