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Principle 14 - Applications Ease of Use.

Applications must be easy to use for both novice and expert users. Interfaces should be similar enough to present a reasonably consistent "look and feel."


Individuals must use a variety of applications to accomplish their objectives. When these applications look and operate in very different ways, productivity is reduced and risk of error is increased.


  • Novice and expert users have very different ease of use requirements; what is easy for the novice user may be painful for the expert user and vice versa. The user interface should address both sets of requirements.
  • Applications should be easy to use for those who create transactions as well as those who perform analytical functions. Therefore, easy-to-use analytical functions should be an integral part of the application.
  • Standards and guidelines for user interfaces must be developed and periodically reviewed and updated. Such standards and guidelines should address the user interface components of an individual application such a screen design, navigation, and screen operation as well as integration issues such as navigation between applications, upload/download operations, and import/export services between applications. These standards and guidelines must recognize the role of the desktop in the integration of applications.
  • The development tools used to create an application place some constraints on what the look and feel of that application will be. Wherever possible, similar tools should be used to develop applications which are offered as University-wide services or which tend to be used in conjunction with each other to accomplish a particular objective.
  • Wherever possible, shared data should be displayed and labeled consistently across applications. At the same time, presentation of information must be appropriate to the needs of the individual. Tradeoffs between flexible and consistent presentation may be necessary in order to satisfy the specific information requirements.
  • Documentation, training, and application support are important components of the "ease of use" feature and are ongoing activities during the development and life of an application. These activities must be carefully planned and appropriate resources allocated.
  • The implementation of security restrictions should not make access to multiple applications complex or burdensome.
  • Because the design of the user interface will change over time, migration strategies need to address the continuous transition to and integration of new media as well as the tradeoffs between maintaining reasonably consistent user interface across all applications and the cost and other issues involved in retrofitting existing applications to comply with new user interface standards.

Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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