Rules to Better Access UI
When designing their UI, Access developers often make these common mistakes:
- Non-standard fonts - for example, making fonts bold or using different fonts on the same form
- Different background colors for labels and controls - this will confuse users because it's not standard with Windows, and the colors are distracting
- No standard OK/Cancel button pair - it's always a good idea to do as Windows does because users are familiar with Windows dialogs. "Save" and "Cancel" are non-standard, for example.
- Lots of different forms - having a separate form for every block of data that needs to be entered can become a confusing and tedious process.
With the new breed of icons, themes and form layouts, you will try and steer away from the old Access look. Aim for a cleaner, less cluttered, and quicker to navigate look. With just a little time you can fix up your Access forms. Try these tips and see how you can transform even an Access Application!
Do you agree with them all? Are we missing some? Email us your tips, thoughts or arguments. Let us know what you think.
Having a separate form for every block of data that needs to be entered can become a confusing and tedious process. A common example is having one form to add/edit Contact details, another to add/edit that Contact's Address details, and a third to add/edit that contact's Qualifications. This is not user-friendly...
The best and most organized way to do this is by using tabs - see the examples.
You will target your application towards resolutions that your customers can use comfortably. It is no good to just tell the customer to increase their resolution on their 15-inch LCD because your application and others can become unreadable on smaller screens.
See this rule for a guide as to which resolutions you will be targeting.
All through main Microsoft software, you will see a variety of icons used to represent the information they are related to, and to make the interface more interesting and appealing. When are developing forms in Access, you should aim to make it look and feel consistent and user-friendly, just like Microsoft does.
Find a library you like from one of the links at Do you know where you can find some nice icons? and use it consistently over your forms. See some examples of how we used these icons to vastly improve an old and stuffy Access UI.
As we know, an image is worth a thousand words. So here are some examples of how to make cleaner forms:
A fairly standard Access 97 application that needs some love (Before a makeover)
Screenshots of the existing Application in Access 97 after an SSW makeover (Good)
Access 2007 is an Easy Way to Give Your Old Access Application a new look (Best)
These samples are from a Property Purchase and Negotiation Tracking application created for Queensland Water Infrastructure.