Week 2: Consistency

Discussion and reading for week 2 text – Consistency

Consistency: Q2 Examples

According to Butler, Holden and Lidwell “Consistency enables people to efficiently transfer knowledge to new contexts, learn new things quickly and focus attention on the relevant aspects of a task” (2003, p. 46). The following are examples of this principle.


Exit Signs

Exit Signs


Figure 1

Emergency exit signs, such as the ones seen in public spaces, are always green with white text, independent of location. This makes them aesthetically and externally consistent. They are aesthetically consistent because they green backing and white text is familiar and recognisable as an exit sign. They are externally consistent because these signs exist in more than one system and have the same design throughout the country and some international countries. Designs that involve serious repercussions, such as fire hazard signs or traffic designs, are more externally consistent as there is a greater need for understanding. These signs can also feature an androgynous stick figure heading towards a door, making it easier for foreigners to determine an exit.



McDonalds Golden Arches

McDonalds Arches


Figure 2

The McDonalds golden arches are a worldwide logo for the company and are instantly recognisable. They are aesthetically consistent as the logo features the same or similar font, colour and graphic in every interpretation. The arches are internally consistent as it is a brand that manipulates and enforces the logo and it remains the same throughout the company internationally. This consistency is used as a advertising strategy as the company is immediately recognised by one image or sign, no matter where in the world you may be.



Chair Adjustment Controls

 Chair Adjustment Controls

Figure 2

Chair adjustment controls, the levers and cranks that are pulled in order to manipulate chair height and angle, are located in the same area on almost all office chairs. This is convenient for the user as they are not forced to search around for the controls and make adjusting the chair to their individual needs smoother and more efficient. The height adjustment controls are located under the seat on the right hand side, right in the reachable area. This is because it is the most common adjustment made. The back height is always at the rear of the seat and incline is found on the right hand side next to the height controls. It is functionally consistent, as the action remains the same for most office chairs and externally consistent as most companies operate this way.





Butler, J., Holden, K., & Lidwell, W. (2003). Aesthetic‐Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of               Design (pp. 46). Massachusetts: Rockport.

Figure 1 Exit Sign. (n.d) In First Safety Signs [Digital Image]. Retrieved May 30, from                                   http://www.firstsafetysigns.co.uk/WebRoot/BT2/Shops/Store2_002E_Shop1848/45F5/4CA           A/50BE/B6A6/CDCB/AC10/3D2A/0034/300mmx150mm-exit-left.gif

Figure 2 McDonalds Arches. (n.d) In Red Angle Spanish – WordPress [Digital Image]. Retrieved               May 30, from https://redanglespanish.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/mcdonalds.png

Figure 3 Chair. (n.d) In Washington CI [Digital Image]. Retrieved May 30, from                                             http://www.washingtonci.com/skin/frontend/WACI/primary/images/content/products-                   services/furniture/seating/chair-adjustments.png


Consistency: Q1 Summary

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/