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General Design Principles for EHRs

A great user interface follows established human interface design principles that are based on the way users (doctors, nurses, patients etc.) think and work. The following are 14 general design principles that can be applied to the development of EHRs:

Consistency Visibility Match Minimalism Memory Feedback Flexibility
Error Messages Prevent Errors Closure Undo Language Control Help
  1. Consistency and standards. Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Standards and conventions in product design should be followed.
  2. Visibility of system state. Users should be informed about what is going on with the system through appropriate feedback and display of information.
  3. Match between system and world. The image of the system perceived by users should match the model the users have about the system.
  4. Minimalist Design. Any extraneous information is a distraction and a slow-down. Less is more.
  5. Minimize memory load. Users should not be required to memorize a lot of information to carry out tasks. Memory load reduces users capacity to carry out the main tasks.
  6. Informative feedback. Users should be given prompt and informative feedback about their actions.
  7. Flexibility and efficiency. Users always learn and users are always different. Give users the flexibility of creating customization and shortcuts to accelerate their performance.
  8. Good error messages. The messages should be informative enough such that users can under- stand the nature of errors, learn from errors, and re- cover from errors.
  9. Prevent errors. It is always better to design interfaces that prevent errors from happening in the first place.
  10. Clear closure. Every task has a beginning and an end. Users should be clearly notified about the completion of a task.
  11. Reversible actions (undo). Users should be allowed to recover from errors. Reversible actions also encourage exploratory learning.
  12. Use users language. The language should be always presented in a form understandable by the intended users.
  13. Users in control. Do not give users that impression that they are controlled by the systems. Users are initiators of actors, not responders to actions. Avoid surprising actions, unexpected outcomes, or tedious sequences of actions.
  14. Help and documentation. Always provide help when needed. Such as task-oriented; alphabetically ordered; semantically organized; and search.

These principles and guidelines were gathered using this methodology.

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