Daily UX Crash Course — User Psychology: 26 of 31

Designers often believe: a design that is the same everywhere is automatically better than a design that isn’t. Not true! Consistency has a function. So today we will learn about:

Consistency & Expectations


(Just starting the User Psych Crash Course? Start here.)


Consistency is the idea that a design looks the same from page to page, or device to device, or user to user.

And in general, it’s a good thing.

When I log in this time, I expect a site or an app to be the same as last time. It helps me find the menu, navigate to things I like, and quickly skip the fucking advertising at the beginning.

Branding-wise, it also helps me recognize the company, trust the content, and know that I came to the right place.


Patterns require consistency

A brain is a pattern-recognition machine. It is designed to experience something once, and then be better at doing the same thing again.

That is why the menu should be in the same place on every page/screen, colours should indicate warnings and importance the same way everywhere, and why you will not ignore the sock on the doorknob of your parents’ room next time.

Consistency creates expectations. When the user expects something, and you give it to them, that’s good usability.


Consistency is a tool. Not a rule.

If I slap you in the face, you will flinch the next time I raise my hand. You expect me to bring the thunder again.

If you want the user to expect the same thing, design it the same way. But often you don’t want that.

Your app and your website do not have to look exactly the same. You click one and swipe the other, so differences can communicate that difference.

One user is very unlikely to use your app on an Android phone and an iPhone at the same time — for example — so if the features of those devices create different approaches, fine!

A landing page, a home page, and a check out have different goals, so don’t worry that they look different. They should!


Tomorrow we will learn about the dark side of UX, and how you can use it for good, instead of evil: Anti-UX