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Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability (Interactive Technologies) 1st Edition

28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1558607101
ISBN-10: 1558607102
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Frequently Bought Together

Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability (Interactive Technologies) + Letting Go of the Words, Second Edition: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies) + Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) (Voices That Matter)
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Editorial Reviews


“The humble form: it may seem boring, but most of your website’s value passes through forms. Follow Jarrett & Gaffney’s guidelines, and you’ll probably double your online profits.” - Jakob Nielsen, Principal, Nielsen Norman Group

“This book isn’t just about colons and choosing the right widgets. It’s about the whole process of making good forms, which has a lot more to do with making sure you’re asking the right questions in a way that your users can answer than it does with whether you use a drop-down list or radio buttons.” - Steve Krug, Foreword author and author of the best selling Don’t Make me Think

“If your web site includes forms, you need this book. It's that simple. In an easy-to-read format with lots of examples, Caroline and Gerry present their three-layer model -- relationship, conversation, appearance. You need all three for a successful form -- a form that looks good, flows well, asks the right questions in the right way, and, most important of all, gets people to fill it out.” - Janice (Ginny) Redish, author of Letting Go of the Words -- Writing Web Content that Works


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Product Details

  • Series: Interactive Technologies
  • Paperback: 199 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann; 1 edition (November 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558607102
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558607101
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a user experience and usability consultant. I work with organizations to help them make their forms easy.

I love working with forms - but it's not because I love forms. It's because so many forms are really not very good, so they give me lots of opportunity for making improvements.

How do you make a bad form better? Easy: test it with users and then make changes based on what you find.

My forms book will give you ideas for how to make those changes. My textbook will help you learn how to do better testing and user interface design in general.

You can follow me on twitter @cjforms - drop in and say hi, or ask me a question and I'll try my best to answer it.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jessica J. Enders on August 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
The web design world has been lacking in a books focusing on forms for a long time, then along come two: "Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability" and Luke Wroblewski's Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks. Both books are truly good but if you had to choose just one, I would recommend "Forms that Work", for two reasons.

Firstly, while Wroblewski comes from a general web interface design perspective, Jarrett has a forms background. This is important because as anyone who's read texts like Asking Questions: The Definitive Guide to Questionnaire Design -- For Market Research, Political Polls, and Social and Health Questionnaires and Measurement Errors in Surveys (Wiley Series in Probability and Statistics) will know, the exercise of collecting quality data is not a trivial one. In my opinion, someone with data collection expertise can apply that to the web medium more easily and effectively than someone with expertise in the web medium can learn the complexities of collecting data.

Secondly, in addition to specific advice about key aspects of a form's design, "Forms that Work" gives clear overall models for thinking about forms. These models enable the reader to make informed design decisions for cases beyond those covered in the book. This makes "Forms that Work" so much more than a reference.

Add to this the fact that "Forms that Work" is written in a conversational tone, has loads of real life examples (of both what to do and what not to do) and goes into just the right amount of detail, and you've got a extremely valuable resource for anyone who has to design forms for the web.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin S. Boyle on March 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
Forms that Work are fantastic - both this book, and the forms you'll create after reading it! If you've ever read a book on web design and thought "I wish it had more advice about forms" this book will fill in all those blanks.

Caroline and Gerry write exceptionally well, and evidently practice what they preach. This book is a concise and enjoyable read, and absolutely packed with useful and practical approaches to form design, beautifully illustrated with examples and backed by the years of research they have conducted into how people really use forms.

It gets straight into explaining effective techniques to approach the design of forms - it's all about the conversation between a form and a person. But it doesn't shy away from sticky design details. Do you wonder about placing colons on the end of labels or not? Do you ponder whether to put your labels above or next to fields, right aligned or left aligned? Read this book. Caroline and Gerry's straightforward advice not only answers those questions (and more), the answers relate back to the customer and the conversation in a way that truly will make better forms. Forms that work.

Why are you still reading this review? Buy the book.
n.b. buy it here and you'll get to fill out some forms during the purchase! ;)
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Matthew on November 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
As a web analytics consultant I often need to dive into the world of Usability in order to see the big picture. Measuring shopping cart or sign-up form abandonment rates is only 'my' side of the story, trying to understand which checkout process are stopping a visitor from completing your form or process is the other half.

Caroline Jarrett's and Gerry Gaffney's book "Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability" gave me instant insights into the inner workings of forms. Using three layers of understanding "Relationship", "Conversation" and "Appearance" Caroline and Gerry explain in a very fluid style of writing how to design an effective form.

The books reads very easy, but don't be fooled. Even though it is not heavily filled with often worthless specialist jargon, it is filled to the brim with important definitions, visitor's perspectives, design techniques and case studies. Just like "Don't make me think" by Steve Krugg, this book is an utter joy to read! I highly recommend this for anyone wanting to get the most out of their online forms.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kath Straub on June 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Forms that work" is a practical discussion of the challenges of creating effective web forms. It provides a common vocabulary for the critical elements of form design. It describes practical solutions and best practices through concrete examples accompanied by clear and specific explanations.

Two things about this book jump out:

- "Forms that work" highlights the PROCESS of form design in a hmmm-I-never-thought-about-FORMS-that-way ... kind of way. (OK, be honest. You sweat over/test drive every question on your user research surveys. But do you REALLY do that with every question on the web forms you create?) The process will be familiar to the Usability community. But its application to web form design has some unique twists and turns that are worth knowing about.

- "Forms that work" is the "Don't make me think!" of web form design.
It tells the story of how to create good web forms in plain language. But it does not lecture. Its information rich because it makes things less complex. The content is presented thoroughly, but its not belabored. The examples are well chosen.

The conversational style, the density of important insights the clarity of examples and just the right amount of humor will keep your interest. What that means is--and this is the important thing-- reading it won't make you tired of reading OR tired of forms. When you put "Forms that Work" down, you will feel like you know a lot more about how to create good forms. And, you will think about forms differently.

Who knew?

[PS. If you're one of the 11 people in the global UX community who has not read "Don't make me think," buy that one too.]
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