Let’s Talk UI Design: Heuristic 4, Consistency and Standards

Hello there, everyone!  Today we shall be talking more about Jakob Nielsen‘s fourth UI heuristic, Consistency and Standards. For this one, I’ll be using a new example than from my post before, and that is the one and only Google.

So, here’s what I spoke about before:

Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions”.

Don’t you dare use two different ways to describe one thing on the same screen!  BAD, BAD, BAD!  If your navigation item says “Portfolio”, then the page title should be “Portfolio”, the url should say “Portfolio”, and the browser tab should say “Portfolio”.

Okay, okay.  I know I was a little eccentric, but there’s a method to my madness!


Alright, so I’m pretty sure most of you recognize this website here.  Google displays an excellent example of this heuristic in play.  The name of the website is right in the middle of the page.  The tab in the upper left corner has the name of the website (Google).  Even the url displays the name of the website.  Everywhere you look, you know you are on Google.  Excellent, excellent use.

Now, why is this of importance?

Users hone in their goal.  Everything else is scannable.  Without clear consistency, users will become confused, frustrated, or lost.  People will focus on the information that relates to their goal, and scan across everything else.  One wrong design aspect along a user’s workflow can cause massive confusion for someone.  It’s already hard to know exactly where you are in an interface.  Do not generate even more confusion when you have the power to lessen it.  Keep it consistent.

Side note:  this is not the only place you can apply this heuristic.  If you have anymore examples please feel free to share!

——-User First, Designer Second——–     


7 thoughts on “Let’s Talk UI Design: Heuristic 4, Consistency and Standards

  1. I think you could have gone a bit more in depth with this one – about what standards and conventions to follow (I call them the language and grammar of the interface) and when to invent a new language.

    Also, a few more examples would have helped.


  2. I’m sad I didn’t think of using the Google homepage to analyze design heuristics. They constantly provide great examples.

    I’m curious though, which of the heuristics or principles are at play with the image you provided? Even just glancing at the image in place of the usual Google logo, a well-trained brain can quickly say, “That’s the Google homepage,” without needing any words. I wanted to say closure, originally. But I’m not sure that’s it. Familiarity?

    Are you insisting that because of Google’s use of consistency and standards that users can easily recognize the page?

    Good post!


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  4. Pingback: Let’s Talk UI Design: Heuristic 5, Error Prevention | Mad Hatter

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