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I used to work for a software company that had a visualization product with several kinds of visualizations. One of the design philosophies was that all the visualizations had to have the same interaction model. Which of course made very little sense and artificially constrained the visualizations to the point that some of them were next to useless.

Customers liked the consistent interaction model for about the first 20 minutes, until they wanted to do something that was natural, but specific, for the visualization they were working with. When it turned out the product didn't and wouldn't ever support that thing they wanted to do, the entire house of cards came falling down.

Eventually we got rid of the person responsible for that decision and the product progressed rapidly and customer satisfaction (and sales) went up exponentially.

Consistent design is a very hard thing to get right, and very easy to get wrong. I think Apple under Jobs knew how to use consistency as a basic scaffolding for an application, but the actual details could still be quite app specific. The framework kept users oriented, but didn't dictate the functions of the software.




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