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Microsoft Access Form Design
User Interface Design Examples

Form design is a specific component of user interface design and involves the creation of a system used by people to interact with an object such as a microwave, cell phone, or computer. Form design ergonomic factors, ease of use, and understandability are all combined to create the science of user interface design.





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Poor form designs can cause frustration, mistakes, fatigue, and actual physical damage such as eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome.  For our recommendations in this article we will focus on user interface designs for software systems - in particular - Microsoft Access forms.

Form design in Microsoft Access and user interface design in general are important components of all interactive database management systems.  Microsoft Access form developers have a nearly infinite combination of fonts, colors and layouts from which to choose.  It is important to choose a combination of characteristics which will provide a simple and pleasant interface to the data for the user.  See below what our Microsoft Access form programmers recommend.

Normally the more data that has to be displayed on one screen the more important it is to use a consistent, user-friendly form design.

Here are a few Microsoft Access form design recommendations and examples for Microsoft Access developers who want to make user-friendly Access interfaces:

  • Interface Control - most novice programmers use a switchboard or nested switchboard for management of navigation within an Access database.  We vote against using a switchboard because it requires many additional clicks for the user to navigate in a moderately large database.  Our recommendation is to use a tabbed interface.  You have been seeing more and more use of the tabbed interface on the Internet in recent years.  This tabbed design provides immediate access to the various functions within your database.  This design also offers simple methods for implementing user navigation control and different levels of users.  We have many examples of tabbed interface design on a form examples pages.

  • Form Colors - Choose form design colors with good contrast. Remember that some of your users may be color blind.  If the first thing a person notices when viewing the screen are the colors then you have gone too far in colorizing your screen.  The user should first notice the field labels followed by the data MS Access developers.  Bold black letters on gray background is preferred for the boilerplate and black letters on white background is preferred for data.  Use form colors to highlight important fields or data in your form designs.  Consider making required fields standout from other fields on the form.

  • Form Fonts - The fewer the fonts on the forms the better.  Fonts without serifs tend to be easier to read - my favorite is MS Sans Serif.  Avoid using several different font sizes - stick to one or two.  Don't use a lot of italics, and underlines
     

  • Form Layout - When you have many fields to display on a form try to group them.  For instance you can group Name, Address, etc. together on the form and separate this information from other supporting information in the data record.  Don't forget to set the tab order on your form correctly.
     

  • Form Buttons - Avoid creating your own navigation and function buttons whenever these buttons are already available in a standard Microsoft Access form.  Examples of some standard buttons/functions are Next Record, New Record, Sort, etc.
     

  • Form Navigation - Don't try to overly control where a user goes on the form with the use of triggers such as GotFocus and LostFocus.  Try to program the form so that the user can navigate most anywhere - handle illogical navigation with a friendly popup message.


There are a two other sections of our website with programming examples for different aspects of form design and programming:

For many more form layout examples see our Access database examples.









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