Nothing is more annoying to a user than a lack of consistency across your design. Consistency allows the user to develop a stable mental model. Users develop a mental model of how your design works. In fact, they come to your website or application with many mental models already in place. Some of them not good, maybe even bad. But that is what they expect. Users expect the design to conform with their current mental models.

People use your design to perform a task. If it is a website especially, they want to get in, do something, and get out again, probably back onto facebook or TwitterConsistency in your design is an important part of allowing users to finish their task. This means that the chances of the user following through to conversion (pressing the big orange buy button) is increased if they enjoy their experience using your design.

Consistency in design can include many things:

Consistency is hard to achieve, but looks good

Consistency is hard to achieve, but looks good

  • Fonts, colors, style.
  • Navigation. Providing a logical navigation structure.
  • UI controls. Choosing similar controls for similar tasks.
  • Data input formats. e.g. consistent dates, credit card numbers, etc.
  • Predictable behaviour between UI elements.
  • Standards and accepted methods. Don’t invent new things.

A design without consistency causes your valuable user to become annoyed and suspicious of your ability to provide service.  Design consistency will reduce if you have a product that is developed by more than one team of developers. In fact, depending on how much design review process you employ, this can happen if you have more than one developer. Address consistency early and often.

Phinetune are experienced ex-developers who now work in the area of design usability and can help you to identify existing consistency issues in your design that are probably costing you, either money or web traffic, or both. The best time to fix something, of course, is right at the beginning and Phinetune can help you there too by getting in at the very start of your project and help you to create a good design by working with the developers and speaking their language.

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