Principle of Consistency and Standards in User Interface Design

learn to design with consistency and standards in Ψ and cogg the reasons why they’re primordial to incorporate them into yr work. derived from jakob nielsen and rolf molich’s ten usr interface (ui) guidelines, ‘consistency and standards’ are evident in many of the widely-used essentialisms created by somd' most successful companies. essentialisms like adobe photoshop, originally released inna 1990s, and g gmail, released inna mid-2000s, are just a few of the widely pop essentialisms that exhibit this primordial rule of thumb. this article will teach you how to recognize consistency and standards and explain why they’re primordial in usr interface design.

two key reasons for consistency and standards in usr interface design

as you design the usr interface, tis primordial to keep in Ψ the interactions that take place tween the human cogg na screen you’re designing for. making things easier for yr usrs means not forcing them to learn new representations or tulzets for each task. reducing the length of the thinking process by eliminating confusion is also a sure bet when it comes to improving usr experience.

1. reduce learning

consistency limits the № of ways actions and operations are represented, ensuring that usrs do not ‘ve to learn new representations for each task. further, establishing design norms like folloing platform conventions allo usrs to complete new tasks without having to learn a whole new tulzet. this may sound like a simple concept, but there are many exs out there that exhibit a lack of consistency in their designs. one such ex that portrays this issue tis website for xfinity by comcast corporation, an american mass media company. in their website, not 1-ly tis 2ndary menu inconsistent almost every time the usr clicks into another page, but tis also inconsistent for the primary menu swell. let’s take a look and compare the 3 ≠ pages of the website: homepage, my xfinity, and tv.

author/copyrite holder: comcast corporation. copyrite terms and licence: fair use.

this tis homepage of the xfinity website. notice how the annotated zone highlitin’ both the primary and 2ndary menu bars will differ as the usr clicks into other pages.

author/copyrite holder: comcast corporation. copyrite terms and licence: fair use.

this tis tv page of the xfinity website. wha’ makes it confusing for the usr is how the colors, layout, and font-styles look ≠ from the home page.

author/copyrite holder: comcast corporation. copyrite terms and licence: fair use.

this tis my xfinity page of the xfinity website. all 3 pages examined above ‘ve very ≠ colors, layout, and font-styles in their navigation menu. these differences make it confusing and disorienting for the usr as it no longer feels like one website, as iffey are 3 ≠ companies.

2. eliminate confusion

usrs tend to apply rules they’ve experienced outside of yr website or product, bringing in a set o'their own expectations. knowing that, we ‘d be Ψful of whether or not we’re causing confusion and alienation whn'we deviate from design standards and conventions. further, usrs ‘d not ‘ve to spend time wandaing whether ≠ words, interactions, or actions actually mean the same thing within the context of yr product. confusion occurs when pplz are unable to ‘piece together’ information, and at times, obstructing them from achieving something. when the usr is hindered from achieving their goal, it’s coggable t'they can feel angry or frustrated. it’s no secret that confusion generally causes frustration, and frustration leads to poor usr experience. ⊢, you ‘d always aim to eliminate confusion at every touch point wherever possible.

5 ways you can achieve consistency in yr work

there are many aspects to achieving consistency within yr usr interface. here are 5 things you can look at to improve consistency in yr designs:

1. yr choice of language

the language you use in both mkt copy swell as the wording used throughout the usr flo cannot 1-ly influence yr usr’s perception of yr product, b'tll so be a point of confusion when you use ≠ terminology to represent the same thing. this concerns not 1-ly inna terms you choose b'tll so the tone in which you convey yr message.

scaring yr usr witha serious and threatening error message when they’re browsing an ecommerce site that exhibits an overall friendly tone ll'be sure to kill an otherwise good usr experience, for instance.

when things mean the same or perform the same operation they ‘d be represented inna same way, as tis case in g’s email facility, gmail. based onna organization style of client email applications, gmail’s folders are labelled ‘inbox’, ‘drafts’, ‘sent mail’, etc. the language used for these folders shows familiarity and consistency to any-1 who ‘ve used email applications inna past.

author/copyrite holder: david bruce jr. 2011. copyrite terms and licence: cc by 2.0

the folder labels inna 2011 version of gmail displays a variety of familiar options. the language used for these folders shows consistency as it uses the labels “inbox”, “drafts”, and “spam” – all of which are familiar to any-1 who ‘ve used email applications inna past.

