Web Form Design Best Practices

47 %
53 %
Information about Web Form Design Best Practices

Published on July 22, 2007

Author: lukew

Source: slideshare.net


In my Web Form Design Best Practices talk at the Technical Communication Summit in Minneapolis, MN I walked thorugh the importance of Web forms and a series of design best practices culled from live to site analytics, usability testing, eye-tracking studies, and best practice surveys.

Some of the topics I discuss and provide patterns for are: label alignment, required form filed, input field sizes, content grouping, primary & secondary actions, help text & tips, dyanmic help systems, inline validation, error messages, progress indicators, success messaging, progressive disclosure, gradual engagement, tabbing, flexible data inputs, smart defaults, paths to completion, selection dependent inputs, and more...


Luke Wroblewski Yahoo! Inc. • Senior Principal, Product Ideation & Design LukeW Interface Designs • Principal & Founder • Product design & strategy services Author • Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability (Wiley & Sons) • Form Design Best Practices (Rosenfeld Media) - Upcoming • Functioning Form: Web applications, product strategy, & interface design articles Previously • eBay Inc., Lead Designer • University of Illinois, Instructor • NCSA, Senior Designer http://www.lukew.com 2


SHOPPING http://www.flickr.com/photos/radiofree/150535853/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/stitch/187139723/ 4


ACCESS Images from Flickr users katielips, pealco, and *nathan 6




Why Forms Matter • How customers “talk” to companies online • Commerce ($) • User: Enable purchasing • Business: Maximize sales • Access (membership) • User: Enable participation • Business: Increase customers & grow communities • Engagment • User: Enable information entry & manipulation • Business: Accumulate content & data 10

Design Principles • Minimize the pain • No one likes filing in forms • Smart defaults, inline validation, forgiving inputs • Illuminate a path to completion • Consider the context • Familiar vs. foreign • Frequently used vs. rarely used • Ensure consistent communication • Errors, Help, Success • Single voice despite many stakeholders 11

Multiple Data Sources • Usability Testing • Errors, issues, assists, completion rates, time spent per task, satisfaction scores • Customer Support • Top problems, number of incidents • Best Practices • Common solutions, unique approaches • Site Tracking • Completion rates, entry points, exit points, elements utilized, data entered BUSINESS OF DESIGN, EBAY INC. APRIL 2004 12

Design Patterns Visual Communication Information Affordances + Engagement Interaction Disclosure + Response Feedback Verification 13


Information • Layout • Label positioning • Content groupings • Input Affordances • Formats, required fields • Actions • Primary & secondary • Help & Tips • Visual Hierarchy 15

Top Aligned Labels • When data being collected is familiar • Minimize time to completion • Require more vertical space • Spacing or contrast is vital to enable efficient scanning • Flexibility for localization and complex inputs 16

Top-aligned Labels 17

Right Aligned Labels • Clear association between label and field • Requires less vertical space • More difficult to just scan labels due to left rag • Fast completion times 18

Right-aligned labels 19

Left Aligned Labels • When data required is unfamiliar • Enables label scanning • Less clear association between label and field • Requires less vertical space • Changing label length may impair layout 20

Left-aligned labels 21

Eye-tracking Data • July 2006 study by Matteo Penzo • Left-aligned labels • Easily associated labels with the proper input fields • Excessive distances between labels inputs forced users to take more time • Right-aligned labels • Reduced overall number of fixations by nearly half • Form completion times were cut nearly in half • Top-aligned labels • Permitted users to capture both labels & inputs with a single eye movement’ • Fastest completion times 22

• For reduced completion times & familiar data input: top aligned BEST PRACTICE • When vertical screen space is a constraint: right aligned • For unfamiliar, or advanced data entry: left aligned 23

Required Form Fields • Indication of required fields is most useful when • There are lots of fields • But very few are required • Enables users to scan form to see what needs to be filled in • Indication of optional fields is most useful when • Very few fields are optional • Neither is realy useful when • All fields are required 24

All fields required 25

All fields required 26

Most fields required 27

Few fields optional 28



• Try to avoid optional fields • If most fields are required: indicate optional fields BEST PRACTICE • If most fields are optional: indicate required fields • Text is best, but * often works for required fields • Associate indicators with labels 31

