If you have new staff, students or volunteers who may need to search or add records to your databases, it is a good idea to have guidelines on data entry protocols, and some instructions on how to search effectively. However printed documents are often lost or not readily accessible, so we recommend adding notes and hints to the DB/TextWorks forms themselves. These can be as brief or as lengthy as you need – we have designed some forms for clients with incredibly detailed instructions.
The databases in all our DB/TextWorks kits feature query screens with searching hints in a text box at the bottom:
We also often add brief instructions in a text box right next to each field on data entry screens. We indicate in the label formatting whether a field is required (red) or has a validation list (underlined).
In the screenshot below we have also divided a long data entry screen up into sections with black textboxes, and resized boxes to indicate the length of a typical entry.
The DB/TextWorks Form Designer is a drag and drop WYSIWYG interface so quite easy to learn. If in doubt use Save As to make a copy of an existing form while you experiment.
When adding either a form or a text box, parameters such as size, label position and font are inherited from the box above of the same type. You can also click on a box, and right click to copy and then paste to create multiple matching boxes for your hints.
These simple conventions and the addition of hints can make the search and data entry experience much easier for your new or irregular users! We still occasionally find clients just using the basic forms – taking advantage of these design capabilities can dramatically improve the usability of your database.
We can of course help you! Contact us if you’d like any training or assistance with designing any DB/TextWorks screens.