Software design is the process of creating a program for the computer that performs some function. Typically people use the computer because they can do a lot more than they did before computers were invented. There are a lot of programs available for the computer these days ... millions of them. Some of them are easier to use than others. Everything you do on the computer is the result of someone creating software for it.
Even Microsoft Windows is a program. We do not think of it that way because it is on most all PC's these days. Some programs are word processors like Microsoft Word, drawing programs like Paintbrush and so on. Another name for these programs is called software. In order to create this software there had to be some sought of design, hence the name software design. With the speed that technology is changing, we need to keep good yet simple software design elements in mind.
Here are 7 elements to good software design that programs should follow:
#1: User Friendly
The first thing we should ask is the software program easy to use? Not only should it be easy to use but easy to use using different input devices such as both keyboard and a mouse. Users have many different preferences and a good software program will allow the user to have a good experience regardless of how they want to operate it. Nowadays you have to also take into account for touch-screen tablets. The program needs to re-design so it is easy to operate using touch screen devices as well. This is just another factor going in to this.
#2: Easy to Install
A good software program is easy to install. It doesn't require a rocket scientist to install. A good software program will work on a wide range of computers specifications like screen resolutions, operating systems (both 32 and 64 bit). It has to be easy to install and uninstall which is an attractive thing for the end user to have. It also has to work with other already installed programs and not have a conflict. Now there will always be isolated issues on different computers, there nothing a software designer can do about that. But what we can do is be able to account for most computer systems.
#3: Help Manual
Even though software may be user friendly and compatible, you still have to learn how to use it. The one thing you need to have is a good solid help manual. Software programs should have a manual that isn't too technical but easy to understand and good illustrations on how the program works. This is important and helps the learning quicker.
#4: Good Visual Symmetry
This may fall a bit under user friendly but a good software product will have an easy to follow screen design. The screen will look symmetrical in that one part of the screen will flow nicely into other parts of the screen. Kind of taking the user by the hand and guiding them along the way. It is important for the screen design to look very symmetrical and organized.
#5: Organized on Computer
Some programs when installed are installed easily but put their files all over the computer. If it is a database driven program, then you don't know where the database is located. On mission critical programs it is very important to know where the database is so you can do a backup should anything tragic happen to your computer. That way your data is safe. That is very important.
#6: Easy to Understand Reports
Reports are a big thing in software. People still want to print things out and have a hard copy of them. Having a well organized and easy to use reports and the ability to understand them will make all the difference in a software program. Screens that have clear report criteria filters also are important.
#7: Upgrades that are Congruent
Most software these days offer upgrades as computers and technology changes. One thing that I feel is important is not too change the software too much. If the software follows the first 6 bullet points then by changing the screen design for example could make the user a little frustrated and end up not wanting the upgrade to begin with. The old saying goes if it a broke, don't fix it. Well, you can also say if the software programs have a good design then don't completely re-design it. What is working keep working and simply build around it. Even programs from Microsoft like Microsoft Word has a tendency to re-design the look and now the user who has been use to do things one way that was easier now has to relearn the program because they moved things around. This can be a bit frustrating and should be avoided.
Well these are my simple highly effective elements for software design.
When you look for good software programs, consider these important elements!