During the process of designing a user interface, many factors are taken into consideration to ensure the best experience is being provided for the end-user. A useful design method for achieving a quality user experience is the utilization of repetition. Repetition is important, because it creates consistency and rhythm throughout your website or application. With consistency across design elements, the look, the feel, etc., patterns are formed. The user can then draw associations and further understand how an interface will work based off of previous knowledge, or recognizing certain elements on your interface. Beyond functionality, repetition can be a useful tool to strengthen a message or guide a user through a website so they can achieve their goals. For example, a company may want to gain new clients, so they will increase ways the user can access the contact form.
Repetition can be seen in a variety of ways. At a very high-level, repetition in an interface can be seen when a designer uses the same header and footer on every page. This widely used form of repetition allows the user to know they are on the same site while navigating through pages. If each page had a different header, then the user has a likely chance of becoming confused.
Repetition can also be used in more strategic ways. Designers may decide to make all call-to-action buttons the same color or make all page headers the same font size. The similarities between elements will be obvious to the user, and they will likely pick up on them. If all buttons on your website are blue, a user will automatically know to look for a blue button to perform an action. It is also important to note that contrast can be an important part of repetition as well. For example, a designer may decide to make all positive buttons blue, such as buttons that go to a new page, send a form, or make a step forward in progression. In contrast, the designer may decide to make all negative buttons red, such as buttons that will go back in a process or cancel a task. Although the buttons are different colors, the repetition of association between the button’s color and its task still exist.
Although not a design standard, repetition can also be used by a designer to reinforce a certain message, or guide a user in a certain direction. If a designer wants to make sure the user can easily navigate to the company contact form, then the designer may provide multiple “contact us” buttons throughout the site to reinforce this task. Similarly, the designer may want the user to quickly learn about the company, and repeated messages across the site may help achieve this goal. For example, if an online store wants to promote their free shipping, the designer may decide to include this message in various places across the interface.
By utilizing repetition, designers can obtain consistent user experiences that not only help the user during their experience but to reinforce ideas as well. Users will recognize patterns throughout the site, and draw associations between colors, font sizes, shapes, and their meaning in your interface. It is important to make sure your users are never confused during their experience on your website or application, and through repetition, this can be avoided.
Various Things Live is a Website Design and Development Company based out of Chicago, Illinois.