Learning Portfolio 2- Question 1: Summary

Q1)In your own words, write a summary of the article and provide critical analysis/discussion on the topic of the article.

 There are four main kinds of consistency—Aesthetic, functional, internal and external. Consistency is when similar items are used in similar ways, and thus gains our familiarity and trust. Humans naturally work better with a system—and in this case, consistency. Consistency measures what we are comfortable with. Simply put, “Consistency becomes something like a promise that you make to the user.” (Cole, 2012).

As Jonathan Grudin explains in The Case Against User Interface Consistency, although we rely on consistency for intricate designs, even more familiar consistency can be found in the kitchen. We know exactly what utensils like knives do and where they go in the drawers; they’re so consistent that we don’t even need to think about how to use them, as we’ve been using them repeatedly all our lives. To us, consistency is our familiarity with our surroundings.

Consistency helps us find our way around places. We know that if we’re lost—be it in an airport, a park, or on the motorway—just look for signs. Signs are Internally consistent—we know that they have been carefully designed so that we don’t become lost with no way out of it.

It is especially found on websites, as quoted in Web Design Introductory, “You can create visual consistency by repeating design features—type face, content position, colour scheme across all pages at a site. Repeating design features and content… strengthens a web pages identity and bran, and maintains visual consistency.”

When things become inconsistent, it becomes a problem for us. If for example, an iphone app updates with a new layout, then we have to learn how to use the app all over again, and for a lot of people, this creates confusion, while when things are consistent, we don’t have to think too much for ourselves, and it creates a safe boundary—consistency is already doing half the work for us. Shaping Web Usability: Interaction Design in Context explains that placing elements consistently helps users recognise the consistency, and from there, benefit from it by transferring this knowledge to other contexts. (Badre. A, 2002).

Most of all, consistency helps us learn. Consistency is constantly allowing people to transfer their experience into new innovations; it allows faster learning, especially when similar items have similar ways of working. (Lidwell, 2015).


Badre, A. (2002). Shaping Web usability. Boston: Addison-Wesley.

Cole, D. (2012). Why is consistency important in design?. Quora. Retrieved from


Grudin, J. (1989). The case against user interface consistency. Commun. ACM, 32(10), 1164-1173.


Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic‐Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of

Design (pp. 46). Massachusetts: Rockport.

Lidwell, W., Butler, J., & Holden, K. (2015). The pocket universal principles of design. Beverly, MA:

Rockport Publishers.

Shelly, G., & Campbell, J. (2012). Web design. Boston, Mass.: Course Technology, Cenage Learning.


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