With regards to user interface, I think they should use a GUI for the system as assuming that some of the customers will have a minimal amount of computer knowledge, thus making the system as easy to navigate through as possible. The start screen is important as if looks complicated or uninteresting customers may decide to not bother using the system. The ideal kind of main starting screen, is one, which will allow customers straight into any of the sub sections within the system. The diagram below shows how the screen should look similar to, it has all the main areas that they can go to via the buttons.
All the customer has to do is simply select the button of the area that they want go to within the system. This would then take the users any other different areas that they want to look at e.g. the Plant types, this would then take them to into the specific area.The user interface would compromise of a VDU, Keyboard, 9 Input buttons (GARDEN LAYOUTS / PLANT TYPES / PLANT DISEASES / SOIL TYPES / QUESTIONS / NEXT / BACK / PRINT / EXIT ). All mentioned, will be installed in the 'advice centre', which has already been designed.
Once the users are in their selected area of the system, which would contain relevant information, diagrams, and photo's they can print the details that they require off for reference.They can return to the main menu and go into another sub section should they wish to. The User will expect the system to be simple to use and expect the system to do everything for them. The System will include a good GUI (graphical user interface) linked to the main database held on the central server. The GUI could be created with Macromedia's Director.
The user with the use of the GUI created in director could navigate through the whole advice centre with the use of the keyboard and buttons provided.The user may want help on horticultural topics; the advice centre will be able to answer queries such as simple plant identification, the best plant for a particular location, plant diseases and garden layouts. The option to gain a printout of the Answers or any displayed page will be available, and all printouts will be ready for collection at the front desk, having been printed off on the Laser printer connected to the central server. Displayed on the advice centre would have to be a clause stating that staff help is also available at Manures R Us, but if the store is busy the staff will have to pay all attention to shop floor duties. Help may not be given, in these circumstances we, Manures R Us apologise.
All that is mentioned would be required for the mental modelThe system overall to be fair is sufficient for the needs of Manures R Us, in the real world money is involved and with money a greater User friendly system could be created, e.g. Touch screens and microphones & speakers so that staff and users can communicate if a query arise, this would be a great advantage for people who have difficulty reading or whom are short sighted, a disadvantage would be that operators would have to be employed to respond to questions and queries in real time.