This article discusses consistency with relation to usability and learnability. The author hypothesises that systems are both easier to use and easier to learn when the four different standards of consistency (aesthetic, functional, internal and external) are met. Aesthetic consistency is the consistency of style, creating membership groups and brand recognition, functional consistency is consistency of meaning which assists people in applying old skills to new products, internal consistency refers to consistency within the product and suggests well planned design and external consistency is consistency across multiple systems. These methods of consistency can be used to establish recognisable identity which can then be simplified in order to make products as easy to learn and use as possible.
In a world of rapidly advancing technology and social media making it easier for companies to gain recognition and expand overseas universal consistency can be useful in helping users to master new products. Global media has resulted in brand recognition, the associations customers may have with a brand, becoming increasingly important and it is understood that consistency within brands and logos incites trust in a consumer while inconsistency may result in discomfort (Bengtsson, Bardhi, & Venkatraman, 2008). Consistency in both branding (aesthetic consistency) and function (functional consistency) is crucial to building trust with a consumer, creating a relationship with them and potentially encouraging brand loyalty (Aggarwal, 2008).
Consistency, particularly internal consistency, may be achieved by a factor as subtle as positioning buttons in the same place and ensuring that they are consistently labelled (Anderson, McRee, & Wilson , 2010). Small consistencies such as that can help a user to feel more confident which will in turn ensure they have a more positive relationship with the product.
Although usability is difficult to truly define or measure consistency can increase both user performance and user satisfaction (Choong, Lin, & Salvendy , 1997) and it is very important for consistency of all varieties to be considered when designing or advertising a product.
Aggarwal, S. (2008). Brand Management: A Theoretical and Practical Approach. Global India Publications.
Anderson, J., McRee, J., & Wilson , R. (2010). Effective UI: The Art of Building Great User Experience in Software. O’Reilly Media, Inc.
Bengtsson, A., Bardhi, F., & Venkatraman, M. (2008). How global brands travel with consumers. Emerald Insight, 519 – 540.
Choong, Y.-Y., Lin, H. X., & Salvendy , G. (1997). A proposed index of usability: a method for comparing the relative usability of different software systems. Behaviour and Information Technology, 267 – 278.