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The sad part is that these shortcomings can often be cured using a few simple guidelines. For example, it helps if user can enter data using buttons and list boxes, instead of typing it in by hand. It helps if software provides pop-up dialog boxes, to guide user along way. Even judicious choice of icons and other graphics can turn a steep learning curve into a short and gentle slope.
For that matter, even such trivial matters as spelling and grammar deserve attention. Poorly phrased instructions can severely hinder an operator—and even if they don’t, they do reflect poorly on developers of that application.
There is much more that can be said about mechanics of good user interface design, but that’s a topic on which entire book can be (and have been) written. Suffice to say that a company that strives for excellence should pay close attention to elements of software usability and flexibility. These are critical elements of software excellence, and they are worth pursuing.
V. Berba Velasco Jr., Ph.D. is proud to serve as a senior electrical and software engineer at Cellular Technology Ltd, a biotech firm that specializes in ELISPOT analysis tools and ELISPOT assays.