Forms Usable forms 1 Every web site has

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Forms: Usable forms 1

Forms: Usable forms 1

 • Every web site has forms, some have dozens of forms • Forms

• Every web site has forms, some have dozens of forms • Forms are vital tools – Request materials – Ask questions – Register – Pay fines 2

User’s Mindset • Filling in forms is a necessary evil – Paying bills –

User’s Mindset • Filling in forms is a necessary evil – Paying bills – Your tax return – Job applications – Your tax return –… • Our job is make the experience as “pain free” as possible 3

Is this your experience? • Filled out a long form only to be told

Is this your experience? • Filled out a long form only to be told you entered something incorrectly but no clear feedback about “what” • Then you hit back only to find that the details you had entered were not preserved, and you have to fill the whole */£$%^*£ thing over again • Your information doesn’t fit – won’t accept your address or your order 4

Designing usable forms • Tune into what the users want to accomplish with the

Designing usable forms • Tune into what the users want to accomplish with the form • Organize the information in a natural way – arrange the requests for like-information together – all of the address information can be collected at once and in a conventional order • street, city, state, and zip code. 5

Primed for action • When users follow a link to a form, they expect

Primed for action • When users follow a link to a form, they expect boxes and arrows • NOT a wall of text • A wall of text is – Intimidating – Boring – Painful Top Ten Web-Design Mistakes of 2002 http: //www. useit. com/alertbox/20021223. html 6

Forms that are walls of text: • Simply bad design • Most users will

Forms that are walls of text: • Simply bad design • Most users will hit back if they can • Skip the text • Guess when answering the questions, never referring to the text above • A few may try to scroll up and down – losing their place – wasting valuable time Death by mouse click 7

Common complaints • Too hard • Too long • Irrelevant Information anxiety strikes –

Common complaints • Too hard • Too long • Irrelevant Information anxiety strikes – they worry … 8

Will this form be a waste of time? • Tell the user the purpose

Will this form be a waste of time? • Tell the user the purpose of the form • Create a clear descriptive title EG Ask a Librarian – You will receive a response to your – question within 24 hours. 9

How long will it take to complete? • How many pages is it? •

How long will it take to complete? • How many pages is it? • Tell them – EG – Page 1 of 4 – This survey will take 10 minutes to complete • For long forms, tell users if they can stop and resume, or if you must complete in one sitting 10

How long? • Keep forms short • Focus them on one activity 11

How long? • Keep forms short • Focus them on one activity 11

Let users know what will happen to the information they submit in a form

Let users know what will happen to the information they submit in a form EG • The comments about this workshop will be forwarded to the Training Coordinator • Remember: Users guard their privacy – How many of you have been Bill Gates or Fred Flintstone when completing a survey or registration? 12

Improve accuracy • Often you can improve the accuracy of forms simply by telling

Improve accuracy • Often you can improve the accuracy of forms simply by telling the user why you’re asking for the information – “We may need to contact you by email or phone to find out more about your question. ” 13

Be conversational • Try to start with “H” or “W” words – How many

Be conversational • Try to start with “H” or “W” words – How many – Where • EG: Ask a Librarian – What’s your question? – How will you use the information? – Where have you looked already? 14

Error tolerant forms • Make sure your questions are clear and unambiguous • The

Error tolerant forms • Make sure your questions are clear and unambiguous • The selection options are appropriate • Form validation – Check the data to see if matches – Numeric or character – Fixed length - 11 digit library bar code 15

Will this form ask irrelevant questions? Users hate compulsory questions, especially when they cannot

Will this form ask irrelevant questions? Users hate compulsory questions, especially when they cannot see the relationship to the task at hand eg What does the office fax number have to do with ordering pizza? 16

Questions don’t match your experience • You’re forced to answer, in order to proceed

Questions don’t match your experience • You’re forced to answer, in order to proceed • Limit the use of required fields and the number of “closed” ended questions • Allow user control and freedom. – Please select from the choices – Other: _______ 17

Leverage “real world” Think about • Expectations about the sequence of information and grouping

Leverage “real world” Think about • Expectations about the sequence of information and grouping of information – EG Library card application • Like many applications • Start with: – Name, address … 18

Let users be your guide • Change your mindset • Rather than insisting that

Let users be your guide • Change your mindset • Rather than insisting that users must complete all survey questions, the form validation process could send a polite message: – “You have not completed questions 3, 6 or 7. Would you like to complete these questions, or simply submit the form as is? ” – Then let the users choose, and then accept their answer. 19

Form controls • Lots to choose from – Text boxes – Checkboxes – Radio

Form controls • Lots to choose from – Text boxes – Checkboxes – Radio buttons – Drop down lists – Multiple select drop down lists 20

Text boxes • Great for entering short tidbits of unique information such as a

Text boxes • Great for entering short tidbits of unique information such as a person’s name • Faster to type the city than scroll through along list + User has lots of freedom - Data errors 21

