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Microsoft Access Graphical User Interface

Microsoft Access Graphical User Interface Design Tips

Many people rush into designing the User Interface for their Access database before thinking about layouts, formats and usability. The following tips from David McQueen may greatly assist when considering all of the options available:

This is my primary role in designing Access applications, and having been drafted in plenty of times to "have a look" at some of the forms and reports that have been designed by others, I think that I am able to hand a bit of advice to others.

  1. Users love forms designed in Tahoma 8. I know this old hat to many developers but I am amazed by the amount of screens I come across with a combo of Times New Roman and Bauhaus.
  2. Design reports with Title, Date, UserName and Printed Time in the Header preferably.
  3. Think of the dumbest user ( I know that sounds insulting, but...) possible and ensure that even they can easily read what is on the screen.
  4. Ensure that the design pattern is consistent across the software. For example if you double click to open an item on one list ensure that you can do the same on another form.
  5. Use colour sparingly. Stick to the gray/blue backgrounds and limit the extensive use of colour. If there are items such as required fields on a form, use one background colour for all of these fields, e.g. yellow
  6. Ensure a consistent easy navigation between screens/modules. I prefer to have a consistent top toolbar wherever the user is in the software, or if users don't like that to have a consistent sidebar/treeview.
  7. Type error trapping/required input fields and match them to a dialog box. Nothing worse than a user seeing "Error 76a..blah, blah" when a standard procedure has gone belly up.
  8. Keep screens as uncluttered as possible and please, please, please.....ALIGN the controls on the form.
  9. For objects that are not applicable to a certain user or process, just gray them out/disable them, rather than deleting them. It helps especially when users have made a mental image of what the screen should look like.
  10. Ensure that data in fields is justified appropriately. Right for numbers (integers) and Left for strings.

Thanks to David for the above tips.

To see some examples of the designs being used for a User Interface please go to the User Interface Designs page.