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I've been assigned to help organize the workflow for a public health study that will recruit subjects, interview them, assign them to an intervention category, etc. Previously the staff handled everything in Excel. I'd like advice on how to design an Access application so that the staff finds the application easy to use. I'm not looking for answers with code, but suggesting form components or design ideas would be useful.

Is this appropriate for SO, or would it be more appropriate to or even I'd prefer SO, of course, because I'm likely to get more/better answers.

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I think the form design questions are best on UX. The more technical ones on DBA and/or SO. – Paŭlo Ebermann Aug 17 '11 at 2:10
I only worry that I might not get high quality answers there. For example, in one question answerers didn't know the difference between Excel and Access. – Patrick Aug 17 '11 at 2:21
I think that specific example question is better on UX (even if one person hasn't heard of Access). You might get better answers on SO, but it's also very likely to be downvoted and or migrated to UX. – iandotkelly Aug 17 '11 at 2:51
Okay, fair enough. I've posted it there, and perhaps I'll find a technical way to phrase it for SO if my responses aren't helpful. – Patrick Aug 17 '11 at 3:24
Four views in one hour, geez. – Patrick Aug 17 '11 at 3:30
If one of you post an answer, I'll choose it. (Does anyone really care about rep on meta?) – Patrick Aug 17 '11 at 3:31
@Patrick: No, not really. – Cody Gray Aug 17 '11 at 9:20
@Patrick: your question is very broad, I don't think it's a good fit anywhere on SE as it is. You're basically asking "how do I design an app that was an excel spreadsheet before?" - there can't be one definitive answer (check UX's faq), and it's not even clear (to me) if you're asking for help on the technical design or the UI design. – Mat Aug 17 '11 at 10:09
Do you honestly mean you are going to be asking questions about the finer points of UI design? I'd say User Experience would be appropriate for higher level UI questions. But it doesn't seem like (from your question and the fact you're going to be using access for this) you are a high level designer. Seems like you will be needing all kinds of help hacking together an access form, questions about which are on topic on SO. – Won't Aug 17 '11 at 12:03
@Mat, sorry - I didn't mean it to sound overly broad. I'm not asking someone to tell me how to design the whole app (icanhaztehappdesign), but I was hoping for advice on the form design, or perhaps a suggestion for a component to use. Is there no place on SE for questions about overall application design? – Patrick Aug 17 '11 at 13:18
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Questions about form design would probably not be on topic at Stack Overflow. From the FAQ:

We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • matters that are unique to the programming profession

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

Questions about UI design don't contain any source code, aren't about algorithms, and aren't specific to the programming profession. Thus, they would probably be better asked on the User Experience site.

While it's true that site does get less "action" than Stack Overflow, it's also likely that you'll get a better quality answer from the experts there than you will from programmers on SO. It may be a bad stereotype, but there's a reason that many of us are programmers rather than designers. My advice, though, is to make sure that your question is not overly technical and doesn't rely on any programming-specific details when you post it to UX.SE. As you mentioned in a comment, you can't assume that people know anything about programming or your particular platform. Copious amounts of example screenshots/wireframes are very helpful in setting up your question.

That said, questions about implementation, whether it's architecture implementation, design implementation, or database implementation, would all be on topic for Stack Overflow.

So, once you get past figuring out how the interface should look, and start writing actual source code, you can start asking questions on SO.

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