This morning I came across a great article on Overdesign for IPHONE applications. While the article focuses primarily on new IPHONE design the same holds true for all aspects of UI Design. Consistency is your key to a usable application.
When you examine say Norton,or Adobe products, the consistent design allows the user to quickly locate and find your way around other different tools in the suite. Furthermore; if you are going to push a consistent product brand your design needs to fall within the expect mental model.
If a stop sign said GO would you know to stop? If the color changed would you know to stop? The same is true for your application. If you as the UI designer changed your cancel and your ok buttons around, would the user be able to predict the next screen interaction?
In the end it comes down to the customer experience. Yes, you still want your application to have that “wow” factor, but don’t sacrifice the “wow” for the now. That is to say don’t interrupt me by changing something I’m used to. And if you DO MAKE ME THINK. You better make damn sure the application is and will continue to be worth my time and money.
Fighting The Brains Trained Responses
Take a look at how hard Bing is working to remove the image of google from our heads. When you think search most users automatically think GOOGLE. When you think Tissue most users think Kleenix.
A consistent application UI can be a powerfull tool when trying to associate your interface with a particular word or phrase. Attaching an easy to recognize and predictable interface is your key to promoting your brand. Without it your just holding up a green stop sign.