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Ease-of-Use Guidelines

The first rule for ease-of-use applications is to forget the three rules of data entry applications. You will only confuse the user and handcuff yourself from being able to take advantage of the benefits of GUIs. With ease-of-use applications, the most important rule is the following:

Keep it clean and simple.

This one rule can be broken down into several guidelines, discussed in the following sections.

Guideline 1: Less Is More

Don't overload your user's visual senses. Try to present only the information necessary as quickly and efficiently as possible. Although you want to avoid unknown abbreviations for field prompts, you also don't want to be overly verbose. Use "first name" instead of something like "First name of the person filling out the form."

Guideline 2: Minimize Use of Graphical Images

You also want to be sure to refrain from using a lot of complicated graphics. It is appropriate to have a company logo, but try to avoid the button-everywhere look found on a junior high student's backpack.

Guideline 3: Not Everyone Needs Instructions

Although you may have the space to include instructions for the application on the form, it has the tendency to create a cluttered look. Therefore, if instructions are needed, add a small button to the form that brings up detailed instructions in a separate window.

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