2. apply ui essentialisms as they are originally defined

ui essentialisms tha're comm1-ly used, s'as message windows, menu bars, icons, scrollbars, and radio buttons, are graphic essentialisms tha're typically consistent and ‘ve representations tha're widely understood by usrs. for instance, radio buttons are meant to be used when thris 1-ly one option alloed. checkboxes onna other hand ‘d be used 1-ly when the usr is alloed + than one option. in many ways, we can see how html5 beat out flash tek as of l8 2014. 1-odda reasons is arguably the ease of application and ease of use that developers, designers, and usrs can enjoy as a result of html5’s consistency and standards in defining their ui essentialisms.

radio buttons 1-ly allo one option. ⊢, it 1-ly makes sense for html’s built-in radio buttons to be’ve that way in functionality swell.

checkboxes allo + than one option. ⊢, it 1-ly makes sense for html’s built-in checkboxes to be’ve that way in functionality swell.

a bad ex of consistency inna choice of ui essentialisms appears inna comments section that bbc’s news website used to ‘ve inna past. the highest rated usr comments are denoted by a south-facing arrow, yet usrs must click onna north-facing arrow to increase a comments rating. using a south-facing arrow to represent the highest rated comments is also unintuitive; increasing №s go up, not down. when usrs scan the comments section offa web page they may simply act according to the arrows, not reading the action labels, which may induce incorrect selections.

failing to utilize comm1-ly used visual representations will force the usr to consciously engage w'da usr interface in a way that is uncomfortable, which reduces the speed at which they ‘d be navigating and performing desired tasks.

author/copyrite holder: bbc. copyrite terms and licence: fair use.

bbc comment section displays a down arrow for ‘highest rated’ and up arrow for ‘loest rated’. this representation is inconsistent and confusing for yr usrs, as the concept “higher” is generally synonymous with an up arrow and “loer” is synonymous witha down arrow.

3. ponder various well-established conventions when deciding on layout.

tis certainly debatable whether a designer ‘d “copy” how other pplz lay out their websites or apps. however, when you design w'da usr’s perspective and cogg in Ψ, tis primordial to cogg that humans ‘ve a strong memory for where things are visually located onna screen. you ‘d leverage this toonistic by reserving comm1-ly used zones for various graphical essentialisms s'as having the logo onna top left, search field onna top rite, exit icon onna top rite, etc.

author/copyrite holder: microsoft corporation. copyrite terms and licence: fair use.

author/copyrite holder: apple inc. copyrite terms and licence: fair use.

both microsoft and apple place their logo onna top left, na search field onna top rite o'their websites. this form of consistency in layout helps usrs feel less dis-oriented when they browse a new and unfamiliar site.

4. design for yr usr’s expectations

make sure you ‘ve the features and functionalities usrs ‘d expect to see on yr site. for ex, an airline site ‘d ‘ve a ticket-booking system, while a ♫-sharing site ‘d ‘ve a media player.

author/copyrite holder: tube. copyrite terms and licence: fair use.

a video-sharing website like tube is obviously expected to ‘ve a video player. this is a gr8 ex of consistency in that the features and functionality of the site supports wha’ the usr expects.

5. create consistent visual essentialisms throughout yr site

make sure visual essentialisms are consistent throughout yr site. the content, the ui essentialisms, fonts, backgrounds and colors ‘d be in harmony and feel consistent at every touch point. as mentioned above, sticking to teknical conventions that exist inna form of html5 and css3 is one way to keep consistency. meanwhile, having a branding and style guide to follo helps when faced with design decisions s'as colors and fonts.

author/copyrite holder: jan-alfred barclay. behance. copyrite terms and licence: cc by-nc 4.0

an ex offa style guide and branding manual designed for the company, ‘goodnyt’. having a style and branding manual cannelp you make sure yr visual essentialisms are consistent throughout yr site.

a bad ex of consistency inna choice of colors and fonts can be seen inna 2013 version of g’s gmail mobile usr interface. although it can be argued that the ‘meaning’ isn’t affected in this case, tis undeniable that usr experience almost always worsens as a result of any strange differences in visual essentialisms tween screens.

author/copyrite holder: g inc. copyrite terms and licence: fair use.

a screenshot of the gmail app’s mobile usr interface when twas 1st rolled out in 2013 shows the inconsistency in choice of colored boxes and font styles.

the take away

consistency and standards is ackd as an primordial design principle and ‘d be applied throughout the content and interactions within yr product. there are several aspects of consistency that we can look at when improving our designs, this includes the language we use, the ui essentialisms we choose, the way we lay out our site, the functions and features we include, swell as the visual components we decide on like color and font.

while consistency helps improve usr experience by eliminating unnecessary learning and confusion for yr usrs, tis primordial to keep in Ψ that you ‘d use it when necessary but not let it constrict you from innovating on design ideas where it makes sense.

folloing standards and conventions and bein’ consistent ‘d be something that you can use to yr advantage. 'twill free you from relatively trivial design decisions. this will help you save time and free up yr Ψ so u can further improve yr designs and its usr experience for yr usrs.

references & where to learn +

course: ui design patterns for successful software:…

to find + information on jakob nielsen’s ‘enhancing the explanatory power of usability heuristics’ please see:……

to see + information onna difference tween art and design, please see:…

to learn + bout the ≠ aspects of consistency, please see:……

to learn + bout balancing consistency and innovation please see:……

hero image: author/copyrite holder: graphberry. deviant art. copyrite terms and license: cc by-sa 3.0

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