The Graphical User Interface (GUI) was a great innovation that made computer accessible to the average person. Dropdown menus, icons and other visual elements, with a mouse to point and click on the screen freed up computer users from having to remember obscure commands. However, it soon became clear that windows, icons and menus could be almost as confusing as the old command line interfaces. Without careful planning and testing a GUI can become so bloated that it is overwhelming and confusing.
That’s why we designed Dentrix Ascend with something that we call “Natural User Interface” or NUI. The Natural User Interface (NUI) offers superior usability compared to the older GUI style interfaces. Based on a few common sense design principles, NUI helps new users quickly become experts.
Present the user a reduced number of choices – Having too many choices actually makes it less likely users will understand and use each feature. When users are confused about what they see on screen they are less likely to explore and use the features available to them.
Dentrix Ascend presents a clean and simple interface. Each screen has a well-defined purpose and presents only those actions that are relevant to the purpose. Everything else is available in a neatly arranged application navigation with just a few top navigation categories.
Prioritize possible solutions – As users work through a software interface to accomplish tasks they are presented with a range of potential actions. Good software design should help users identify the best possible action to take and guide them to it without restricting their access to other possible solutions.
Not only does Ascend reduce the number of options, but the interface guides users to the best choice through placement, color and other visual cues.
Allow for workflow interruptions – Dental practice staff are often interrupted when working on a routine task. It’s hard to complete even simple tasks without having to take a break to respond to requests from patients and other team members. Good software design should allow every activity to be interruptible in such a way that it can be resumed from the point of interruption.
To eliminate the problems associated with interruptions, Dentrix Ascend automatically post changes as they are entered on many screens. The chart, for instance, posts procedures as they are entered without having to remember to click a “save” button. It prompts you to return and save your work before navigating to another page.
Present only information and actions that are needed – Smart software understands the user’s current focus and presents information and actions that are relevant to the activity and hides anything that is not helpful.
Dentrix Ascend understands what users are trying to do and presents information and actions that are most relevant. The patient chart is a great example. If the doctor selects a tooth and then click “Add Procedures” Ascend will present the most common procedures for a tooth. Even better, it will learn which procedures the doctor most commonly records and move those to the top of the list.
If the doctor doesn’t select a tooth then it will present procedures that apply to the whole mouth, like bitewings.
When we present Dentrix Ascend to prospective customers, one of the first things they comment on is how clean the interface looks and how much simpler it would be to use compared to their current system.
What do you think of our NUI? Feel free to share your comments here.