If you know Papyrus and Comic Sans are the equivalent of ketchup on steak, then…
Design works beyond just making that website you’re shopping on or that brochure in the lobby at your insurance agent’s office aesthetically pleasing. Design should be created with the goal of making whatever you’re browsing or reading simple to understand and follow. You’ll oftentimes see designers refer to this process as consistency.
When creating a consistent design keep these 7 areas in mind:
With recent moves towards cleanliness and simplicity, space will, more often than not, refer to the use of White Space. This refers to all the area included in your design that is blank, or white. Space also includes Padding and Margins — or the space between (below and above) the blocks of content on your design.
Using no more than three typefaces across your entire design will declutter the overall design. We recommend that you try to stick to just two: a Primary Font and a Complimentary Secondary Font will improve the legibility throughout your design.
Similar to typography, having a Primary Color as well as a Secondary Color will only further help tie the design together. You can even pull slight variations of shades from these two colors to create your design’s Palette. Be careful though, too many different colors can clutter the design — the opposite of what a consistent design wants to achieve.
Position, like space, has a huge role in the overall structure of your design. Position is composed of Hierarchy and Alignment. Hierarchy within position is how the components are organized. The most important content will live at the top of the design. For instance, the navigation bar on a website lives at the top of the page to facilitate browsing while the footer, with terms and conditions as well as private policies, will always reside at the bottom of each page. Alignment creates organization and balance between areas of content and body copy. For example: left justified vs. centered text. A good rule of thumb is to work within “invisible” guides that, when gone, the alignment and arrangement of items will be just as apparent.
Size goes hand-in-hand with the concept of Hierarchy first mentioned above. However, hierarchy within size is most clearly seen through copy. The most important call-outs, or headers, will be the largest in size and probably thicker in weight. Headers are followed in importance by subheaders, body copy and so on. Size can be seen in content as well. For example, a featured product image will be larger than the slider of “You May Also Like” product images at the bottom.
6. Graphic Elements
This category came from an observation of up and coming trends within design. For instance, you may want to consider adding Icons or different elements of Layering in your overall pattern.
Consistency is taking all of these areas and making sure that they are using the same Patterns of space, typography, color, position, size and graphic elements on the first page of a booklet, as well as on page 27. Although the urge in design is to be different and unique, having repetitive patterns within your overall design will create overall consistency. Patterns are not intended to make every page look the same, but rather meant to allow you to create freely without losing the user.
Why is consistent design important?
In brief, consistency is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also benefits the brand, the designer and the user. For the business, consistency can also be used interchangeably with the term “on-brand”. It creates a framework that you can continue to build upon, not outside of. For the designer, working within the framework of consistency is time efficient. It shortens the time of decision-making because most have already been made for you, and allows you to execute a beautiful and functional design quickly. Last but certainly not least, consistency in design translates to the user as simple and easy to follow. By eliminating confusion, it makes each new landing page or presentation slide predictable. Ultimately, consistency builds trust between the design and the user by making the viewer feel comfortable and engaged through the interaction.
Interested in reading more on graphic design? Check out these resources.