Within the last year I joined a scientific research team as a programmer/analyst. Amongst many tools used by the researchers at this company, is a centralized content management system used to log important information about study participants.
We track everything from their age, birth, gender, to their MRI records, to medications, physician visits, attack history, etc... As I'm sure you can imagine, there are literally hundreds of demographic fields as well as over a dozen unique studies participants can be a part of, each of which has their own database fields. Researchers can also use the tool as an interface with our MySQL databases (we have over 25 of them...) and download reports to analyze data.
We're working with a LAMP stack and the site is currently relying on a HEAVY amount of jquery for styling. The website right now is definitely functional but is sore on the eyes (it was developed circa 2010). For each participant, there are multiple tabs with (almost) endless text fields, drop downs, and text boxes. I spent the last week or two essentially rebuilding the site with the foundation framework (as ALL of the CSS is hand written) but everything was still too cluttered and really did not improve the usability of the site.
My question to you all, how should one go about designing a website that's used for data entry and obtaining information? Are there any particular frameworks that solve scientific database entry UX better than others? Are strict data entry websites just not "design friendly" in nature? Having a tough time deciding where to start with this one.