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If it's not clear what visitors have to do to get the information they want, they will leave. The more time your visitors have to spend working at how your site behaves the less time they will have your content. Consistent design means having the same response whenever people perform an action. For instance, every time they click a text link they should see another page, not a pop-up dialog, a video, or some other unexpected action. Navigation menus should always contain the same items. It's fine to open a submenu but not to hide the main menu that lets visitors move between the major areas of your site. Without that navigational consistency visitors won't be able to work out where they are on the site and how to get to other areas they care about.
The same is true of wording you use on the site. Although, it's tempting to break out a thesaurus and find different names for items just to break the monotony. Visitors to your site are relying on that consistent naming to know where they have been, and what areas to explore next. Calling a feature of Forum in one location and the Den or Chatroom in another place on the site will make people wonder whether they are going to see the same thing when they click on those different links. Consistency pays off. Once visitors have learned how your site works they will be able to turn their focus to your content. Consistent design means they can learn faster and apply the knowledge to new areas of the site.
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