The Design Flow: Consistency

The Design Flow: Consistency

Week 9 – Learning Portfolio item 1 – Q1

Consistency is when “Systems are more usable and learnable when similar parts are expressed in similar ways” (Lidwell, W. 2003) Meaning that if something is consistent then it is easier for people to use. However, this is usually on behalf of the designer, because when a designer changes their design, they expect that the “resulting design will be consistent with the beginning design” (Braha, D. Maimon, Z. O. 1998) There are four types on consistency: Aesthetic, Functional, Internal and External.

Companies use Aesthetic design to create recognition and association through a consistent experience (DiMarco, J. 2010. pp. 27 – 59).  A corporate identity is created through design elements such as colour, text, logo’s etc. This creates an association between companies and people. Functional consistency is similar because the way certain designs are instantly recognised by people .However, functional consistency is not just for corporate identity. It “affects the placement of navigation buttons, the way media controls such as start and stop buttons work”  (DiMarco, J. 2010). Functionally consistent designs enable people to transfer their learnability about a device because the functions are universally known such as the play and pause buttons on an mp3 player. The product may be released by different companies but the design is consistent because it enhances people’s usability.

However, internal and external consistency are slightly different. Internal consistency is when certain elements within a system are consistent. This creates trust in people because it shows that the system has been designed specifically for their purposes. This is mainly used in website design because websites need to be easy to move around and use, allowing your “designs to develop and internal consistency makes it easier for your customers to understand” (Administrator, 2010). External consistency is consistency within an environment.

External consistency can be  “The use of similar terminology and functional attributes across platforms or commonly used interfaces. An example here is a ‘back’ button and the Windows ‘minimise’, ‘maximise’ and ‘close’ buttons which are utilised in popularly used interfaces such as ‘Internet Explorer’. (Chambers, M. 2006).

Reference List

DiMarco, J. (2010). Digital Design for Print and Web: An Introduction to Theory, Principles, and Techniques. Design: Defintion and Devices.(pp. 27 – 59) New Jersey, United States: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Administrator, (2011, September 28 ). Principles of Design. [Web log Post] Retrieved from

Chambers, M. (2006) Design Rules, Principles and Standards. Retrieved from

Lidwell, W. Holden, K. Butler, J. (2010)Universal Principles of Design: 125 ways to enchance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make better design decisions, and teach through design. (2nd Ed). Rockport Publishers, Inc. Beverly. Massachusetts.

Braha, D. Maimon , Z. O. (1998) A mathematical theory of design: foundations, algorithms, and applicatons. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.