Design consistency in UI and UX – and why it’s important.

consumers continue to depend on their smartphones and digital applications to satisfy their needs, businesses are constantly scrambling to stay on top. Whether it’s for better engagement or brand loyalty, a lot is at stake, since today’s business landscape is abundant with options to leave the average consumer spoilt for choice. As a business, how do you stand out? This is a broad question, no doubt. But from a design standpoint (and with the long-standing experience of being in the industry of software development in Sri Lanka) taking a deeper look into how users receive and engage with digital applications can provide a wealth of insight as to what you need to do next.

Many UI/UX features and components have long since been regularized to become the norm for conducting certain tasks. The X mark on the top right-hand corner being used to close a window is a great example. As users instinctively use such regularized features in order to navigate through an application to obtain what they need, design consistency focuses on providing a familiar environment for users.

What is design consistency?

In the world of UI and UX, design consistency can have a two-pronged approach. For one, it focuses on ensuring that all design elements within the application are uniformly laid out, with no irregularities in any area of the application. For example, if all wishlist buttons have been in red and at the bottom right, any buttons laid out differently from this formatting anywhere else creates a loss of consistency. On the other hand, using features and components that have been regarded as the norm to execute certain tasks by users provides a sense of familiarity and comfort, when using the application.

What are the benefits of design consistency?

As a cloud support services specialist, it is insightful to note that the functionality quotient of a digital application can have an impact across several different areas within your business. These include but aren’t limited to:

1. Your users feeling more comfortable with your app.

As users engage with an application that consists of UI/UX elements which have been commonly used for executing certain tasks, a sense of predictability, familiarity and comfort is established when navigating through the application.

2. Your business gaining trust from your users.

As users develop familiarity, comfort and subsequent ease of use via your application, they are more likely to rely on what you offer. In turn, this will retain them as loyal customers, especially since a level of trust has now been established through a digital presence that is intelligent and user-friendly. While gaining the trust and loyalty of your customers is imperative in any business, it is even more so, considering the prevailing consumer landscape. As increased digitization causes both businesses and consumers to flock towards digital applications, it is easy to fall behind from your competition. On top of that, customer abandonment is more commonplace, as the slightest lag can cause users to move on to the next option.

How can design consistency be established in any digital application?

1. Combining regularized design concepts with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) forms an ideal base for starters.

As with any software development endeavour, an MVP offers a timely release of a lighter preliminary version. Featuring only what’s essential, the MVP can then be enhanced based on user feedback, with newer components layered on only if they need to serve a purpose. As a result, this produces a digital application that only has features/components which are useful, instead of a complex first release that will consist of elements users may never need.

In the case of design consistency, necessary features that are well known to serve a particular purpose can be included to start with. As users get accustomed to the app, tracking this usage can reveal insights pertaining to what can be changed in the interest of improvement.

2. Enabling a design-centric product lifecycle with user-backed analytics.

Design consistency in any digital application needs to strike the right balance between regularized components and what’s unique about your business i.e. your specialties and branding. Adding the element of user feedback will further help you to understand what your users fundamentally need, and therefore create iterations to a product that already has a strong design foundation already set. This establishes an ongoing process to keep your application up-to-date.

As a result, your application will also stay on par with what is trending externally. Speaking of which, you may need to be flexible in terms of scalability, depending on factors such as seasonal demand or an uptick in users. Being an AWS partner, our experience has showed us that the right cloud infrastructure is essential to facilitate an ongoing product lifecycle, to complement every design improvement by maintaining smooth workflows sans any latency.

In a nutshell…

Design consistency focuses on using UI and UX components that users have instinctively associated certain tasks to, when using any digital application. Whether it’s a search bar on the top right-hand corner or 3 lines which indicate a main menu, many components like this now symbolize certain actions that users can now take to accomplish a key objective. On the other hand, maintaining uniformity across all areas of an application also constitutes consistency in design, so users aren’t caught off-guard with elements that don’t match what they’ve been accustomed to up until now.

The value of a well-functioning and impressionable digital application is paramount, no doubt. However, its importance multiplies in light of fierce competition amongst businesses across the digital space, and ubiquity in terms of options that are available for users to choose from. A consistent design within an application offers a digital presence that isn’t just easy to use, but also reliable to the point where one can return to obtain a product or service of need. Creating an MVP is a good starting point for UI/UX design consistency, as it can enable enhancements based on both user feedback and prevailing external factors.