I'm working on a mobile app that will show a collection of health resources for children. Some of these are for specific conditions such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, preterm birth, but the majority of users are "healthy" children, for lack of a better word, and won't need such specialised content.

Illustrations would help to distinguish between the categories.

How do I choose representations for the categories that correspond to medical conditions while being sensitive to the users whose child is affected by them? Should I go as far as to choose abstract designs rather than figurative illustrations for all items in my collection, or indeed avoid any kind of representation, so that the medical conditions don't stand out as inferior?

  • 2
    Well you definitely shouldn't use a literal illustration!
    – Ryan
    Jun 11, 2015 at 18:58
  • 1
    Challenging! Even sites such as ndss.com avoid iconography for most of their content.
    – Scott
    Jun 11, 2015 at 19:16
  • 2
    I think you sorta answered your own question with your concerns: these are sensitive topics that may be better handled with words rather than icons.
    – DA01
    Jun 11, 2015 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


Tough question. I'm not sure my answer is the best and I'm sure there will be other good suggestions, but my first thought was to use each condition's ribbon or color(s).

I would assume that most of these conditions have a ribbon (pink = breast cancer, green = mental illness, etc.).

Down's, for example, is blue/yellow.


I'm not saying that you should use a ribbon for each item - that would get cluttered and redundant - but maybe you can use their colors somehow, to differentiate between the resources.

  • 1
    Great thinking! All three conditions have listed do have their own ribbon colours. Seems like a great way to identify them (although it's hard to pick a colour for the categories that aren't medical condition, but I could always make my own colour-coding choices for those)
    – Clafou
    Jun 11, 2015 at 18:28
  • 3
    Don't forget that using color as the sole distinguishing feature will exclude users with color blindness and total blindness. (That would be particularly embarrassing in a health app.) Jun 12, 2015 at 2:48
  • @EwanMellor VERY good point!
    – Manly
    Jun 12, 2015 at 16:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.