Full Version: Advice On The Look Of Forms In A Database
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I haven't had any formal training so my ways of doing things are sometimes not the norm. I wonder if anyone could guide me to some sites that talk about or give advice on the look of forms in a database.
I have a good start on a database where the main aim is to keep track of the amount of a certain product left in a storage bin. This involves entering a record for each load of product purchased, a record for each Work Order to track the amount of the product used. With just a little more information the database can produce Invoices.
The 5 tables needed are: Company, Work Orders, Invoices, Customers and Supplies.
On the forms only the last 4 have a custom Navigation bar to move through recordsets to add, edit or delete records. I am using Tab controls to switch between forms so my first question is how important is it for the 4 main data entry forms to have the same look?
What 4 of the main data entry pages have in common is I like to include a list control showing a list of records the user can click on to display, so 3 of the 4 pages each have from 3 to 8 controls lined up vertically on the left, then on the right is a list box.
The 4th page also has a list box but the data entry controls are arranged to match the look of the handwritten Work Order the user will be taking the data from.
How similar am I expected to make these 4 forms? As similar as possible so the controls don't seem to jump around when the user moves from page to page? Or as different as possible so there is a visible distinction between the pages?
Hi Amless
Good form design is very much in the eye of the beholder, so it depends on what you want to achieve.
Just some ideas that you might find useful:
1. Don't put too many controls on a form, it can slow down the form, look cluttered and difficult for users to find what they are looking for
2. Give each form only one, clear, objective
3. Group fields that have related functions together on a form
4. Keep fields in the same place on different forms. Makes them easier to find and gives the db a feel of consistency.
5. Don't use loads of different colours - IMHO, horrible, and really hard on the eyes.
Only use colours to draw attention to some really important information or field (but see 6c. below)
6. Differentiate similar forms by
a. a very clear title,
b, grouping controls that differentiate a form in different areas on the form
c. use different colours (sparingly!) to highlight the title on the form or perhaps as a broad line on each form to differentiate similar forms.
7. Make sure your tab key tabs through each control on the form in a logical sequence
Bob G
To add to what Bernie has already suggested. Where available ask the users opinion within reason. What seems to work for the developer can sometimes not make sense to the people who have to use the tool.
Further, you can garner ideas from the Interface Design forum here at UA, wherein you'll find many examples and demonstrations.
oppe this helps
Bernie has a really good "Form Following Function" list there.
suggest that you keep in mind that early in development you're likely to make lots of changes to both aspects (form and function) of your application. Experience has taught me to employ K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid) in early design so that I didn't spend 8 hours developing a whiz bang graphic navigation, only to discover later that it didn't work at all in a new section of my app that I'd never thought of untill months later. But whatever I did, I tried to keep it consistent so as not to aggrevate my users. If I found that my buttons needed a graphic to visually differentiate between a preview and a printed report, than all buttons in every form got specific graphics.
More specifically for your question, I was confortable breaking my design down to two layouts ... one layout for forms that perform data entry (be it a new/edited customer, order, inventory, etc) and another layout for forms that filter the results for printing and data review (be it inventory statistics over time, order history, invoicing, etc). That way users kind of have a visual cue that, oh, I'm in a reporting section ... I can't edit this invoice here ... I've got to back up and ... yadda yadda.
Just a suggestion.
My only additional thought is to determine to the extent possible the display settings of the computers that will be used for the application. Different screen resolutions (including wide vs. standard monitors) may mean an application that looks fine on your computer may not be able to display everything on another computer.
Thank you all! The message I am getting is that I seem to be on the right track.
Bear in mind the "Chocolate" Theory (which states) - a little bit is nice and too much is sickening.
Believe me I do! In fact when I followed the suggested link and looked at some of the forms my forms look downright dowdy in comparison. I focus mainly on functionality. Plus, most of them I run myself, but the one I am working on now is for a cousin who uses a computer, but as I said in another thread, "He is comfortable with computers, but the unexpected, new or different seems to give him pause. So this is a challenge for me to make the program as intuitive as possible."
I just posted the database in another thread where I'm asking for help with working with tab controls.
My biggest question is how similar to make the location of the list boxes.
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