Helen Bradley writes a lot about Web-site design at our sister site, Ecommerce-Guide.com. In this article, she discusses the importance consistency plays, and how you can actually lose customers if you don’t adhere to a few simple rules.
If you’re designing a Web site, you need to understand and adhere to one iron-clad rule: consistency is vital. You may think that consistency equals a boring design or a lack of imagination, but the opposite is true. It’s crucial design attribute and creating a site without it can lose you customers.
We all look for consistency in the world around us. Whenever you open a reference book, you expect the table of contents to be in the front and the index at the back. You have learned from reading books over the years that this is the pattern that books follow.
If you were to open a book and find the table of contents in the middle and the index at the front, you would be confused. You wouldn’t know how to navigate this book because the design breaks the rules that you have learned.
The same process works on the Web. Your visitors have learned certain rules about navigating shopping sites, and while it might be tempting to design a cutting-edge site that breaks all the rules, that kind of design will cost you visitors.
Visitors won’t be able to easily find what they want on your site. At best they will become disorientated and confused. Even worse, they may be angry because you’re wasting their time and making them feel foolish.
Consistency, like good spelling, just is. It doesn’t wave a flag, and it doesn’t say “look at me” — it just exists in the background making your visitors feel comfortable and at home.
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