The system that I am working on is an Intranet System only accessible within the company network to our staff. This is a primary system for storing data of all our customers. The system is entirely web based. There is a lot of data to be captured and held for each customer. At the moment opening up a customer record brings up all the information is input boxes, etc so that users can change them and click on the save button to update. There are about 40 to 50 pages organised with fields all over the page. There is a single top level navigation bar with a side navigation bar as well.

We have decided to work on the design and layout of the pages. The first step will be to create a Detail View and an Edit View. At the moment there is no Detail View, everything is shown within the same Edit fields.

Do you have any good ideas on improving usability on an intranet database system (web based)

+1  A: 

Well, this is really about "web user interface design" and the fact that you are on a company intranet really doesn't matter too much one way or another, except for the fact that you can assume users know certain things about your company already.

As for good interface design via a web interface, you may want to check out the other SO posts below:

+5  A: 

It's a big question. The approach you mentioned is very much focused on the details when you might be better served figuring out the high-level design first. It sounds like you have a lot of data and might be overloading your users.

I would recommend that you do the following:

  1. Ask your users. They live right down the hall, so this is easier for you. Ask them what kinds of things they go to the intranet for right now. (You can ask them to talk about hypothetical situations, but that's a different technique, and yields speculative data.) Ask if you can watch them use the intranet.
  2. Aggregate their feedback and try to see patterns in it. Can you group data according to some logical classification? Is it better for you to provide a database-style search interface? What about both -- they're not mutually exclusive?
  3. Look for examples. Look at websites that work for you: Stack Overflow? Amazon? Netflix? Whatever it is. What can you learn from how they organize and present information?
  4. Mock up a simple prototype. And when I say 'simple' it could just be markers and sticky notes on a whiteboard. Use this low-fidelity prototype with a few users and see if they can figure it out. Don't "help", see what they make of it -- see if they can find what they're looking for.
  5. Iterate. Do steps 1-4 over and over as you approach a design.

Good luck! This is a real challenge, but if you make a system that works well you will save your company a huge amount of wasted time; and time is money.

Alex Feinman