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Principle of Consistency: Week 10

November 5, 2012

Question 1, week 10)

“Consistency enables people to efficiently transfer knowledge to new contexts, learn new things quickly and focus attention on the relevant aspects of a task” (Butler, Holden and Lidwell, 2003.)There are four types of Consistency, they include; aesthetic, functional, internal and external.


Aesthetic Consistency is basically how something consistently looks. For example, a television stations call sign (the little number in the bottom corner of the screen) it has been designed so that people know exactly what station they are watching, and can refer to it because it is always the same.


Functional consistency denotes what a specific action means. To apply functional consistency to everyday situations is pretty easy. Take a stop sign for example. The red sign that means ‘stop’ creates the action of traffic stopping in order to give way to traffic on coming. This part of the consistency principle is important as it enables people to gain a sense of how that thing works.


Internal Consistency is when elements in one system are consistent. For example, football team Guernsey’s. Every player in the team will wear the exact same colours so the fans can consistently identify which team is which. The team out fits must be also aesthetically and functionally consistent as it cultivates trust with people watching the sport.


External Consistency refers to elements with in the environment being the same. For example alarm sounds in a hospital need to be consistent so everyone working in the hospital knows exactly what is going on when they hear the alarm. This type of Consistency is hard maintain, however, by using functional consistency, the system can be simplified and will be easier to learn.


By combining all four types of consistency, systems can be designed in such a way that the people using the systems and the people observing them can relate and trust each system.


Question 2, week 10)

There are many different examples to explain the consistency principle, as it can be seen in almost every facet of our daily lives. Traffic Signs are a great one. Traffic signs are consistent all over Perth, aesthetically, functionally and externally. The signs need to look consistent so people do not get confused with the many different traffic rules we have. If only there were a ‘learn to merge’ sign for Perth drivers!



Another way we can apply consistency is through sport. Team uniforms, rules and regulations and the layout of the ground all need to be consistent. In Australian Rules Football, Aesthetic consistency can be applied to the uniforms of each team. They need to be consistent, as well as look good. If a team’s uniform looks ‘naff’ to its supporters then people will somewhat lose faith in their team. The rules and regulations can relate to functional consistency. The rules need to be the same so the competition can be consistent each year, eliminates any chance of cheating the system and also lets the spectators know what is going on.



Finally, Consistency can be applied to websites. A website can be applied to all four parts of the consistency principle. If the website is not aesthetically pleasing, people will quickly move on to another website that looks nicer. Websites need to be functionally consistent because if people find it to hard to figure out how to work the website, they will again quickly move on to another option. Once a website has gained aesthetic and functional consistency, Internal and External consistency will quickly flow on. People will immediately know how the system works as well as well as trust that the system will provide them with the specific needs and information that the system aims to provide.  






Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic‐Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 46). Massachusetts: Rockport.


From → Week 2

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