Neumorphism (Soft UI) and Accessibility

Sahil Bishnoi
3 min readFeb 22, 2020

Neumorphism is one of the top UI design trend for 2020. Neumorphism is a play on words based on New + Skeuomorphism. It is a style that uses blur, angle, and intensity of an object’s shadow to highlight the object. It’s a design that looks realistic, futuristic, modern, appealing and extremely breathtaking due to its soft shadow and overall appearance.

But let’s be honest, it’s not the most practical design for actual use. Try building and releasing a product that has used Neumorphism as its main style, and you’re most likely going to frustrate everyone — including your developers, users, and accessibility users.

Let’s dig in as to why Neumorphism and Accessibility can’t get along.

Visual: Neumorphism is hard on vision loss, blindness and color blindness

When you design a button with an important CTA, you often consider and take note on the contrast ratio to make it stand out, as well as easily readable on the page. However, with Neumorphism, there’s no such thing as contrast ratio, because the button IS the same material as the background. The only thing that separates them is the angles and a variety of soft shadows.

Neumorphism makes user think

Normally, objects with shadow are often highlighted more as compared to those without. But with Neumorphism, most of the elements float and stand out, competing with one another on a single screen. It’s much harder to perceive the exact hierarchy design, which then leads to the screen lacking a proper focal point and thus, creating confusion in eye tracking. Missing hierarchy on the screen has a significant effect on the user’s decision-making process, as well as their thought process. Therefore, with multiple actionable items but missing the design hierarchy and focal point, it creates a barrier that hinders understanding for users to comprehend what’s happening on that screen which may result in confusion and poor judgment. A good UI/UX doesn’t require users to think.

Take Away

The Neumorphism trend which started at Dribbble, should end at Dribbbel; because while it’s undoubtedly an eye-candy trend, it’s not practical in the real world. Designers have the freedom to practice and explore whichever trend or style they are inclined to…I’m simply here to show and explain why Neumorphism and Accessibility can’t go hand-in-hand. I’m not here to stop you from practicing your design skill.