Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Concerning Yourself with the End User
Making the application aesthetically appealing and intuitive
If you’ve used many different software packages, you’ve undoubtedly seen examples of poorly
designed user interfaces, difficult-to-use programs, and just plain ugly screens. If you’re
developing spreadsheets for other people, you should pay particular attention to how the application
looks.
How a computer program looks can make all the difference in the world to users, and the same is
true with the applications that you develop with Excel. Beauty, however, is in the eye of the
beholder. If your skills lean more in the analytical direction, consider enlisting the assistance of
someone with a more aesthetic sensibility to provide help with design.
The good news is that, beginning with Excel 2007, new features make creating better-looking
spreadsheets a relatively easy task. If you stick with the pre-designed cell styles, your work
stands a good chance of looking good. And, with the click of a mouse, you can apply a new
theme that completely transforms the look of the workbook — and still looks good.
Unfortunately, Excel 2010 adds nothing new in the area of UserForm design, so you’re on your
own in that area.
End users appreciate a good-looking user interface, and your applications will have a much more
polished and professional look if you devote additional time to design and aesthetic
considerations. An application that looks good demonstrates that its developer cared enough about the
product to invest extra time and effort. Take the following suggestions into account:
h Strive for consistency. When designing dialog boxes, for example, try to emulate the
look and feel of Excel’s dialog boxes whenever possible. Be consistent with formatting,
fonts, text size, and colors.
h Keep it simple. A common mistake that developers make is trying to cram too much
information into a single screen or dialog box. A good rule is to present only one or two
chunks of information at a time.
h Break down input screens. If you use an input screen to solicit information from the user,
consider breaking it up into several, less crowded screens. If you use a complex dialog
box, you may want to break it up by using a MultiPage control, which lets you create a
familiar tabbed dialog box.
h Don’t overdo color. Use color sparingly. It’s very easy to overdo color and make the
screen look gaudy.
h Monitor typography and graphics. Pay attention to numeric formats and use consistent
typefaces, font sizes, and borders.
Evaluating aesthetic qualities is very subjective. When in doubt, strive for simplicity and clarity.
Versions prior to Excel 2007 used a pallet of 56 colors. That restriction has been
removed, and Excel now supports more than 16 million colors.
 
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