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Target Size and 2.5.5 | Adrian Roselli

June eight, 2019; 5 Comments

TL;DR: No matter what accessibility conformance degree you target, attempt to make sure that interactive controls are at the least 44 by 44 pixels in measurement. Hyperlinks in blocks of textual content are exempt.


In real life there’s sometimes both a visual and tactile element to an interface. You’ve got to be able to feel the button splits or ridges of your automotive’s local weather management should you don’t need to take your eyes off the street. Contact typing depends on sensing the F and J nubs (for U.S. English keyboards, at the very least) and the gaps between keys. Fumbling with a light-weight change at the hours of darkness is about sliding your hand across the wall.

With computer systems operating a graphical consumer interface (GUI), clicking a button or link is a matter of getting both a proxy on your finger or your finger itself into the fitting spot and not lacking. You’ll be able to swing a mouse pointer round a display with out clicking and nothing dangerous happens, but you can’t drag your finger across your telephone to really feel the quantity pad. A stylus might do both, depending on the developer’s intent.

Actual life elements reminiscent of bumpy roads (as a passenger in a automotive, not a driver), palms sticky with ice cream, single-handed use of big shows, previous ball mice filled with desktop lint, or mobility impairments can make a graphical interface confounding to use. Luckily some individuals have been considering these challenges for quite a while.

Fitts’ Regulation

The GUIs we use immediately are informed each by expertise going back millennia and research that is a little more current. For example, in 1954 Fitts’ Regulation put to phrases one thing we might have have innately understood — the time to get to a goal is said to its distance from our start line and its measurement. The result of testing this with customers is that small targets end in larger error charges.

I am oversimplifying a bit, but the gist is that the world of interplay design has recognized concerning the need for bigger targets for longer than there has been a subject of interplay design, not to mention GUIs. Nevertheless, there’s loads of proof that individual interplay designers perhaps do not know this.

That’s part of how we received to a state where we have to mandate bigger goal areas inside WCAG.


WCAG 2.1 brought with it a couple of new success standards. 2.5.5 Target Size requires a goal space for a pointer interplay (touch or mouse, for example) to be 44 × 44 CSS pixels. This equates to a visual angle of about 0.9372 degrees, or no matter you get if you make a 44 pixel block and view it in your browser with default zoom.

There are exceptions:

  • If there is a duplicate or equal version of the control at the minimum measurement, then an occasion could be smaller;
  • If the control lives inside the move of a piece of textual content;
  • If it’s a default control from the browser with no types applied;
  • If its smaller measurement is important to accurately conveying info.

2.5.5 is a degree AAA success criterion, which suggests organizations concentrating on AA compliance (primarily all of them) are more likely to ignore it. Which is unlucky, given the potential benefit. Causes for why this was categorized at AAA are past the scope of this publish. Fortunately, there are platform tips and interface design names that advocate for a bigger goal measurement, unbiased of WCAG.


Apple offers design ideas for contact goal sizes throughout its units. For iOS, it recommends 44 points × 44 points (not pixels) at least.

For buttons on watchOS, Apple recommends totally different minimums based mostly on the form of the button using the next (complicated to me) desk.

Dimensions as pulled from the Apple website

Button sort 38mm (minimal) 42mm (minimum) Round 75 pixels 80 pixels Spherical rectangular 50 pixels high 52 pixels high

There look like no minimal management sizes for macOS, nor for its Contact Bar, although the Touch Bar most peak is 60 pixels, with 44 pixels advisable as the utmost peak for icons.

A finger over a very small button and a finger over a larger button measured at 44 points.Pulled from the Hit Targets part of the UI Design Do’s and Don’ts web page.


Microsoft offers tips for touch targets in Fluent, its design system, as 7.5mm sq., or 40 × 40 effective pixels (epx) on a 135 PPI display, at default zoom. This was a lower from 44 pixels (epx), which was the Common Home windows Platform commonplace prior to the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809).

The web page additionally outlines what to think about as you measurement touch controls:

  • Frequency of Touches — think about making targets which are repeatedly or often pressed larger than the minimum measurement.
  • Error Consequence — targets that have severe penalties if touched in error should have larger padding and be placed further from the edge of the content space. That is especially true for targets which are touched incessantly.
  • Position within the content area.
  • Type factor and display measurement.
  • Finger posture.
  • Contact visualizations.

