When parts and aspects of a system or design are similar to other components of a design, or a similar design, it is said to be consistent. For example, a user interface, such as Windows, will always have a close button in the top right hand corner of the screen. Consistency allows for smoother operation of a product, design or system which in turn builds strong relationships between the design and user. According to Levinson and Schlatter “To help users – and avoid common interface design mistakes – designers and developers need to establish rules for placement and treatment of interface elements and stick to them” (2013, p. 3).
Consistency is a similar design principle to consistency, in that features are carried over from one form to another (Clayton and Hashimoto, 2009). When users become familiar with the way a certain design operates or flows, it can be disjointing and confusing when this design is changed. It is therefore incredibly important that designs operate in the same way across multiple mediums. Consistency leads to the user or consumer to feel safe and in control due to predictability and habit (Nielsen, 2010). When the user feels safe and comfortable they are likely to return to the product or website. In order to create consistency in a website, designers should consider elements (footer and header), interaction (the display of content), content (uploading schedule and information) and overall design (Smith, 2010).
Butler, Holden & Lidwell’s (2003) article defines the three categories that consistency can fit: aesthetic, functional, internal and external. The examples provided are what solidify the theory, and assist the reader in determining consistencies within everyday objects and systems. It links consistency to human emotion and psychology associated with predictability and safety, which provides a deeper understanding on the way we view design as a whole.
Butler, J., Holden, K., & Lidwell, W. (2003). Aesthetic‐Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 46). Massachusetts: Rockport.
Clayton, M., & Hashimoto, A. (2009). Visual Design Fundamentals : A Digital Approach (3rd ed.). USA: Charles River Media / Cengage Learning.
Levinson, D., & Schlatter, T. (2013). Visual Usability : Principles and Practices for Designing Digital Applications. USA: Elsevier Science.
Nielsen, Jakob. (2011). Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design. 2015, from http://www.nngroup.com/articles/top-10-mistakes-web-design/
Smith, T. (2010). Consistency: Key to a Better User Experience. 2015, from http://www.uxbooth.com/articles/consistency-key-to-a-better-user-experience/