Field Lengths • Field lengths can provide valuable affordances • Appropriate field lengths provide enough space for inputs • Random field lengths may add visual noise to a form 32




• When possible, use field length as an affordance BEST PRACTICE • Otherwise consider a consistent length that provides enough room for inputs 36

Content Grouping • Content relationships provide a structured way to organize a form • Groupings provide • A way to scan information required at a high level • A sense of how information within a form is related 37

Lots of content grouping 38

Excessive visual noise 39

Minimum amount necessary 40


Minimum amount necessary 42


• Use relevant content groupings to organize forms BEST PRACTICE • Use the minimum amount of visual elements necessary to communicate useful relationships 44

Actions • Not all form actions are equal • Reset, Cancel, & Go Back are secondary actions: rarely need to be used (if at all) • Save, Continue, & Submit are primary actions: directly responsible for form completion • The visual presentation of actions should match their importance 45



• Avoid secondary actions if possible BEST PRACTICE • Otherwise, ensure a clear visual distinction between primary & secondary actions 48

Help & Tips • Help & Tips are useful when: Asking for unfamiliar data • Users may question why data is being requested • There are recommended ways of providing data • Certain data requests are optional • • However, Help & Tips can quickly overwhelm a form if overused • In these cases, you may want to consider a dynamic solution • Automatic inline exposure • User activated inline exposure • User activated section exposure 49

Help Text 50

Lots of Help/Tips 51


Automatic inline exposure 53

Automatic inline exposure 54

User-activated inline exposure 55

User-activated inline exposure 56

User-activated section exposure 57

• Minimize the amount of help & tips required to fill out a form • Help visible and adjacent to a data BEST PRACTICE request is most useful • When lots of unfamiliar data is being requested, consider using a dynamic help system 58


Interaction • Path to Completion • “Tabbing” • Progressive Disclosure • Exposing dependencies 60

Path to Completion • Primary goal for every form is completion • Every input requires consideration & action • Remove all unnecessary data requests • Enable flexible data input • Provide a clear path • Enable smart defaults 61

Remove Unnecessary Inputs 62

Flexible Data Input (555) 123-4444 555-123-4444 555 123 4444 555.123.4444 5551234444 63

Smart Defaults 64

Path to Completion 65

Clear Path to Completion 66

Path to completion 67

• Remove all unnecessary data requests • Enable smart defaults BEST PRACTICE • Employ flexible data entry • Illuminate a clear path to completion • For long forms, show progress & save 68

Tabbing • Many users interact with a form by “tabbing” between fields • Proper HTML markup can ensure tabbing works as expected • Multi-column form layouts may conflict with expected tabbing behavior 69


• Remember to account for tabbing behavior • Use the tabindex BEST PRACTICE attribute to control tabbing order • Consider tabbing expectations when laying out forms 71

Progressive Disclosure • Not all users require all available options all the time • Progressive disclosure provides additional options when appropriate • Advanced options • Gradual engagement 72

Exposing Options 73

Exposing Options 74

Dialog 75

Progressive Disclosure 76

Gradual Engagement 77


• Map progressive disclosure to prioritized user needs BEST PRACTICE • Most effective when user-initiated • Maintain a consistent approach 79

Selection Dependent Inputs • Sometimes an initial data input requires or enables additional inputs • More options become available because of an initial input • Further clarification required due to initial input 80

Selection Dependent Inputs 81

Page Level 82

Section Tabs 83

Section Finger Tabs 84

Section Selectors 85

Expose Below 86

Expose Within 87

Inactive Until Selected 88

Exposed & Grouped 89

Exposing Dependent Inputs • Page Level • Requires additional step • Section Tabs • Often go unnoticed • Require smart defaults • Finger Section Tabs • Follow path to completion scan line • Section Selectors • Effectively Group information • Hide some options • Expose Below & Expose Within • Potential for confusion • Inactive Until Selected & Exposed within Groups • Association between primary selection is impaired 90

• Maintain clear relationship between initial selection options BEST PRACTICE • Clearly associate additional inputs with their trigger • Avoid “jumping” that disassociates initial selection options 91


Feedback • Inline validation • Assistance • Errors • Indication & Resolution • Progress • Indication • Success • Verification 93

