In today’s tech savvy world, services and offers are just a click away. People have become accustomed to the large array of content available to them in platters through the internet. A slight hitch or change in content in any of the usual shopping or blogging sites immediately results in a deep frown. Such is our dependency and familiarity with the cyberspace.
As browsing has become a more common hobby among the populace, creating familiar websites becomes a more daunting task than creating attractive ones. Even web designers are now strugglimng to design and develop website for those people who just want to start their personal blog. When users encounter a new design, they are armed with prior experiences alone and thus make snap decisions. So the decision to stay or leave is made on the basis of how familiar a website appears. Maintaining visual consistency, thus, has become a requisite in web designing.
- Understanding intuitions
Attractive and uniquely designed websites do not ensure a good flow of traffic. The moment people encounter unfamiliar symbols and designs, they are clouded with an unpleasant intuition of navigating through something dull and more complicated. Maintaining consistency on pages prevents users from having to learn or re-learn new functions. Consider patterns like the magnifying glass meaning “search,” or a right-facing triangle meaning “play.” These explain visually how to use the feature, without having to explain, or the user having to learn something new.
- Easy communication
Flawless designs enables the users to access the website content easily. Good designs manipulates the users’ visual flow and gives them a sense of calm and control, whether unconsciously or not. Achieving visual consistency can help you to priortise your website content so that the users can have an easy look at the most attractive content you would like to offer. A website that evokes emotion has better chances of users holding on to them for a longer time.
- Consistency in content
Maintaining consistency in content is as important as design consistency. The content should reflect and compliment the idea behind your website. It should be consistent in mood, tone, quality and quantity.
- Thankless but creates a lasting impression
Visual consistency is a thankless feature of web designing. People would not acknowledge but would notice only when it is absent. But as research says it takes only about 50 milliseconds for users to judge your website. Visual interactions are therefore the strongest and the most lasting ones. So neat consistent designs helps establishing a visual spark with your users and also looks more credible and professional.
Certain golden rules to be followed while maintaining visual consistency:
- Do not make drastic changes in typography, icons, element placements, and established patterns giving the impression of disorganisation and laziness.
- Maintain consistent vertical and horizontal spacing between elements in the layout.
- Maintain consistent website headings throughout the site.
- Consistently show navigation menus in the same place throughout the website.
- Maintain text links of same color throughout.
- Ensure that the website icons are of the same family.
- Form elements (text inputs, select lists, submit buttons etc) must look the same throughout the website.
We are largely governed by our sense of sight and a majority of our perceptions are based on our visual experiences, more profoundly on a sub conscious level. Therefore, maintaining visual consistency throughout your website ensures reception of content by users in the manner you intend to convey. Providing a hassle free navigation will free up their focus on what is important and what’s not.