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Which is more important:

  1. Self consistency. In other words that the system works the same way for similar actions.

    This allows users to reason about the system.

  2. Or simplifying of each part so that they individually are as simple as possible.

    This offcourse can paradoxically make the whole system more complex because its not self consistent.

If you are in a situation where choices do either of these things which one do you choose and why? How do you motivate this to your clients, who often fail to consider the big picture and see only the immediate apparent effect?

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Your question seems complicated. Simply because BOTH of them are important. If my client wants only one I would give an example :

1) Self-consistency focus => Your interface won't attract new people. 10 years ago, it would have been ok. But today, in the digital world where everyone can sell something that looks like yours, it's not ok to avoid "Ease of use" as a whole. Your product will fail and you'll loose tons of money on that.

2) Simple UI focus => Being simple is closely related to the self-consistency. Simple is not "stupid", it's chosing in a "clean" way every things you can do. If your interface is not self-consistent, being simple won't save it from users doesn't understanding what's hapenning on the screen because "Yeah, there you say Payment and after it's Cash Out, is it different?". But still, being simple at first glance doesn't mean "No Deepness". According to some thoeries, to keep the user engage into something, you have to give him an activity related to his competency (Flow theory, CSÍKSZENTMIHÁLYI).

So, to me, there's no good answer to that. Either way, it'll be a fail. Do both, and you'll maybe suceed (but at least your UX will be great)

  • Yes, i know. But there are cases when you can not justify the cost of rewriting a piece of software from scratch is not possible. I would need to redesign 760 cases. One can not redo everything just because this one new feature is added. I know that in both cases this is a failure, just which fails less. Attracting new customers is hardly a problem in this case as this is one of the most widely deployed software in the world, it could sell more than it does, but not much youd run out of people. – joojaa Feb 8 at 12:58
  • In this kind of situation, if you have the number of people already in and the cost of doing both is too much, I would say to go for the Self-consistency thing. It'll bring you more value than doing the "Simple UI" since already a lot of people are already using it without dying. – Rhevan Feb 8 at 13:05
  • oOk but how do you motivate that this is a better option. I said it has a lot of users not necceserily that most users know how to use it ;). How do i know it gives more value? Yeah self consistency is my guess too. Even though its not very easy (mainly because self consistency requires the gui to li* ahem hide info from user) – joojaa Feb 8 at 14:54
  • You're hard on this one haha, but I love how you ask questions. Thank you very much for the exchange! I would say that being consistent mean that your users will be more easily driven to understand what you're saying along their journey (you could make video tutorial too, explaining each term and/or interaction possible). Making a simple UI meaning that... Everyone can use it fast, but not that the "ease of use" on the long run is good. (I mean, if you have a rectangular button and then a round one... You got it) Goal being : Getting your user better at what they do. Is this answer better? – Rhevan Feb 8 at 16:13

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