learning portfolio 2 – Q2

Q2. Consistency design examples

The English Tea Shop brand of teas provide a good example of design that is consistent both internally and externally.  Each tea has consistent design within it internally, but there are also enough similar elements used in each of the different varieties that the branding is still easily recognizable externally across varieties. They are easily identified as components of a whole, and this is consistency which “incorporates the visual flexibility to create identifiable regions and edges within the larger space” (Lynch & Horton, 2009, p. 98).  That is, the tea types are not exactly the same but are still recognizable and linked by certain consistent design choices.

tea smaller

Coca-Cola has consistent branding across their products. Lynch and Horton note, “there is a paradox at the heart of consistency: if everything looks the same, there are no edges. How can you tell where you are or when you have moved from one space to another?” (Lynch & Horton, 2009, p. 98).  The answer is keeping a consistent design profile whilst tailoring small details to indicate difference.  For coke cans and bottles, each design is essentially the same, with colour indicating whether it is regular, diet or zero, and a font change for the ‘diet’ or ‘zero’ part.  The difference in products is instantly recognized by consumers, but always as a difference of product types within one brand.



Another example is public signage. Signs need to be simply and easily, if not instantly understood, especially if there is potential danger, or they are road signs which will be read whilst driving past.  The red circle and crossed line are universally and consistently used to indicate that something is forbidden.  This means that the learning curve for what a sign means is very small. This consistency of design allows for very effective usability and learnability.


learning portfolio 2 – Q1

Q1. Consistency

Consistency is a “cornerstone of good design” (DiMarco, 2011, p. 51).  Lidwell, Holden and Butler contend that consistency in design makes systems easier to learn and use, with consistent repetition of stylistic elements allowing users to “efficiently transfer knowledge to new contexts, learn new things quickly, and focus attention on the relevant aspects of a task”  (Lidwell, 2003, p. 46).  They go on to explain the four types of design consistency, aesthetic, functional, internal and external.

Aesthetic consistency refers to repetitive visual signifiers of a concept.  One example of aesthetic consistency is  corporate branding, where “Companies use the same color, fonts, and icons throughout their marketing materials (brochures, packaging, signage, etc.) to create a consistent experience for the customer through recognition and association” (DiMarco, 2011, p. 51).

Functional consistency helps to improve usability and learnability. For example, in web design “Users are not impressed with complexity that seems gratuitous, especially those users who may be depending on the site for timely and accurate information.” (Lynch & Horton, 2009, p. 106).  Thus in many cases functionality is achieved through the ‘shortcut’ of consistent design choices.

Internal consistency is the logical grouping and repetition of elements within a system. When creating a website, “For example, users will associate a particular color on your website as the “link color,” they’ll come to recognize the typeface of your body copy, etc. Therefore, being consistent in these areas will not only contribute to a great-looking design, but it’ll also provide a more familiar experience for users.” (T. Smith, 2010)

External consistency is extending internal consistency across different systems or components. For example, “If designing a number of items for the one event or business, they should all share a common look … you should share design elements between each” (M. Smith, 2014)

Consistency should be considered in all aspects of design, in order to create recognizable identities for the brand or system, and to make the user experience of a system simpler and easier to learn.



DiMarco, J. (2011). Digital Design for Print and Web : An Introduction to Theory, Principles, and Techniques. Hoboken: Wiley.  Retrieved from http://ECU.eblib.com.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=537330

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Universal Principles of Design.

Lynch, P. J., & Horton, S. (2009). Web Style Guide. New Haven, US: Yale University Press.

Smith, M. (2014). The Principles of Graphic Design: How to Use Repetition Effectively. Edgee.  Retrieved from http://www.edgee.net/the-principles-of-graphic-design-how-to-use-repetition-effectively/

Smith, T. (2010). Consistency: Key to a Better User Experience. UX  Booth.  Retrieved from http://www.uxbooth.com/articles/consistency-key-to-a-better-user-experience/