We can’t break consistency if we don’t understand our users. How can we break the rule without knowing why we break it?
In his article “Consistency in Design is the Wrong Approach”, Jared Spool argues that understanding users’ current knowledge is a better way to think about problems, as he said:
When you think about consistency, you’re thinking about the product. When you’re thinking about current knowledge, you’re thinking about the user.
Thinking about the previous quote, what is our goal? Designing consistent products or products that help people achieve their goals? It’s obvious.
Also, in NNG “The Power Law of Learning: Consistency vs. Innovation in User Interfaces” article, they provide us with a lot of insights about breaking consistency in our designs and how it relates to innovation.
They suggest three questions to ask yourself before breaking consistency:
1- Will the new design perform much better than the old?
2- Is it credible that users will be willing to try the new design again and again until they have learned it well enough to realize those long-term benefits?
3- Can you speed up learning?
As you see, you can’t answer these questions without knowing so much about your users’ knowledge and goals.