Chris Ashton

dai11y 20/05/2022

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Default focus outlines: Don’t remove them!

So many good tips in this article – though don’t be fooled by the title. This isn’t about the native browser focus styles; the participants in this podcast do advocate that it’s fine to provide your own custom focus styles. This is about removing any focus styles whatsoever, and why that’s a bad thing.

Many of us have come across this before: a designer insisting we remove the outline provided by browsers, but not providing their own focus style to replace it with. The analogies in this article are great:

  • Focus styles are like streetlights. Even if you think they’re ugly – they’re extremely useful.
  • Want to remove focus styles? How about removing all handles from your doors and windows, to avoid breaking the smooth flow of the design.

And some tips:

  • Ask designers to try to navigate their own designs via keyboard only.
  • Ask what the alternative for the native focus state should be. If the answer is that there shouldn’t be a focus state at all, then this discussion isn’t about the outline.

The article contains a podcast recording and a transcript. Worth a read/listen.

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