The key to successful information systems is good design. Different people use the word design in different contexts. When information systems professionals speak of design, they are referring to business processes. Problems must be analyzed and requirements documented before solutions are designed, developed, and implemented. After all if the design does not satisfy the business need, then what’s the point? However, satisfying the business need is really a baseline standard. The following characteristics should be considered in the design process.
- Usability describes how easy the system is to navigate. The easier the system is to navigate, the less time a user will need to spend learning to use the system. A more usable system also leaves less room for error. Usability theory provides rules of thumb (heuristics) that document best practice conventions for designing a user interface. Amazon.com has one of the most usable online systems because they follow established conventions. Following conventions tremendously increases the potential acceptance of your website or app.
- Graphic design refers to the visual appeal and organization of the user interface. There is obviously some overlap here with usability. Usable systems typically adhere to at least some graphic design rules. However, a usable system could be bland and uninteresting. Employing graphic design principles helps ensure that the system will have visual appeal. Designs also need to fit with the overall brand of the client. Existing colors, fonts, and logos are all a part of the brand for which the system is being created.
- Analytical Design describes how to best represent information—especially quantitative information—to communicate clearly and truthfully. Every information systems project has quantitative dimensions associated with project management. These include estimating costs, time schedules, and so forth.