Summary: Providing consistency needs to be number one on our website design to-do list. Consistency is the largest factor that separates a negative website experience from a positive one.
Website visitors don’t want to figure out how our website works. They just want to find what they are looking for. Consistent design enables this to happen.
Our job is to be preemptive and understand what they need, before they ever arrive. How can we encourage them to stick around and read more?
One of the primary ways is be consistent with our website elements. Carrying the same layout styles from page to page erases questions, does not require any learning, and makes the visitor feel at ease.
What makes a website consistent?
- Does it use the same colors throughout?
- Consistent vertical and horizontal spacing between elements?
- Headings consistent throughout the site?
- Is navigation in the same place throughout?
- Text links the same color throughout?
- Do button elements look the same throughout?
Repeating Layout Styles
Here’s the number one consistency choice and it works on sizes of websites.
We need to repeat elements across all our pages, but with of course different content and graphics.
Repeating layout style allows our visitors to feel comfortable and this is what we should be going for.
Consistency makes sure visitors do not have to learn new actions on different pages. Sound easy, then way are there so many professionally designed websites that lack this basic aspect of consistency?
Example – Xfinity by Comcast Corporation. On their website each time a visitor goes to another page the menu system is different, requiring a huge amount of learning. This inconsistent design choice adds stress and anxiety to the experience.
Visitors arrive with explicit expectations. This doesn’t come as a surprise and since we know this wouldn’t it be logical so see if we’re causing confusion when we alter design standards from page to page.
Confusion is guaranteed when design style is inconsistent. When we our design gets in their way, it’s understandable they can feel confused, frustrated or even angry.
There is no mystery, confusion leads to frustration, and frustration leads to a subpar user experience.
Consistency makes navigation easier, period. If we change navigation from page to page, visitors will get lost.
- Have an obvious navigation bar in the exact same place on every page of the website.
- Typically this navigation bar lives at the top of the page or on the right hand side.
- Provide a search bar that’s accessible on every page
Consistency is number one of the list for improving visitor usability and peace of mind. A calm satisfied visitor will stick around on our website longer.
However, if we try to be tricky instead of clear we’ll have a frustrated confused visitor and guess what? They leave, never to return.