IxD Through Mixology, Chapter 5 Consistency Matters

At the end of May I presented at MidwestUX in Columbus, Ohio on Interaction Design Through Mixology, and how our careers mirrors a hobby of mine. Many topics were covered and much delayed I am going into detail on many of them. Now to discuss consistency.

In Mixology

A rum and coke, vodka tonic, or mimosa. All fairly straightforward drinks. Order at one bar in New York and it tastes like one ordered in Miami. Drinks of a certain name have a consistent taste. Order something more complicated, or a house special and the cocktail might not be available globally. Return to the same bar week after week and the cocktail should taste the same. Every time. The drink should be consistent.

When bartending, I cannot make the same drink a dozen different ways – that is a dozen different drinks. Instead, a drink should be reproducible. It’s flavor’s should be predictable for return customers. This provides insight to the cocktail’s strength, flavors, and food pairings.

In Design

Consistency in design is equally important. Button placement should be in a consistent position. Language and workflow should happen in a consistent manner. Build expectations and use those to benefit the design by growing on established paradigms. Do not start from scratch and do not design ten different forms within a single application when one consistent layout is available.

So What?

A cocktail should not be different just for the sake of making something unique. And an interaction should not break the mold only to stand out. Differences should be used to enhance a design, not to obstruct it. House variations on the Bloody Mary do more than brand awareness, they expand on an existing paradigm. Good design similarly builds on expected models. This is not a license to be boring. Still innovate. Push the boundaries of a product to provide momentum to the design problem and don’t be different for the sake of being different. Don’t just add noise to the design.

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