Learning Portfolio 2, Item 1, Q2

The wrong cross is an example of aesthetic and functional consistency which is recognised across Western cultures as a symbol for wrongness. Not only is the symbol consistently used across educational practices, but it is also used in design, such as for webpages where it means to close the tab or window. The X is used as a strike-through symbol to indicate wrongness. This X is also used to check boxes on ballots, expanding its strike-through uses. This symbol has become well recognised across Western cultures where children and adults specifically know what it means. Asian cultures, however, also use this symbol to represent correctness, and so this symbol is consistent to them for different reasons.

Alarms are used in many societies and cultures to detect smoke and fires, and will alert residents of the danger with loud ringing sounds. No matter where the person is from, the purpose of the alarm is designed to shock and warn whoever hears it, and its specific sound is attached to danger. The design and purpose of these alarms are universal and have been for years, making it externally consistent and recognised by all.

A broad example of all types of consistency, being aesthetic, functional, internal and external, would be human beings. Humans are recognised since birth and beyond death, through the biological and anatomical structure that constitutes the human body. Despite diseases, disorders, abnormalities, and mutations that may occur, these are all additional to humans themselves. Despite differences in looks and the physical person, people are still familiar with the person as a human, as humans share 99% of DNA with each other. This biological consistency is how we recognise one another, because we realise we are similar in the way we live and the way we exist, and this consistency either unifies us or tears us apart.

Reference List
All-free-download. (2012). Red Cross X clip art [image]. Retrieved from

The Guardian. (2011). Public crowd [image]. Retrieved from

Shockwave Electrical Perth. (2012). Smoke Alarm Detector Electrician Perth [image]. Retrieved from


Learning Portfolio 2, Item 1, Q1

Consistency, a section written by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler and featured in Universal Principles of Design (2003), defines consistency as the parts of a design that are similar allowing the system to become more usable.

The authors identify four types of consistency used in everyday life and not only in design, namely aesthetic, functional, internal and external consistency. These types of consistency entwine with principles of design and systematic elements in the environment,  and they enable people to be able to learn quickly and focus their attention on relevant aspects.

Aesthetic design consistency, for example, exists within the program or the website and its use of typography and menus, that have the same uses and effects as each other to provide navigation and comfort for the user (Silver, 2004).

Similar to typography in aesthetic consistency, language as a broad term provides functional consistency and sometimes inconsistency (Laidlaw, 2013), where creating meaning and purpose through language requires questioning, challenging, mirroring, observing and inquiring (Baldwin, 2004).

Where Lidwell, Holden and Butler argue that consistency is key to a successful design, Nielsen (ed.) provides a checklist to ensure complete effectiveness, listing a simple design, a style guide, a call back code, a virtual interface, object-oriented programming and interface code generating tools (1989), and this internal consistency arrives through aesthetic and functional consistency (2003).

External consistency can be defined as the relationship between these three other elements of consistency, as to achieve external consistency with the environment, there must also be consistency within the system and its operation. This consistency can only be reached if the user is familiar and comfortable with the other elements.

Although this reading is an excerpt from a book about design, it is important to note that consistency is relative to everyday life, within our own minds and within our own actions. A lot of the norms and standards are met through consistent actions, and inconsistency is sometimes met with isolation and separation.

Reference List:

Baldwin, F., (2004). Creating meaning through language. Shambhala Institute. Retrieved from
Laidlaw, G., (2013, August 29). Why Consistent Language Matters. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Why Consistent Language Matters

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., Butler, J., (2003). Consistency. Universal principles of design. Massachusetts: Rockport.
Nielsen, J., (Ed.). (1989). Coordinating user interfaces for consistency. Boston, MA: Academic Press.
Silver, M., (2004). Exploring interface design. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.