Consistency Q1


“Great design is invisible because it is consistent and familiar” (Toscano,2016)

This weeks topic post is on consistency.“Consistency in design is about making elements uniform – having them look and behave the same way.” (Spool, J. 2005). By making a design consistent, you are making it easier for the consumer/user to navigate the object or technology. That way we can easily transfer knowledge we have acquired from one design to another.”We are socialised to understand our experiences. Any intuitive design is simply a combination of signifiers and affordances we’ve come to understand from previous experiences.”(Toscano,2016).

There are four kinds of consistency, which are the following; Functional, internal, external and aesthetic.

“Functional consistency refers to consistency of meaning and action” ( Lidwell, et al. 2003) By leveraging peoples existing knowledge, functional consistency enables people to grasp quite quickly and efficiently, how to use the particular object or technology, otherwise known as learnability and usability. For example the consistent use of symbols on technology makes new devices easier to use!

Internal consistency refers to the consistency with other elements in the particular system. “internal consistency cultivates trust with people” ( Lidwell, et all. 2003) An example of this is park signs, we all know them and know what they mean! This is internal consistency in every day life.

External consistency refers to the degree in which something is consistent with regards to something other than itself,such as security are consistent across a floor, building, or residence. External consistency will increases the benefits of internal consistency across many independent systems (Lidwell, et all. 2003).  It should be noted that this is much more difficult to achieve as different systems rarely have the same design standards.

Basically internal is consistency within the product whilst external is with relation to another product. Jared Spool states that you must ask yourself, “Will the user’s current knowledge help them understand how to use what I’m designing?” (2005). This is an aspect that if considered and used correctly and efficiently can make a huge difference in your design and how people effectively use it.

Last but not least aesthetic consistency refers to consistency in appearance and style ( Lidwell, et all. 2003). A well known example of this would be a companies consistent colour and logo such as the Nike tick. Aesthetic consistency increases recognition, communicates membership between followers, and sets expectations with the brand or company. This means that you are familiar with a brand, you see that Nike tick and automatically assume and expect high quality and up to date style trend, or even a trend setting style! Once you expect these things from a brand you are more likely to carry on using it because you are comfortable with it.

Simply put, a designer should consider and include all four principals of consistency as it establishes an identity, makes us feel comfortable, makes recognition easier and simplify the process of learning to use or using the devices/system.


Levinson, D. & Schlatter, T. (2013). Visual usability. Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers is an imprint of Elsevier.

Lidwell, Holden, & Butler,. (2003). Aesthetic Usability effect.

Spool,. (2005). Consistency in Design is the Wrong Approach » UIE Brain Sparks. Retrieved 16 May 2016, from

Toscano, J. (2016). The value of consistent design – InVision Blog. InVision Blog. Retrieved 16 May 2016, from