“Creating beautiful consistency comes with a deep understanding of the fundamentals of design and the reasoning behind a user’s experience.” (Toscano, 2016).
According to the design principles, consistency is seen when the functionality of the system is improved by repeating parts are displayed in a similar manner each time. The principle of “consistency enables people to efficiently transfer knowledge to new contexts, learn new things quickly, and focus attention of the relevant aspects of a task.” (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2003). Consistency can be conceived into four categories; aesthetic, functional, internal, and external.
For example, a company logo that repeats their style and appearance through font, colour and graphics refers to aesthetic consistency. Aesthetic consistency conveys emotional expectations, increases recognition and displays membership to the viewers. An example on aesthetic consistency is the brand’s Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The brand is immediately recognisable as the company always features it’s logo directly on the hood or grill of it’s cars. The brand has created a respected and admired positive relationship with their customers, allowing their logo to become identified with quality and prestige.
Referring to consistency through meaning and action is represented as functional consistency. By forcing people to utilise existing knowledge of the function of the design, functional consistency improves usability and allows the user’s learnability to increase. For example, DVD control symbols of rewind, forward, play and pause are now used on other designs such as iPods and slide projectors. The repetitive use of these symbols displayed on different and new products allows its users to utilise their existing knowledge about the functionality of the controls, making the new devices usability easier and quicker to learn.
Signs displayed within a park that are consistent with one another are seen as internal consistency. This example refers to consistency with other elements as part of the system. Internal consistency is an indicator that a system has been designed, not just smashed together, creating trust within its users. Internal consistency also combines aesthetic and functional consistency allowing the elements to create a usable design.
Other elements considered in the environment is seen as external consistency. External consistency is more difficult to achieve as contrasting systems rarely have common design standards. This type of consistency prolongs the benefits of internal consistency across many, independent systems.
The McDonald’s logo is an example of aesthetic consistency.
Designed with a yellow ‘M,’ the McDonald’s logo becomes instantaneously recognisable as the same format of design has been used since it was first created.”Consistent use of these shape elements will remind the viewer of the logo without being redundant.” (Budelmann, Kim, Wozniak & Curt, 2010, p.34).
By consistently utilising the same shapes and colours in the logo it creates an emotional link to the viewer. The same use of the ‘M’ reminds the customer of the smell, the food, and how cheap the brand is. “These elements not only are useful in making the look more cohesive, but they can also help make the identity more meaningful and memorable.” (Budelmann, Kim, Wozniak & Curt, 2010, p.34).
The McDonald’s logo is seen as aesthetic pleasing through its use of simple colours and fonts. By consistently repeating this look, it creates a positive relationship to the viewer as it has become appealing to them.
The iPod’s function buttons are an example of functional consistency.
The symbols displayed on the iPod’s function buttons are portrayed to convey the actions of pause, play, rewind, forward and to increase or decrease the volume. The corresponding symbols are presented opposite to one another, allowing the location of these functions to be easily found by the user.
The familiar shapes of the design positioned in this format has become universally known through the past experiences of cassette and VCR players. They become instantaneously recognisable, allowing the user to think without thought and use the design functionally. “When consistency is present in your design, people can transfer knowledge to new contexts and learn new things quickly without pain.” (Nikolov, 2017).
An example of external consistency is an exit sign. External consistency is defined as consistency with other factors in different settings. Although architects and engineers design exits signs differently, the fundamentals of the design is always present. The viewers are directed in one direction to where the exit is through the use of arrows and the symbol of a running man through the doorway, as they convey symbols that are instantly recognisable. In the image above you can look at the graphics of the simple design and instantly identify what they are as they are used consistently for safety throughout buildings. “A clean, visually consistent design gives viewers feelings of comfort, control and familiarity.” (Ellis, Stryjewski & Zieba, 2015, p. 20).
Cao, J., Ellis, M., Stryjewski, K., & Zieba, K. (2015). Web UI design for the human eye: Principles of visual consistency. Retrieved from https://www.awwwards.com/free-ebook-principles-of-ui-design-consistency.html
Budelmann, Kim, K., Wozniak, Y., & Curt. (2010). Brand identity essentials. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ECU/reader.action?docID=3399704&ppg=7
Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic-Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 46). Massachusetts: Rockport
Nikolov, A. (2017, April 8). Design principle: Consistency. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://uxdesign.cc/design-principle-consistency-6b0cf7e7339f
Toscano, J. (2016, January 25). The value of consistent design. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.invisionapp.com/blog/consistent-design/