Website Design Consistency Builds a More Effective Interface and Improves Website User Experience
When your website's user interface is easy to understand and use, you build comfort and trust with your site's vistors. When you build comfort and trust, you are more likely to convert prospects into customers. A big part of making your site easy to understand and use is consistency.
Be Consistent from Page to Page
While you should always be sure the elements on an individual page are treated consistently, it's also important to maintain that consistency as the user moves from page to page. The understanding you build on one page is enhanced by giving the user a similar experience throughout the site. The way you handle information on one page is the way you handle information on every page.
Avoid inconsistencies in copy writing style. This includes grammar, for instance, but it also includes how you title and/or describe products and services.
- Don't refer to something one way on one page and then change the description on other pages.
- If you name a link or button, use that same name wherever that link or button is used.
- If you use title case on lists, use it on all lists.
- Put a title at or near the top of every page, not just on some pages.
- Use a book like the Chicago Manual of Style or others to develop and maintain consistent grammar.
The look of buttons and link text, descriptions, page titles and copy heads, etc. should all have an established and consistent look. When styles are used consistently, titles, heads and subheads can help to establish a hierarcy of information. This builds a visual identification, clueing visitors to look at certain areas or even certain words to find the most important information.
- If you use captions on some photos, use them on all photos.
- If links are in a box and colored blue on one page, they should be the same on all pages.
- Space headings and descriptions the same way throughout.
- Keep the location of major items such as navigation and pages titles in a consistent location on every page.
- Use cascading style sheets to keep the look consistent throughout your site.
The mechanics of the site should work the same way on all pages. Having rollovers or highlighted links on one page and then treating similar links differently on other pages, makes it much harder for visitors to grasp the workings of your site.
- Forms should all work the same way. If some forms are acknowledged when submitted, then all forms need to be acknowledged.
Never Forget the User's Point of View
It's easy when creating a site to want to add something different every now and then, thinking that it will make the site more interesting. But most of your visitors will be looking for something specific. If they don't find it pretty easily, they'll move on long before they get bored with your site.
If something is hard to use it doesn't get used very much.
Pick two things in this article that you can use to make your message easier for prospects to understand and act on and then use those two consistently throughout your site.