In these days of exceptionally “busy” screens within which operators can usually choose many options (…and sometimes ones which they shouldn’t), I have been placed in a position where I am being asked to create an application with minimal functionality entry screens! This design approach reminds me of the very simplistic (…also efficient, lean and mean) entry screens of the character-based applications I was designing in the 70’s and 80’s. No surprise here since the application being designed is truly a system based upon that early design approach and technology — and my customer describes himself as a “control freak”, and describes a co-worker as “even more of a control freak” than he is!
OK, so you’ve now got a general picture of a design criteria — Keep It Simple Stupid! Purchase order entry for this application has boiled down to finding the item in a lookup list, giving how many you want, and setting up a schedule for delivery. There is no vendor choice as an item purchased is always tied to a specific vendor. There are no field over-rides, no additional comments allowed, just how many and when! Not even cost entry is allowed when creating a PO.
But oh those master files! Only a select number of employees get to setup the data in the master files. Throughout the application it is the design of the master files and the information contained within them that dictate the information which appears on any purchase order, manufacturing document, shipping or invoice document. All the data integrity resides in proper setup by the few with authority to do it. This is in place to maintain absolute tight control over operator errors. (There is an assumption that a shipper/receiver can count).
That brings me to the transactional entry screen design. The KISS approach seems like such a waste of screen realty — maybe 3-5 forms on an entry screen, some display only info based upon selections, and maybe a “Save” button — all on a 1024×760 monitor? These highly simplistic entry screens lend themselves very nicely to an AJAX browser design approach — an approach not yet into design of this project for this customer.