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Simple Ways To Improve Your Web Forms

Oct 29, 2007
Web forms are not necessarily highly complex codes that boggle the mind. But if you are just starting out, there is likely some room for improvement - and you may even welcome a helping hand. You have likely encountered web forms that did not function properly or were poorly designed, but do you know why? When you begin to write your own form, you will see how easy it can be to fall into some of the common traps of creating web forms. There are some things that you can do, however, to make your forms cleaner, more efficient and much more user friendly.

Avoid Large Drop Down Menus

Drop down menus that go on forever are distracting and annoying. You don't need every conceivable option available. A scroll bar for a large drop down is not very convenient and can annoy your visitors, possibly even discouraging them to click away from your site. Let your visitors' type in their information instead.

Offer Suggestions

One of the best things that you can do for your visitors is to help them with their decision making. You can do this with usernames, domain names and passwords. For instance, when a visitor selects a name that is already taken, instead of informing them that it is not available, give them some choices to help the out with their decisions.

Help Out the Double Clickers

Some people just naturally double click on buttons, particularly when they are labeled "submit." Adjust your form to work with the person who commits this blunder instead of punishing them. One option is to use Java script so that the submit button is grayed out and disabled after the first click.

Do Away with Confusing Formats

Keep it simple when it comes to your web forms. One type of format that tops the list for annoying formats is the birth date that insists on the entering the information exactly as "dd/mm/yyyy" and when it isn't entered per specifications, the form rejects it and demands it be changed. Keep your forms simple and avoid too many confusing formats. This is much kinder to your users.

Modify your Display Warnings

When a form is not filled out correctly, one of the most frustrating things that your visitor can see is a blaring pop up demanding that the user fix something on their form. A better way to accomplish this is to use red font or a red border within the page to highlight the areas that need attention. Dialog boxes that require you to click "OK" are a waste of time and a turn off for your visitors.

International Respect

When you are creating your web form, keep in mind that you will be reaching to many different types of people from all over the world. If your web form ignores the rest of the world, then you are severely limiting yourself in the type of response and amount of responses. You would do better to leave an area that allows your visitors to designate their country, postal code and other identifying information.

Short Web Forms

Your web form will be more attractive to your visitors if it is kept brief. Stick to the information that you need to complete the form and save the extra requirements for another form or an optional activity. People don't like it when you waste their time, so keep your forms short. Also, many people will be more inclined to complete a form that has optional information (and often they provide the optional info!).

If you can stick with these tips you will create web forms that are more user friendly and much more appealing your visitors.
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