Today when we have infinite number of websites to our influence, a consistent professional web design is something getting extinct as the time flies away. Having a consistent website design not only adds usability to the website but assist in improving the user experience, as a result of which you have lower bounce rates, returning visitors and many more advantages to name. This article is about how a consistent design can play a vital role in improving website usability and offer a pleasant user experience.
What do we actually mean by consistency?
A website is considered consistent when all its basic elements do not vary too much from one page to other and offer a similar experience to the visitor when he/she surfs from one page to other. With time, internet users have lost patience as they now have infinite number of websites to visit, which is why consistency is something that can help any website in retaining target audience on a website.
As I mentioned in the beginning, maintaining consistency throughout your website or blog design assists in improving the user experience. Consistency indirectly adds to the accessibility quotient of a website and aids search engine optimization too. Due to a uniform and a pleasant user experience on your website, the visitors will be staying for a longer. Hence, the bounce rate will be very less as they will be visiting other web pages too. Perhaps, some bloggers may mention your website name and link on their blog too. It may not always be the home page where the visitor is landing or is interested in, which is why having a pattern and regularity is vital for your website.
Basic elements of usability on a website
- Company logo on top of every web page
- Smooth and consistent navigation
- Main navigation on the top portion of the web page
- Lower portion of the web page should consist of secondary navigation
- Search function for better usability
- Consistent font type and size
- Consistent content
- Consistent graphics
- Consistent HTML map
Why website consistency is important?
If all the minor as well as major elements present on different web pages of a website are consistent, then this presents the website in a much professional manner. Imagine your visitor’s reaction when all of a sudden he witnesses an entirely different page from the earlier one. Mixed reactions often end up in a big confusion and of course being a service seeker; I would never prefer a service provider whose website is confusing me! The best way to bring a professional feel in a website design is to keep things simple and straightforward because that’s what we professionals do. Avoid the use of excessive bright colors, perhaps it is better to keep the number of colors used in a website to a maximum of four. Similarly, number of fonts used in a single website should not be more than two. Introducing variations with the intensity and size of the font used is a major respite but colors and font style are something that a visitor gets familiar with much quickly.
Visitors’ Learning Curve
Not many have noticed that every visitor has his or her learning curve during the time spent on a respective website. After the learning curve, a user or a visitor is well versed with the functionalities of a website and hence their user experience keeps on improving. On the other hand, if the website elements keep changing every now n’ then, a visitor will prefer the other website which seems much easy on his learning ability. In order to avoid situations like these and to keep the learning curve as short as possible, it is better to keep menus and buttons of same color, size and order. Improving consistency and User Experience
I think most of us would be familiar with a page that reads ‘404 Error-Page not found’, reason being a user must have followed an incorrect link to your website. There are times when a web master has renamed a web page, and forgot to add a 301 permanent redirect instruction in .htaccess file. Therefore, the best way to guide a user in such cases will be to offer a custom 404-error web page.
Font plays a pivotal role in maintaining consistency of a website, which is why font type and size are something that a web master needs to keep in mind. The font-family in the cascading style sheet should be kept universal and that includes throughout the website pages. Web master while editing the content in HTML editor often forgets about the association of the website design with the CSS file, which is why the fact regarding changes going live remain untouched. Another area where inconsistencies occurs the most is the font-size element in the CSS file and a web master should consider editions in the CSS file itself rather than making amendments via HTML editor.
Graphics are the website elements that define the look and feel of the website, which makes them one of the most important elements to a coherent website. If you have certain additional graphics apart from the website design then I would suggest you to keep them similar to the original design. The key to consistency in case of additional graphics is that they should not seem to be an add-on, but a part of the website graphics. The best way to ensure graphical consistency is to hire one designer to do all your artwork and image.
Quick Tip: “Follow a single color scheme to get a professional look and avoid shiny and flowery stuff in your graphics.”
Consistency with Alt Text
Yes, the use of Alt texts can surely improve the consistency level of your website and thereby improve user experience. Alt texts normally appear when a user has a slow internet connection or a user is planning to save his internet data usage.
Consistency with Website Links
Links within the website are the best way users move within your website, however, they also happen to be the best way one can improve website consistency. Make sure the links are a stand out when it comes to visibility and besides that your links should be easily visible to a visitor. Links present within the website have to be descriptive and attaching just a ‘Click this’ is something that can be considered as Old fashioned. Adding a descriptive sentence to the link is the best way to let a user know ‘what the link is actually about?’
Quick Tip: “Internal Links are also useful in improving search engine visibility.”
Consistency with Content
There is a world of difference between reading content in a book and reading stuff on a website! However, similarity in both the aspects is that a user before starting off with the reading, scans the page in advance to make sure whether the content is worth reading or not. No matter how informational you are sounding but compressing the valuable data in a single page will make things seem dull to a reader. Hence, proper use of white space between the content is necessary. Information on the website should be clearly defined by formatting the content into Heads and Sub-Heads. Moreover, text alignments on every page should be a standard same to make reading a much less troublesome affair.
Quick Tip: “The six heading tags available should always be utilized in the hierarchical order so that the web page becomes SEO friendly and well accessible for a user.”
Finally, better consistency will obviously lead to improved usability and ultimately this will lead to increased return on investment.
Featured image credit : Shutterstock