Imagine, suddenly you have to use Roman numerals instead of Arabic. How does this sound to you? Or even how does this look to you? MMXVII Instead of 2017. The point is, when people are used to doing something for years a certain way, is really hard for them to break that habit, and most of the time they give up during the learning process and get back to the thing, which they are used to. The key here is consistency.
"It might sound like an oxymoron, consistency is one of the key principles in designing a website or a mobile app."
When you think of consistency in design, try to think of your workspace. You probably have everything organized and when someone reshuffles your stuff, you get lost and mad. So does the user of your website or mobile app. Consistency is crucial for the functioning of your website, or mobile app.
Every user’s first visit of your website/app is a new experience for him/her. Your product is different from others, but your website somehow reminds the users of other websites, which they have visited before. The less time a visitor has to spend on learning how to use your website/app, the better.
Bear in mind that the way your website/mobile app looks today, is a combination of user experiences throughout several years. John Locke, one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers and the "Father of Liberalism" postulated, that mind of a human being is blank after birth (tabula rasa), and everything he later knows comes from learning and experience. This principle can be also applied to web design, as there is no such thing as an “intuitive design” we often hear about, but rather it is design that appears intuitive, but in reality it reflects all of the previous experiences taken together.
“There is no such thing as intuitive design. Because design is built on all of your previous experiences.”Less experienced designers often break the rules of consistency. It can have really negative impact on the overall outcome of the whole website/ mobile app. Working with inconsistent design is not easy even for the experienced designer, because they do not have a clearly defined rules for different graphic elements. This also delay the whole process of production. Even bigger problem arises, when new designers join the project, or when the whole company is replaced. At PLATFORM we have multiple designers working on every project and consistency not only saves money during the process of production, but even when some small changes have to be made.
Here are some of the basic principles for creating consistency in web or mobile app design:
Fonts, colors, and all visuals ought to be clearly defined. Setting up a firm hierarchy is important. Larger elements are seen to have higher priority, smaller are not that important, so make sure you prioritize what you want your users to see. Use the same color scale throughout the design. All the buttons, icons, etc., have to be the same size. Consistent visuals allow visitors, to use your web/app very quickly and without any extra effort.
Consistency does not only apply to design, but also to language and tone used on your website/mobile app. If your tone and language is funny, be consistent. Do not change from funny to formal and vice versa, it will confuse the users.
People are used to certain design patterns. Use those! Do not try to think about placing a menu button to a completely different spot, or do not mix elements together and create new patterns. It costs time, money, and it will confuse your visitors.
The role of a designer is to come up with new ideas and to innovate but also to create a perfect user experience, which will not confuse your user or lower your conversion rate. Consistency saves time and money. Of course, major changes are possible but you have to prepare the users by taking small steps or by providing excellent training on how to use your new website or app.