Research and analysis

Pawel: user with Asperger's

Published 25 October 2017

Websites can be so distracting. It takes me ages to do anything sometimes, as I feel like I have to read every word and click on every link.

Pawel is 24 and lives with his mum and dad in Birmingham. He has been looking for a job as a pharmacologist since finished his chemistry degree.

He has Asperger’s, a condition on the autism spectrum that affects how he sees the world and interacts with people. He was also recently diagnosed with anxiety.

He’s recently been looking at the National Autistic Society’s resources on employment. He’ll approach them for more support when he feels a bit more ready.

Devices and technology

Pawel is good with technology and can usually figure out how things work himself. He prefers to use apps because they’re simpler and less cluttered than websites.

His parents recently bought him a laptop for his birthday, which is great for playing games and looking for jobs.

He struggles with face to face communication, but likes chatting to people in gaming communities online. He gave up social media as all the comments were making him anxious.

Goals and wishes

Pawel wishes he could find what he needs on websites more easily - sometimes there’s so much to read through.

He wants to be able to talk to people using web chat instead of the phone so he has time to think about what he wants to say.


Too many distractions

Pawel gets easily distracted and wants to read everything and click every link. He wishes there wasn’t as much text or links.

Pawel gets distracted by other things as well - he finds moving content like banners or video distracting, and gets stressed out by bright colours.

Services not designed for his needs

Pawel thinks websites often assume you know more than you do.

He doesn’t like using the phone, but a lot of companies don’t let you contact them by email or live chat (or they make their details hard to find).

Making things work for Pawel

What to do Further reading
Avoid bright colours or garish combinations. Colour in the GOV.UK Design System.
Allow save and return on forms and ensure ‘time outs’ on forms are reasonable. Timeouts, guidance by 18F (the US government’s digital agency).
Include people with autism in user research. User research for government services: an introduction, guidance on GOV.UK.
Write in plain English and break up content with things like headings and lists. Use the ‘inverted pyramid’ approach with the most important information at the top. Structuring your content, guidance on GOV.UK.
Provide captions for video content. Autistic spectrum, captions and audio description, article by Mindful Research.

More reading

‘Designing for users on the autistic spectrum’ is one of a set of posters designed by the Home Office. You can read about and download them from this blogpost.

Statistics about autism

About 700,000 people in the UK are on the autistic spectrum.

Only 16% of people with autism in the UK are in full time paid employment.

40% of people with autism have an anxiety disorder - it’s 15% in the general population.