Inline Validation • Provide direct feedback as data is entered • Validate inputs • Suggest valid inputs • Help users stay within limits 94

Password Validation 95

Unique User Name Validation 96

Valid Input Suggestions 97

Maximum Character Count 98

• Use inline validation for inputs that have potentially high error BEST PRACTICE rates • Use suggested inputs to disambiguate • Communicate limits 99

Errors • Errors are used to ensure all required data is provided and valid • Clear labels, affordances, help/tips & validation can help reduce errors • But some errors may still occur • Provide clear resolution in as few steps as possible 100

Error Messaging 101

Short Forms: too much? 102

Short Forms 103

Short Forms 104


• Clearly communicate an error has occurred: top placement, visual contrast • Provide actionable BEST PRACTICE remedies to correct errors • Associate responsible fields with primary error message • “Double” the visual language where errors have occurred 106

Progress • Sometimes actions require some time to process • Form submission • Data calculations • Uploads • Provide feedback when an action is in progress 107

Disable Submit Button 108

• Provide indication of tasks in progress BEST PRACTICE • Disable “submit” button after user clicks it to avoid duplicate submissions 109

Success • After successful form completion confirm data input in context • On updated page • On revised form • Provide feedback via • Message (removable) • Animated Indicator 110



Animated Indication 113

• Clearly communicate a data submission has been successful BEST PRACTICE • Provide feedback in context of data submitted 114

Additional Tips • Avoid changing inputs provided by users • With later inputs • After an error has occurred • Let users know if difficult to obtain information is required prior to sending them to a form 115

Accessibility & Mark-up • Use <label> tags to associate labels with inputs • Properly read by screen readers • Most browsers treat text with <label> tags as clickable: larger actions • Use the tabindex attribute to provide a “tabbing” path • Provides control over tabbing order • Enables forms to be navigated by keyboard • Consider the accesskey attribute for additional keyboard support • Direct access to associated input fields • Consider <fieldset> to group related form fields 116

Web Form Creation Tools • Wufoo • http://www.wufoo.com • Form Assembly • http://www.formassembly.com • icebrrg • http://www.icebrrg.com 117

For more information… • Functioning Form • www.lukew.com/ff/ • Web Form Design Best Practices • www.rosenfeldmedia.com/books/webforms/ • Winter 2008 • Drop me a note • luke@lukew.com 118

Add a comment

Related pages

Web Form Design Best Practices - Lynda.com

- Hello and welcome to Web Form Design Best Practices. We'll be taking a detailed dive into what makes web forms tick, and even looking at a couple ways to ...
Read more

Web Form Design: Showcases And Solutions - Smashing Magazine

Learn all about Web Form Design best practices, modern and creative solutions to improve your sign-up and contact forms, user interaction and conversion.
Read more

Web Form Design - Rosenfeld Media

In Web Form Design, Luke Wroblewski ... If I could only send a copy of Web Form Design Best Practices to the designer of every web form that’s ...
Read more

Best Practices for Web Form Design - LukeW

1 best practices for form design luke wroblewski author, web form design 2008
Read more

7 Best Practices for Web Form Design - Wishpond

A CTA button is the final action a visitor will take on your form before they’re directed to another page. It’s critical to get this portion of your ...
Read more

7 Common Web Form Design Mistakes to Avoid

Bad practices in web form design will irritate your ... and unfriendly web form. ... Up; The Assembly Line Web Form Design Tips & Best Practices.
Read more

LukeW | Web Form Design Best Practices

Download. PDF Web Form Design Best Practices. Description. On the Web, forms bridge the gap between people, their information, and your product or service.
Read more

5 Examples of Web Form Design Best Practices

May 11, 2015 5 Examples of Web Form Design Best Practices. Let’s face it: It’s easy to forget about the importance of web form design, especially when ...
Read more

The Form Usability Treasure Trove: 42+ Top Resources ...

The Form Usability Treasure Trove: 42+ Top Resources Phil Sharp | April 4, 2013. Recent; ... Presentation: Web Form Design Best Practices. by Luke Wroblewski.
Read more

21 first class examples of effective web form design ...

Web form optimisation and good design is therefore vital, so here I've gathered up 21 examples of form best practice from a range of different sites. ...
Read more