Design Language: The Power of Consistency
Creating a digital experience that features consistent elements throughout is a core principle in successful design. Consistency is a critical component of user experience design, content strategy and user interface design that promotes intuitive experiences. When design elements feature consistency in both their look and feel as well as functionality, users can move about the interface with an ease of use, allowing them to focus on executing the task and not learning how the product UI works every time they switch the context.
Making your website intuitive is often translated by website owners as simplifying your website. However, it goes way beyond that. While simplicity is part of it, you want your users to easily ‘get’ how to use your website. Things like organizing your navigation menu, providing breadcrumb links, and using graphics/color to distinguish interactive elements are all good examples of making your website intuitive.
A visual hierarchy should be established, along with the wire framing process. Visual elements such as color, typography, color, grid, spacial positioning, padding and margins should be arranged with a similar treatment. These elements should be outlined in a brand standard guidelines and implemented across the system.
If working with a multiple page interface, ensure that all pages use the same navigation model. Keeping the layout consistent cannot be emphasized enough. Grid the design so it does not shift from page to page and remains a solid constant as a user moves throughout the experience. If designed well, this will create a heightened level of conversion as a user feels comfortable to move about the site freely, always knowing they can get back to a main home point.
Along with consistent visual elements, make sure contextual language remains similar throughout in the same tense and tone (humorous, informational, friendly, etc). Maintaining the same layout, voice, look and feel throughout your entire website and mobile design (e.g. keeping significant buttons in the same spot on the page), will greatly maximize usability and clarity.
Your readers should expect consistency in the quality of what you produce, the way you communicate to them, the way some of your content is structured, and the personality that communicates with them on a regular basis. Chances are that people will come back because they liked what you were giving them and want more of it.