As a neurodivergent web designer, the creative path has been filled with unique challenges and obstacles to overcome. But it has also allowed me to approach design in an innovative and brilliant way. We neurodivergent individuals think differently – our brains are wired in a less conventional manner. This can make certain aspects of design more difficult, but it is also a tremendous strength when harnessed properly.

One of the biggest challenges I face is dealing with disruptions to my flow state and struggles with task paralysis. When I’m in the zone, crafting layouts and coding designs, I need long periods of intense focus. Abrupt context shifts and multitasking can be jarring and drain my creative energy quickly. But I’ve learned strategies to protect my workflow like noise-canceling headphones, working during low-distraction hours, and using website blockers.

Overcoming executive dysfunction by building processes and routines has also been key. Things like defining clear step-by-step procedures for my design workflow and creating task lists help initiate action when motivation is low. I use productivity tools to chunk projects into smaller pieces to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Dealing with meltdowns and burnout is another obstacle. The intense problem-solving and meticulous detail work of web design can easily lead to overstimulation. I’ve learned this the hard way – there were times earlier in my career when I would get so overwhelmed that I’d take out my frustration by smashing my keyboard or mouse. Needless to say, that got very expensive quickly having to replace equipment constantly! Now I’ve become adept at pacing myself, taking breaks every 60-90 minutes, and recognizing the early signs that I’m approaching my limits. Finding healthier outlets like going for a walk has been crucial. Having strong communication with colleagues about my needs has been important too.

But neurodivergence also gives me incredible strengths in web design. I have an exceptional eye for detail which allows me to craft pixel-perfect user interfaces. I think in systems and patterns, which is ideal for designing components and UI libraries. And my creative mind can make fantastic intuitive leaps to generate innovative design solutions.


Actionable Tips for Neurodivergent Web Designers

Over the years, I’ve developed a number of strategies that can help neurodivergent individuals thrive as web designers:

1. Protect your flow state and reduce disruptions. Use noise-canceling headphones, work during low-distraction periods, block distracting websites/apps, and communicate your need for long focus windows to colleagues.

2. Build processes and automate as much as possible. Things like coded design system documentation and reusable component libraries can help avoid constantly reinventing the wheel. 

3. Use working memory aids. Things like code snippet managers, bookmarks bar, readme docs, and terminal snippets reduce mental load when referencing information.

4. Schedule alternating periods of intentional practice and diffuse thinking. Intense focused sessions followed by breaks to let ideas marinate can boost productivity.

5. Identify calming stim tools. Having cognitive restructuring techniques, fidget objects, or calming music/visuals on hand is key for self-regulation.

6. Build a curated workspace optimized for productivity. Personalize your desk setup, find the right flexibility aids/ergonomic equipment, and minimize physical and digital clutter.

7. Be open about your needs. Having transparent communication with colleagues about your working styles, stimming, and any necessary accommodations promotes understanding.

8. Connect with other neurodivergent designers. Find communities (online or locally) where you can share experiences, learnings, and support each other.

9. Consider working in Virtual Reality (WITH CAUTION): About 3 or 4 years ago I began working inside virtual reality (VR) on a Quest headset. My productivity and my ability to focus went through the roof. I work in VR every day now. But beware, while this is a great option for many neurodivergents’, it will not work for all. For some, it could make things worse. So start with a few shorter sessions and work your way up until you know how you handle working in VR.

As I said at the start of this article, the design process poses unique challenges for neurodivergent minds, but implementing individualized strategies can help unlock our incredible creative potential.


To my fellow neurodivergent designers out there, embrace your brilliant mind and let your superpowers shine through in your work. But also practice self-compassion – design is hard! Don’t be afraid to set boundaries, build processes to support your needs, and speak up for the accommodations that will unlock your creative potential. We are reimagining how interfaces should look and function. The web of the future will be more accessible and intuitive because of the neurodivergent designers helping create it.