Empathy in Web Design

I wasn’t able to make WordCamp Europe this year, but they’ve been really quick at getting all of the talks online, and so I have been watching some of them – and this one stood out.

Morten Rand-Hendriksen is an experienced presenter and it shows, in this presentation about Empathy and Acceptance in the design community. He highlights how it’s incredibly hard to empathise with anyone beyond those you actually know.


Web Designers have long spoken about accessibility, and I’m really pleased that WordPress is making strides to improve. But accessibility is about more than just blind people.

It’s about people with physical disabilities who can’t use a keyboard or a mouse. It’s about people who speak different languages. It’s about people who aren’t technically literate. It’s about many more things that most of us who speak English and have good vision, and mobility haven’t considered.

There’s a really interesting talk on TED, by a deaf designer talking about how when we design for disability, everyone benefits.

When we design for disability first, you often stumble upon solutions that are better than those when we design for the norm.

As someone who sells WordPress products it’s something I am really interested in. I am making an effort to improve in accessibility – and now empathy.

My last 2 themes (Passenger and Carmack) have both had independent accessibility reviews. I’m sure they’re not perfect, but I hope that it’s a step in the right direction. I am also working to improve theme documentation, and writing articles to improve knowledge around WordPress and running a WordPress business.

I hope that these things help (in some small way) to improve the accessibility and usage of my products. As I mentioned last week, it’s really hard to look outside the WordPress bubble and see how people who are not knowledgeable in website development see the technology that we use every day.

I’d love to hear from people who have purchased premium themes or plugins to find out what problems you have had and how the process and products could be changed to be made more inclusive.

Was it good/ useful/ a load of old rubbish? Let me know on Mastodon, or BlueSky (or Twitter X if you must).

Link to this page

Thanks for reading. I'd really appreciate it if you'd link to this page if you mention it in your newsletter or on your blog.

Related Posts

19 Jun 2008

Redesigning the WordPress admin Redesign

Ever since the first betas of WordPress 2.5 I have been making my own version of the admin panel. I like a lot of what they have done but there were some very basic things missing in the design, and...
29 Mar 2009

The future of WordPress themes

A couple of weeks ago there was quite a lot of talk within the WordPress themes community about the future of WordPress. Ian Stewart started it, and then it spread around the blogosphere… so I thought I’d offer my rather...
27 May 2013

WordPress: 10 Years Young, What Does The Future Hold?

WordPress is now 10 years old. I started using wordpress 9 years ago – which means I joined the WordPress community early on. The reason I chose WordPress is simply because of the fabled 5 minute install process – I...
03 Aug 2018

What Non-Disabled People Get Wrong About Accessibility

I have thought quite a lot about accessibility in recent years. I am definitely not an expert, and I am sure there’s a lot of areas I could improve, but I always strive to make my projects as accessible as...
08 Jul 2013

A Redesign for 2013

It’s only been a year since I last redesigned Binary Moon – I’m generally content to redesign, and then sit on things for a while, let it stew and evolve. However a lot has changed in the last year. Design...