CONSISTENCY OF DESIGN

A user-friendly product attracts consumers, welcomes continued use and enhances the experience

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Portfolio 2, Q. 1

Consistency within design creates a synergy within the product that enhances user-friendliness and allows for ease of application (Liddell et al., 2003, p. 46). Chen (2016, “Why Design Principles Shape Stronger Products”) reiterates the importance of design consistency, suggesting that it fulfils consumer expectations when using the product, that it creates a shared language, and that it enhances the learning experience.

Liddell, Holden and Butler (2003, p. 43) outline four types of design consistency: functional, aesthetic, external and internal.

Functional consistency exists when the design coordinates action and meaning (Liddell et al., 2003, p. 43). DiMarco (2010, ch. 2.2) illustrates how functional consistency incorporates where buttons are placed on a technology, such as the stop, pause and start button, and how online forms are designed that the consumer can navigate with ease, where the meaning of symbols and buttons are consistent, creating a more pleasant user experience.  

Aesthetic consistency relates to design image, its style and appearance (Liddell et al., 2003, p. 43). Bartuskova and Krejcar (2014, p. 241) highlights how aesthetic consistency will allow a consumer to quickly recognize a product and a brand, and elicits a desired emotion through its visual presentation. Furthermore, it creates a greater impact on a consumer’s motivation and their continued loyalty for using a product (Bartuskova and Krejcar, 2014, p. 241).

Internal consistency refers to the synergy of a system whereas external consistency points to the environment where that system operates (Liddell et al., 2003, p. 46). Tate (2012, “Investigating Cross-Channel Consistency”) illustrates the principles of internal and external consistency using the example of the Bank of America’s website. Transfers, bill pay and accounts are consistent categories on the website, delivering consistency across all channels of the organization. ATMs are a consistent feature across the banking ecosystem, delivering the same service with a consistent touch pad. Zuschlag (2010, ‘Achieving and Balancing Consistency’) cites a steam plant to illustrate external consistency. The colours of the valves remain the same throughout most steam plants. However, such consistency depends on culture, where colour symbols may change (Zuschlag, 2010).

 

Portfolio 2, Q. 2 (+ activity)

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The magazine, the stove and the computer reflect the principles of consistency.

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The magazine exhibits the aesthetic consistency in its design. The bright colours, the consistent font, the glossy images and the similar layout. The consumer can quickly identify the product and recognize its brand (Bartuskova et al., 2014, p. 241). Morrish and Bradshaw (2012, p. 163) reiterate the aesthetic consistencies of a magazine, highlighting how with each issue the cover format, the cover-line style and the typeface are consistent. However, Nice (2007, p. 47) points out that a magazine may demonstrate consistent branding internationally, but editors shape their product to the culture, reiterating the principles of internal consistency.

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The stove exhibits the principles of functional consistency. The temperature settings are designed for ease of use. The arrangement of the hot plates correlate to the designated knobs, allowing the consumer to turn on their chosen hot plate without undue mental effort. The temperature gauges are consistent, giving reassurance to the consumer. The direction for turning the knobs are also consistent. The symbols are clear without the need for extra-education.  However, Spinillo and Smythe (2013, pp. 442-443) examines user guides for stoves and concludes that the guides can sometimes defy functionality with overly complicated text. However, this is not a reflection of a stove’s functionality, but the readability of the user guide.

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The computer reflects the principles of internal and external consistency. The layout of the keyboard remains consistent among all systems, reflecting external consistency. The symbols and arrangement of keys remains the same. But the Acer brand shares the same opening page, reiterating its brand and sharing the same fonts and colours, highlighting the principles of internal consistency.  Shneiderman and Chimera (1995, p. 260) highlight how internal consistency for a product like a computer must rise to the expectations of the user, especially brand-driven consumers. Sage (1992, pp. 571, 572) focuses on the global requirements of a design, suggesting that narrowly focused designs inhibit such consistency. These global considerations are evident with a computer design, especially an international brand like Acer.

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REFERENCES

 

Bartuskova, Aneta & Krejcar, Ondrej (2014). “Design Requirements of Usability and Aesthetics for e-Learning Purposes.” pp. 235-246. Taken from Sobecki, Janusz; Boonjing & Chittayasothorn, Suphamit (eds.), Advanced Approaches to Intelligent Information and Database Systems. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Chen, Jessie (2016, August 23). “Why Design Principles Shape Stronger Products.” Uxdesign.cc. Retrieved from https://uxdesign.cc/why-design-principles-shape-stronger-products-ae677bdd831b

DiMarco, John (2010). Digital Design for Print and Web: An Introduction to Theory, Principles, and Techniques. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

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

Morrish, John & Bradshaw (2012). Magazine Editing in Print and Online. 3rd Ed. London & New York: Routledge.

Nice, Liz (2007). “Magazine Journalism: Targeting Print Publications to Reflect a Desired Audience.” Taken from Blumberg, Fran C., When East Meets West Media Research and Practice in US and China. UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 44-65.

Sage, Andrew P. (1992). Systems Engineering. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Shneiderman, Ben & Chimera, Richard (1995). “User Interface Consistency: An Evaluation of Original and Revised Interfaces for a Videodisk Library.” pp. 259-275. Taken Shneiderman, Ben (Ed.), Sparks of Innovation in Human-Computer Interaction. 2nd Edition. New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Spinillo, Carla Galvão & Smythe, Kelli C.A.S. (2013). “Beyond Comprehension: A Usability Study on User Instruction Manual for Stove.” Taken from Marcus, Aaron (ed.), Design, User Experience, and Usability: Web, Mobile and Product Design. Verlag Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.

Tate, Tyler (2012, December 21). “Investigating Cross-Channel Consistency.” UX Magazine. 926. Retrieved from http://uxmag.com/articles/investigating-cross-channel-consistency

Zuschlag, Michael (2010, July 19). “Achieving and Balancing Consistency in User Interface Design.” UX Matters. Retrieved from http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2010/07/achieving-and-balancing-consistency-in-user-interface-design.php

 

 

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