Example: Phone numbers • A balancing act between giving users freedom and ensuring data

Example: Phone numbers • A balancing act between giving users freedom and ensuring data integrity • Free form, or a series of preformatted text boxes 22

Considerations • International phone numbers – Free form is better • Accessibility – screen

Considerations • International phone numbers – Free form is better • Accessibility – screen readers will only see the label for the first text box • 3 boxes are slower • 3 boxes give clarity about what data is wanted 23

Decision time • Err on the side of being inclusive • Back end scripting

Decision time • Err on the side of being inclusive • Back end scripting can parse out miscellaneous punctuation and improve data integrity 24

Text field pitfalls • Size of the text box matters – It tells the

Text field pitfalls • Size of the text box matters – It tells the user how many characters you expect • For example, a postal code or zip code box should be quite short; but a street address box should be considerably longer – No label – So short the user can’t see (and prevent errors) in their typing • Teeny, tiny search boxes 25

Text areas • Great for free form answers when the user is asked to

Text areas • Great for free form answers when the user is asked to provide a long answer 26

Pitfalls • Accidentally be set up so the text doesn’t wrap • Size matters

Pitfalls • Accidentally be set up so the text doesn’t wrap • Size matters • Enter key behavior – enter” key is set up to automatically submit the form 27

Check boxes • Select one or more options from a list • Short lists

Check boxes • Select one or more options from a list • Short lists with 5 to 7 options work best • Save time over a drop down list; see it right up front • Options help flush out/add meaning 28

Pitfalls • Dozens of checkboxes • Poor labeling – users aren’t sure whether to

Pitfalls • Dozens of checkboxes • Poor labeling – users aren’t sure whether to “pick one” or “pick many” • Failure to predict the options that users would like to see in the list and not providing an open-ended, “Other: ” option 29

Best form practices - example • Clear purpose • Sequence #1 and grouping of

Best form practices - example • Clear purpose • Sequence #1 and grouping of trip elements • Labels • Free form destination – Back end testing, pick from list if you fail • Dates – Offers a choice 30

Radio buttons • Best used when there is one choice, and only one, that

Radio buttons • Best used when there is one choice, and only one, that must be chosen 31

Pitfalls • Poor alignment – the buttons are not clearly adjacent to a particular

Pitfalls • Poor alignment – the buttons are not clearly adjacent to a particular label • Unclear or ambiguous labels • The “lone ranger” syndrome – offering just one radio button 32

Feeling cornered • Users can’t deselect all radio buttons once one has been selected.

Feeling cornered • Users can’t deselect all radio buttons once one has been selected. They feel cornered. • Give users an out like “none of these. ” 33

Drop down boxes • Excellent for picking one item from several, such as names

Drop down boxes • Excellent for picking one item from several, such as names of cities, branches of a library, etc. • If possible, supply a default 34

Pitfalls • Overuse; everything on the form is a drop down box • Items

Pitfalls • Overuse; everything on the form is a drop down box • Items in the drop down list are not in a logical order to the users • The label is part of the drop down list rather than being adjacent to it 35

List box • Few items to hundreds from which to choose • Select single

List box • Few items to hundreds from which to choose • Select single or multiple choices • Show a reasonable number of options in the display area to facilitate scrolling through the list 36

Pitfalls • Failure to give directions on how to select more than one •

Pitfalls • Failure to give directions on how to select more than one • Error prone and often difficult for users to learn how to select multiple • The order of the items isn’t logical to users • Several choices start with the same word(s); scanning is slowed down 37

Submit button • Position it close to the last field • Make it look

Submit button • Position it close to the last field • Make it look like a button • If it’s a graphic submit button, make sure there is a text equivalent for screen readers and non-graphical browsers 38

Pitfalls • Putting the submit button in a nonstandard location • Making the submit

Pitfalls • Putting the submit button in a nonstandard location • Making the submit button look like a hyperlink rather than the standard button 39

Information design • Use color, white space, headings and labels to make the form

Information design • Use color, white space, headings and labels to make the form clear to users • Don’t overuse lines, colors and borders and create “chart junk” and clutter 40

Help: just in time, in-line works best Neiman-Marcus • Provides a description of the

Help: just in time, in-line works best Neiman-Marcus • Provides a description of the search tool with callouts and descriptions directly below the search area Divide and Conquer: Providing Web-based User Assistance at the Point of Use. Scott De. Loach www. winwriters. com/articles/embedded/ 41

Example: Expedia • Clear section heading • Use of # and color to group

Example: Expedia • Clear section heading • Use of # and color to group • Logical order • Fields labels • Fill in destination – Back end matching • Date – 2 choices 42

Forms • With some conscious effort, we can make web forms much better •

Forms • With some conscious effort, we can make web forms much better • Keep in the mind, as developers we must: – Ben Schneidermann • "Design test design test. " – Edward Tufte • "Design think design think. " 43