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Barrier Design in UX

In UX design, sometimes we need to facilitate a process (like the signin or payment process), and sometimes we must make a process hard to achieve (like deleting an account in Google or Facebook).

Barrier Design vs Barrier-free Design

Barrier design is about designing barriers in a process or a product.
For example, forcing users to press two keys to unlock the phone! The reason is clear. If the phone could be unlocked by one key, there was a chance to get unlocked in our pocket.

Barrier-free Design approach: Reduces or eliminates barriers to make a process happen faster. For example, Taking photos or Answering calls without having to unlock the phone

Time is an important parameter in urgent processes and can make a process work or fail.

Different conditions, different approaches

The lid of a can of dangerous medicines opens with two simultaneous movements (pushing down and turning at the same time); thus, it is not easily accessible to people, especially children.

But the lid of cans that are used immediately (such as sublingual tablets for myocardial infarction…) should be opened as fast as possible (importance of quick access during a medical accident)

First aid pack’s door is usually designed to open easily. Because we usually need them when we’re in a hurry and don’t want to challenge with the box.

first-aid box

When designing a product, you should think about the conditions your product is usually used in and consider the mental and physical condition of the user at that moment.

Designing Barriers in Urban Environments

I suppose that municipalities created the first barrier designs, using various barriers in the city to orchestrate cars and people in predefined directions or prevent a group of people from entering.

Park entrance

A good example is the curved entrance of parks, which allows pedestrians and wheelchairs to enter but prevents bicycles from entering the park:

barrier design

Hospital Doors

Hospital doors are usually self-opening (automatic) to make it easier for patients and disabled people to enter:

Bank Doors

The doors of jewelry stores and banks open by pulling inward, making it difficult for robbers to exit. Sometimes, there are two sets of doors in a row.

The design goal defines when to use a barrier or when to remove one. Using them in the wrong way can cause problems for users, so study your users and the product’s workflow to decide whether or not to use them.

Disclaimer: Barriers are not good for every situation. So use them at your own risk 🙂