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Design principles and neurodiversity - Are we really inclusive?

During my boot camp class today, we discussed "Data Visualisation", delving into the principles of design and perception. One of the principles was the "Gestalt principle*".

Thinking brain

After an example that was presented, I expanded on the notion that, in my view, these principles appear to be somewhat outdated, especially when considering the perspectives and needs of neurodivergent audiences, not wholly capturing the diverse ways in which different minds perceive and process visual information.

Neurodiversity is a relatively recent topic that has gained significant attention and open discourse only in recent years. Yet, traditional paradigms in marketing and design seem slow in adapting or evolving to include this newfound understanding.

This delay is somewhat understandable, given that research on neurodiversity is ongoing and the nuances are continuously emerging.

This gives us more reason to study and test to learn more about this topic in our field of work.

Furthermore, it's essential to note that the relevance of neurodivergent inclusivity isn't limited just to product design—it's equally important in marketing strategies.

triangles design

*Gestalt Principle

The Gestalt principles are a set of principles in psychology that describe how humans perceive visual stimuli. They were first formulated in the early 20th century by German psychologists Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, and Wolfgang Köhler.

The Gestalt principles have been widely used in data visualisation to create more effective and informative charts and graphs.

Neurodiversity and Design

Neurodiversity is a term used to describe the natural variation in the human brain. It includes a wide range of conditions, such as autism, dyslexia, and ADHD. Neurodivergent people may perceive and process information differently than neurotypical people.

Designers need to be aware of the needs of neurodivergent users when creating products, services, and marketing materials.

By using:

  • Simple and clear designs. Avoid complex designs with too many elements, to avoid overwhelm.

  • High-contrast colors. This will make it easier for people with visual impairments to see the design.

  • Clear and concise language. Avoid using jargon or technical terms.


  • Providing multiple formats. Consider providing alternative formats for designs, such as text descriptions or audio recordings.

  • Involving neurodivergent people in the design process. Get feedback from neurodivergent people on your designs to make sure they are accessible and inclusive.

In terms of marketing and product design:


  • Create marketing materials that use simple and clear language.

  • Avoid using flashing lights or animations, as this can be triggering for people with epilepsy or other sensory sensitivities.

  • Provide transcripts for videos and audio recordings.

  • Offer multiple ways to contact your company, such as email, phone, and social media.

Product Design

  • Design products with simple and clear controls.

  • Use high-contrast colours and fonts.

  • Provide adjustable settings for things like brightness, volume, and text size.

  • Offer multiple ways to interact with the product, such as using touch, voice, or gestures.

  • Provide clear and concise error messages.

I've been independently exploring this topic for some time now and will continue to research this topic.

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