#IXD303 – Designing for Users with Anxiety or Panic Disorders

I’ve found an extremely helpful and interesting article which I will be reviewing today in this blog about designing for users with anxiety or panic disorders. This will be extremely helpful to implement my design problem and provide the best experience possible for my users.

In 2013, 12% of the UK population had reported cases of anxiety disorders. One of the main symptoms of anxiety is excessive worrying and fear that impacts the day-to-day life of individuals and can make even the simplest of tasks a real struggle. It is important when designing for users with anxiety disorders how to optimise their experience. Lewis Wake’s article talks about the best tips from the WCAG standards on how to achieve this.

1.Giving users enough time to complete an action

As anxiety is comprised of excessive feelings of fear and apprehension, it is important as a designer to understand that tasks may take individuals with anxiety longer than the average person to complete. It is advised not to rush users or include tasks with time limits or countdowns that put them under pressure or heighten their anxiety. This will not help them to adhere to the service. and as Wake points out, may instead act as an exit point.

2. Explain what will happen after completing a service

Additionally, it’s important to fully inform users with anxiety or panic disorders about any outcomes or next steps. Without including this information this may increase the user’s anxiety.

3. Make important information clear

People with anxiety or panic disorders tend to worry excessively, particularly about tiny details, and as Wake discusses, they tend to become more anxious when services affect them personally as they worry about future consequences. The importance of clear, uncomplicated information cannot be overstated. Additionally, Wake suggests providing users with enough information so that users are fully aware of what is involved and can continue with confidence.

4. Give users the support they need to complete a serviceĀ 

The article highlights how anxious users are more likely to acquire assistance and so it is essential that support is made available and is easy to access. Wake talks about this stating, that to achieve this, it is ideal to provide users with access to support from another human, and that this should be clearly indicated across any interface. The time it will take to get this support should also be provided e.g. telling users when they can expect a response, as this may help to reduce their anxiety.

5. Let User’s check their answers before they submit them

If users do not have the opportunity to review or amend their answers before submitting. It runs the risk of increasing their anxiety levels further. Wake suggests reassuring users by allowing them time to review answers and submit them when they feel ready. Not only can this reduce the chances of worrying and excessive time questioning the answer they submitted, but also lessens the chances of mistakes in answers by providing more accurate information overall.

6. Keep navigation consistent

The WCAG standards have a success criterion of ‘consistent navigation’ -which requires websites to have consistent presentation and layout for users who interact repeatedly with content and who need access to specific information more than once.


If an interface is irregular or hard to navigate, those with anxiety disorders may feel pressured to begin to doubt themselves in remembering how to find information. As Wake mentions, this may make individuals view themselves critically, rather than the fact the design is poor. So I must ensure information and layout are consistent and can provide users with a level of comfortability and one less thing they have to worry about.




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