I’ve spent most of my life ignoring my untreated ADHD. Instead, I’ve devised personal hacks to work around it, such as:
- Excessive caffeine consumption
- Picking classes which highlight my skills
- Gravitating towards a career that is compatible with my work habits
My girlfriend was diagnosed with Autism earlier this year. I started learning more about Autism and the neurodiversity movement. That helped me explore my own neurodivergence; I thought more about how my ADHD effects me.
I have a lot of trouble reading (rather unfortunately — it’s one of my favorite hobbies). I lose focus easily. I lose my place. I find myself rereading the same sentences over and over again. I’ll get down to the end of a paragraph and realize I didn’t absorb anything. Usually I can push my way through, but reading on the web is full of distractions that break my attention. Paying attention to my symptoms helped me identify web patterns which inhibit my ability to process information.
Here are two patterns I find particularly difficult:
You know the kind: sticky headers that collapse upwards when you pause a page, or scroll down and read. But the second you start moving upward, they leap back into place. Designed to increase focus, this pattern instead jolts me out of whatever I’m reading. It often covers the content I scrolled back up to re-read. I find this particularly difficult to handle on Medium, especially on my phone or tablet. If you’re logged out, there are currently two bars that appears when you scroll upwards.
While reading, I often find myself having to go back and re-read a previous sentence to absorb the message. For me, collapsible headers reduce my focus, not enhance it.
Animation is distracting. Please use it with intention.
If there is something animating on the page, that is all I can focus on. I can’t keep my eyes from moving along with it. Sometimes an animation or gif is so distracting I have to hide it with my hand.
I can deal with animation when it’s an integral part of the article itself — for example, if I’m reading a post on animation techniques — but when animation is decorative or superfluous, it hinders my ability to read. (Worst of all are animated ads stuck in the middle of articles.)
If your site uses these two patterns, ask yourself: does it improve the user experience? Or is my content harder to engage with now?
Just food for thought.