Tips for maintaining visual consistency in your UI designs
An attractive and well-functioning interface is highly dependent on visual consistency. On the Flaticon blog, we often talk about the importance of consistency in icon use. Visual consistency brings personality and implicit messages to each UI design.
You’ll come across all kinds of projects during your career as a UI designer. Regardless of size, content or industry, the common thread you’ll find in each will be visual consistency.
If you join an established company, your UI designs must follow a style and branding guide. But if the project is new or not linked to a brand, you’ll still need to create a visual identity that represents the message and purpose of the project.
This guide will share the fundamental elements that will help you create and maintain visual consistency in all your designs.
Designs convey emotions through the use of color. Equally important is how all the other elements relate to them. When you design for a brand, they’ll already have an established color palette, but you will still need to create hierarchies for use in the interface.
A UI design palette shouldn’t have too many colors, as this will impact usability – between 2 and 5 colors maximum is okay. However, you can experiment with the shades of the base colors to create texture or depth.
In a three-color palette, one color serves as the primary color, the second is less important and the third should only be used for a few minor touches. Create a guide with rules for color use, for example, by assigning one color to one type of button and another color for all links within the text.
When no branding work has been done, choosing the palette takes a fair bit of work. Establish the interface’s product, purpose and strategy before deciding on a color palette.
In mobile UI design, using subtle fonts without many dramatic elements is always the most effective. The fonts you choose should be easy to read and to include within buttons and text of various sizes.
Web UI offers more freedom for creativity in fonts because there is more visual space to play with. Even so, it’s always best to use fonts that any device can display, as fonts sometimes don’t load as you would imagine.
The font combination should have a clear visual and operational hierarchy. Be consistent in your use of fonts. If an H2 title is in one font, it’s better to apply this same rule to all H2 titles. This is how fonts influence visual consistency.
The visual alignment of elements in the interface should be consistent across all views or screens of the application or web page. Margins are the spaces surrounding the visual content. They provide the air between elements or the visual framing for a screen.
For example, on the Flaticon blog we have a margin that marks the maximum width of the interface, and then we apply another margin to the textual content of the blog. The idea is to use the margin as a marker for size and composition. When the margin isn’t defined, it changes the interface’s visual message, making it more abstract. Margins provide a concrete visual path to the content within your interface.
Margins are a help, but supporting grids are even better. A grid is a set of vertical and horizontal lines that separates a space into squares of the same size. In turn, these lines can create a composition of columns to align all the elements in the interface.
The most common grid in UI design is the 8-point grid. The 8-point grid was created during the rise of mobile applications. When seeking visual consistency between Apple and Android systems, an agreement was reached to recommend that designers use the 8-point grid.
All the elements mentioned in this guide could form part of a design system. Often your interface design is part of a larger project involving many screens or pages of interaction. For a project like that, it’s best to implement a design system.
A design system is a versatile, reusable, and editable tool that helps teams design asynchronously while maintaining visual consistency. With a design system in place, you’ll have no problem maintaining visual consistency, as that’s its main purpose.
Use your Figma account and Flaticon UIcons to create effective, high-quality design systems.