Oct 14, 2020, Design

Why is Consistency So Important in Software Design?

Jacek Sęk Product Designer
image

The word “consistency” can have a couple of meanings. In terms of food, it means the texture. It can also refer to the uniformity of a document or the dependability of an employee. Consistency is crucial when you testify in court. It implies that the consistent thing is solid, well-organized and in compliance with certain rules or assumptions.

Today we look closer at consistency in reference to design. Why does consistency matter and how to maintain it while working on a project? Let’s find out!

Why should we care about consistent design?

Consistency in design means we produce all the elements with similarity. They should look and work as the parts of one bigger organism. This way, we give the user a much easier and more pleasant experience with our final product. Consistency is crucial to create intuitive mobile apps and websites.

It really matters, when it comes to learning things – for example how to use new software. With consistent design finding out how it works and where to find functionalities we are interested in is easy-peasy. Consistency just provides context that is understandable for most of us, so we can transfer our knowledge from one product we use to another.

Consistency is desired by our brains. It builds trust which gives us a reason to believe that we can expect alike experiences every time we use our smartphone or computer. There are many elements that are signs of consistency in design, and they are not only visual. They also address certain behavioral patterns. They understand how interactions between a human and hardware can vary. That’s why consistent design provides them in a way that is well-known to the receiver.

Types of consistency in design

To cite a very insightful Medium article about consistency in design, there are 4 types that we should always keep in mind.

  • Visual consistency

When all the elements that we see are made with integrity. It includes all the components like typography, icons, forms and much more.

  • Functional consistency

When every option we can access works in a similar way. This way we can predict what will happen when we click something or do a certain action.

  • Internal consistency

When you introduce additional functionalities that are consistent with the available ones. It combines both visual and functional consistency to be sure your product always has high usability and learnability.

  • External consistency

When your product looks and works similarly on all platforms. This way your users can expect the same experience whether they use it on different devices and systems.

How to keep your design project consistent?

Start with determining what are the business goals of your client but also – what are the goals of the potential product users. Finding a balance between those two is the first step. Then, ask yourself a couple of questions. If the brand is already on the market, it is worth looking closer at what is its relationship with the clients. How do they interact with it, what do they know about it? This can help to predict their future actions – which means creating a consistent design will be much easier.

You should also analyze more general issues when it comes to user experience and usability. Knowledge of psychological and sociological rules that can influence people’s behaviors will be very helpful. Find out the way to solve problems in the most simple way. Be aware of people’s preferences when it comes to using websites, applications and other online resources.

Elements of consistent design

  • Graphics & typography

This includes fonts, colors, buttons,  sizes of elements, positioning and much more. They need to be used accordingly to the project’s logic and distributed in the same manner within the product. You can work with a Design System to always remember what should be done, how and where. Be aware of the aesthetic principles of a brand you are collaborating with. Remember about symmetries and color contrasts to create an easy-on-the-eye experience.

Consistent visuals will not only help the user to navigate through the product, but also to identify the brand easily and with joy.

  • Language

The voice and tone you use in the copy can be super important when it comes to your company’s image. Every information you send to the audience should be correct with your communication vision. 

  • Patterns

Familiar customer paths can be found across multiple mobile applications and websites. That’s because online users already know their way with these services and they are searching for similar experiences in other products they give a try. If you provide the user journey that is almost instantly relatable, you can avoid the risk of losing potential clients.

Is consistency the opposite of innovation?

One might think that consistent design can be boring. That it makes everything look and work the same and doesn’t invite any innovation to the picture. But that’s not exactly true.

Keeping things consistent can just mean that adding changes will be more thought-through. This can take more time but also it helps to remember the most important thing – customer satisfaction. If you understand your users you can introduce innovation without losing consistency. This way you will give them a more positive experience and they will be able to fully take advantage of it – instead of trying to learn new functionalities.

Final words

“Having inconsistent interface is like trying to communicate with the user in several languages.” – says the article we mentioned above. As you can see, keeping consistency is not so hard but it can be crucial to delivering great experiences – and that’s what should matter for you the most.

Being inconsistent can make your product feel less appealing, confusing and more difficult to use which ultimately leads to being not really liked by your final customer. And that’s not an option.

Consistent design is definitely more efficient when it comes to time and budget. Using predefined components and building the product according to clear vision is much more effective and produces better results.

If you are a designer and you want to create IT products that are useful, elegant and robust – remember about consistency. Add a little touch of our fundamental design knowledge, spice it up with some newest trends – and voila! You get a web or mobile app that the users dream of!

At iteo we always pay attention to the details. Our goal is to deliver amazing software. We can collaborate – just let us know what you have in mind. We will help you achieve that with an extraordinary product!

Share