A Consistency Inspection is a method of combing through an interface for stylistic consistency. This inspection becomes necessary when multiple design efforts have resulted in inconsistencies in display and functionality. If a company acquires a new product that requires integration, or if multiple team members have worked on the same product independently, these inconsistencies and deviations from brand standards can stack up.
Consistency is a contract with the user promising that, once the user has learned a product’s functions and where to find them, these will remain consistent until the user completes their tasks. Breaking that contract without thoughtful consideration can decrease trust, increase user frustration, and diminish usability.
The inspection team should consist of designers, developers, and product managers with UX experience. If your team lacks UX expertise, inspection results will be largely arbitrary and thus not actionable.
SCHEDULE TIME & GATHER MATERIALS
Time Needed: 1 – 2 Days
Access to style standards
CARRY OUT THIS METHOD
Create a spreadsheet list of design elements that need to be checked for consistency, including icon usage, fonts, and colors.
In the spreadsheet, for each product or design section, note which elements conform, which do not, and which elements require a new style. (It is important to create a spreadsheet to document findings from multiple reviewers.)
When finished with the inspection, prioritize the list based on several criteria: ease of change, impact on usability, impact on conversion.Prioritization will likely require digging into analytics, search logs, and Voice of Customer feedback to determine the impact of a design element on both usability and business objectives.
Report findings to stakeholders for a decision. This will require the creation of a presentation document with visuals.
Update the Style Guide or Style Framework as needed. If you don’t have standards documents, consider the value of creating them for your organization.
TIPS AND RESOURCES
Try these tips
The Consistency Inspection should be objective and non-judgmental. All designers make compromises or concessions to meet deadlines, and sometimes design decisions are made with inadequate information.
Consider making a Consistency Evaluation part of every design project.