These sizing standards will not be brand new in Fluent. When you return to 2017, you’ll be able to see Microsoft advisable a minimum goal measurement of 60 pixels, or 11mm square, which included 2mm of padding to the subsequent target. Observe that right here it referred to targets, not touch targets.

An icon button with boxes drawn to show the different sizes for the control and its padding.Microsoft’s no-longer-current recommendation on the right track sizes, circa 2017..


The Android Developer Guide recommends a minimum touch target of 48 × 48 system pixels. Unfortunately, this info is buried in the Accessibility section of the Greatest Practices portion of the guide as an alternative of alongside or embedded inside the documentation for constructing contact controls.

Google reinforces this sizing in the Net Fundamentals course in the part for accessible types. Along with noting that 48 gadget pixels is 9mm (which it asserts is the dimensions of an individual’s finger pad area), it also suggests an eight pixel hole between controls to attenuate mis-taps.

An illustrated example of controls of different sizes as seen on an Android phone.This image is from the Net Fundamentals course, not the Android Developer Information.


BBC’s Cellular Accessibility Tips are a set of standards for BBC staff and its suppliers when creating net or native content or apps. They defer to the Android and iOS platform tips for native apps and advocate a minimum 7mm touch target.

International Expertise Language (GEL) is BBC’s design system for all of its on-line presence. GEL recommends a minimum contact measurement of 7mm, with 5mm in special instances. For instances the place either dimension can’t be 7mm, then it mandates a 5mm exclusion zone. It also supplies these dimensions in pixels — advisable 44 pixels with a 32 pixel minimum, and for particular instances a 24 pixel minimum.

A pair of squares showing their dimensions.One of the examples out there on the GEL website.

Nielsen Norman Group

Nielsen Norman Group recommends a touch goal measurement of 1cm (0.four inches). NNGs touch goal article cites research of finger sizes, references Fitts’ Regulation, and shares a number of examples. It’s a good resource if it’s worthwhile to persuade others on your workforce of the significance of affordable sizes but who will not be interested within the platform tips nor the WCAG SC.

The article declines to offer pixel sizes. This is recognition of the variation of displayed physical pixel dimensions throughout units. That brings us again to the impracticality of holding a ruler to a display, not to mention holding a rule to each of a sampling of screens that correspond to your viewers.

Testing Reference

44 pixels may have totally different bodily sizes across units, even with no zooming applied. For example, 44 pixels on an iPad might be physically larger than 44 pixels on an iPad Mini, owing to them having the same pixel rely but in hardware with totally different display sizes.

You cannot be anticipated to seize a ruler and measure every system. You’ll be able to, nevertheless, create a reference field at that measurement and view it across units, evaluating it to the controls you’ve in your design and making certain they are at the least that enormous. I made a 44px reference sq. and embedded it under.

See the Pen
44px Square for testing 2.5.5 Target Size by Adrian Roselli (@aardrian)
on CodePen.

Wrapping it Up

For controls that may be activated by touch, with a pointer a stylus, or another physical gadget, ensure they are giant enough to hit simply and have enough lifeless area between them to assist avoid mis-clicks or mis-taps.

Even if WCAG AAA compliance isn’t your objective, lean on the guidelines from locations who have been doing this some time and affirm those sizes work in your users of their contexts (akin to a pitching fishing trawler versus a front room Davenport).

44 pixels might be an excellent minimum, provided that it or a worth close to it’s persistently beneficial throughout specialists, requirements, and platforms.

The opening picture is from I Contact Myself by Divinyls, fronted by Chrissy Amphlett. In 2013 she died of breast most cancers and problems from a number of sclerosis and this track soon turned the anthem for the Australian breast cancer awareness challenge “I Touch Myself.” The U.S. Facilities for Disease Control has info on breast most cancers awareness.

Update: 10 June 2019

Shortly after posting, I used to be asked concerning the problem making footer links conform to WCAG 2.5.5. Patrick Lauke walks via a bit of the history of the SC and his final suggestion.

The overall argument I’m making is much less about WCAG conformance and extra about making a usable interface whereas leaning on the teachings of past analysis and tips. However principally, in instances like this, ensure a consumer can’t easily mis-tap the flawed thing however can still get to the factor you want.


accessibility, standards, usability, UX, W3C, WAI, WCAG

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