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Application Design:

In a nutshell...
Application design refers to the design of a program (GUI) that sits over a database to facilitate the use of the databases data.

NB: An application is not to be confused with a database although the term is often used inter-changeably. A database is used to store data whereas an application describes the combination of a database and a program (GUI).

The program, or GUI, sits on top of the database and allows users to access the data. It's the combination of a database and a GUI that accurately describes an application.

Tell me more...

After your database has been designed, built and tested, the next thing to do is to build an application to sit on top so that users can use the data.

You can of course add data directly to a database but this is very difficult and is not the recommended way to let users interact with your data. At a minimum you need some sort of GUI that will allow someone to use the data.

For example, a typical call centre application will allow a user to to take details for home insurance. The application will be designed to capture information from the customer in a timely fashion, validating data on entry, presenting lists to make selections from and allowing the user to jump to a different parts of the database if they require further information to fulfil a task.

Anything else I should know?
Many things make a good application, but the best way to have a great application is to speak with the people who will eventually use it. It's no good building something that you think may work and expecting users just to adopt it, it never works.

You need to spend time with them, get to know the way they work and listen to their ideas and comments. By doing this you will also get the users buy-in on your application.

You should also look to adopt simple and well established design principles. There's a good reason why applications are 'battleship grey' in colour and why you should only use certain font styles.

Remember, at the end of the day, no matter what new technology comes along, your users will only be doing one of four things at any one time:

• Adding data
• Editing data
• Deleting data
• Reviewing data

Make it simple for them and you will be rewarded with greater productivity.

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