Go Hack Yourself

Jun 14 2020

Welcome to the mN Go Hack Yourself space! We’ve created this nook in the studio to allow us to explore different ways of testing our own prototypes and designs or other existing live projects/websites, and we wanted to give you a peek behind the scenes. It’s an unscientific, however eye opening, method that we hope will uncover aspects of our work that can be tweaked in order to be more accessible to a more representative audience. By hacking ourselves and our designs iteratively we might uncover some potentially tricky and user-unfriendly aspects within our work that can be addressed during the design phase.

mN's Go Hack Yourself accessibility testing space

“When we design and consider disability, it is to do with both the variety of humans we have in society, and understanding how the design of products, services and environments can disable us.”

Molly Ford-Williams, UX Designer at mN

Everyone experiences different accessibility challenges day to day and this may sometimes go completely unnoticed. Our ability to access is often affected by our current environmental circumstance or due to sickness, injury, or the natural ageing process.

Our abilities change both short and long term and by taking the focus away from the model of a standard issue person with 20/20 vision, perfect hearing, sat comfortably with absolutely no distraction, we hope to inclusively test and design things that better fit into the way we all live day to day.

We decided to try and incorporate some of this consideration into our own design methodology, testing whilst simulating various vision, motor, cognitive, and audio impairments users will find themselves experiencing temporarily or otherwise as they use our designs.

We’ve introduced a 4,3,2,1 checklist approach to start the ball rolling. It comprises 4 sections: Vision, Motor, Cognitive and Audio. The aim is to tick off at least 4 Vision hacking tasks, 3 Motor, 2 Cognitive, and 1 Audio.

Go Hack Yourself checklists

Why, you might be wondering? The 4,3,2,1 isn’t representative of a priority order of these impairment areas, it simply represents how feasible it is for us to replicate these situations in the studio effectively.

The team’s first intro to the space was during one of our weekly show and tell sessions. We hacked ourselves using some interfaces we’re currently designing and others we’re familiar with using (not naming any names!), and looking at the designs through this new perspective started some interesting conversations:

  • It was difficult to focus on larger chunks of text and we discussed how iconography as well as shorter sentences could help to ease cognitive load.
  • Low colour contrast made some copy too difficult to read, something we already always consider here at mN.
  • Complex navigation with bulky copy was nearly impossible to understand whilst being distracted.
  • Web pages that required a large amount of scrolling became disorientating and “migraine enduring” whilst wearing certain eye condition simulation glasses.
  • Button placement on the screens made it near impossible to reach when we tested one handed and using the restrictive gloves.

This empathic method allows us to step away from our desks and into various user perspectives as best we can. From a quick introduction we already gained some really interesting website insights from interfaces we’ve all seen many times before and we look forward to experimenting with how we interact with design further. It may develop our design process, or it might just be an exercise to remind ourselves of the responsibilities we have as designers.

Molly, UX Designer