Consistency in Good Usability
In this learning portfolio I will be discussing consistency as a key contributor to good usability. Consistency does not just mean more aesthetic pleasure, as it also increases the likelihood of the user being able to process the information. Consistency is effectively broken down into four fundamentals of Internal, external, functional and aesthetic consistency (Galitz, 1985).
“Consistency in design is about making elements uniform — having them look and behave the same way. We often hear designers talk about consistent navigation, consistent page layouts, or consistent control elements. In each case, the designer is looking for a way to leverage the usability by creating uniformity” (Spool, 2005, September 15).
Aesthetic consistency is traditionally what we find pleasing to the eye, usually with relation to human beauty, for example Angelina Jolie may be more aesthetically pleasing than Magda Szubanski. Aesthetic consistency works in the same way with design, in relation to colour, graphics and font being consistent throughout the design. Even if jumbled up words and mixed up colours are selected as part of your design technique, it should be consistent with the colours blending well together. Functional consistency refers to the linear progress in the way information should be set out. Functional consistency is achieved when the user is able to effectively engage with information, in turn allowing them to learn more efficiently. Existing connotations within a society should be considered when thinking about functionality, for example, most people know that the cross resembles Jesus Christ because it is a widely used symbol throughout society (Smith & Bebak, 2006).
Internal consistency works on the notion of elemental interrelation within design, in terms of how things work together. An everyday example of internal consistency would be finding a computer lab inside a church, which would provide no internal consistency opposed to candles. External consistency is an extension of internal consistency in that it focuses on different systems with the same design, in many ways it is a broader definition of internal consistency. An example of external consistency could be that a hypnotist’s room possesses candles and other elements which resemble a church. However, it would be likely that a hypnotist would exclude other elements possessed within a church, giving evidence that external consistency is in fact rare (“Consistency and Repetition,” n.d.).
St. Peter’s Church, n.d.
All four fundamentals mentioned, contribute to the process of providing an adequate web design. Aesthetics is the most important element as a web page that is not aesthetically pleasing will effectively be ignored by the user (Galitz, 1985).
Aesthetic consistency is evident within the David Jones logo, as we find it pleasing to the eye with the simplistic and consistent colours of black and white blending well together. The black and white colours provide the relevant connotations of a premium department store, if it were fluoro colours it would possess a lack of class. The label also has functional consistency in that it is set out clearly and easy to read clear, with ‘David Jones’ in white bold on top of a black background. Internal consistency is evident when walking into David Jones, as we find a classy department store. External consistency can be found internationally, with other department stores providing a similar style of logo, as well as a similar interior to that of David Jones (Smith & Bebak, 2006).
David Jones, n.d.
Aesthetic consistency is also seen within the McDonalds logo, as we identify the logo with food, the yellow ‘M’ looking like two chips bent together. The yellow and red colours are common within fast food chains, thus providing the relevant connotations. If the ‘M’ were to be in rainbow colours it would not be as appetising to eat at McDonalds. The label has functional consistency in that it is an ‘M’ which is easily identifiable amidst the red background. Internal consistency is evident within McDonalds, as we find burgers and fries. External consistency can also be found throughout the world, with other fast food outlets providing similar services, in particular Burger King (Smith & Bebak, 2006).
The ECU logo provides Aesthetic consistency with Earthy colours (Red, orange, white and blue), which are common theme amongst university logos and educational institutions. If the logo were to be pink, the students attending ECU may think that it will not be a serious learning experience. The ECU label has functional consistency in the letters “ECU” are easily identifiable, amongst the array of colours. Internal consistency is also evident, as we find lecture theatres, a library and tutorial rooms on the ECU campus. External consistency can be found throughout the world, with other universities providing similar services (Smith & Bebak, 2006).
Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic- Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 46). Massachusetts: Rockport
n.d. davidjones. Retrieved 18 May, 2010 from: http://techgeek.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/2006317davidjoneslogo.gif
n.d. ecu. Retrieved 18 May, 2010 from: http://www.education.ecu.edu.au/conferences/apdef/images/logos/ecu.jpg
n.d. mcdonalds. Retrieved 18 May, 2010 from: http://deadlinescotland.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/mcdonalds1.jpg
n.d. St. Peters Church. Retrieved 18 May, 2010 from: http://www.planetware.com/i/photo/st-peters-church-leuven-b196.jpg
Smith, B., & Bebak, A. (2006) Creating Web Pages for Dummies. Indiana: Wiley Publishing.
Spool, J. (2005, September 15). Consistency in Design is the Wrong Approach. Message Posted to: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2005/09/15/consistency-in-design-is-the-wrong-approach/