- 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: 7.5 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability (Interactive Technologies) 1st Edition
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“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
About the Author
Gerry Gaffney is managing editor of User Experience magazine.
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I bought this book at the same time I purchased Luke Wroblewski's Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks. His book is great but the limitations are there in the title. Luke W. has a great knowledge of design from the Web onwards. Many people forget that forms have been around much longer than the web and that UX design itself has decades of history predating the web. I can't say how clear it is to me that so many of the popular web-gurus out there don't know their roots.
Well, Carline Jarrett has been dealing with form usability since paper was the only way to go. The breadth of her knowledge lends itself to a much deeper understanding and offers far more insight into how users work with forms than any other book I've read. It's clear she has the expertise that someone who has only ever worked with web forms is lacking and as another reviewer put it this book is, "[the] missing chapters on forms from every other design book you've read." Forms That Work teaches you how to think about form usability from the ground up where Luke W's book reads more like a best practices compendium.
I'm also a huge advocate of accessibility and Forms That Work offers important information about keeping and making forms usable by everyone, another aspect that's missing from the other books out there.
This book shows you how to escape that model and create forms that really do work on the web. It tackles the subject from both the micro (colons, for example) and the macro (Social Exchange Theory) level.
It includes plenty of examples, checklists, and discussion (the authors aren't afraid to say when it's six of one, half a dozen of the other). The book is also very readable. Finally, I really loved their practical approach. There's a lot of expertise, years of experience, and lots and lots of usability testing behind this one.
The only possible issue I had was that the authors never really addressed templates or patterns - i.e., coming up with consistent forms. This helps both the user (by making the system more predictable) and the company (by making design efforts more efficient - no more reinventing the wheel).
Web forms are such an underappreciated part of the user experience. Almost every site has at least one, it often has as much impact on conversion rates and customer satisfaction as any part of the site, and it typically has major usability problems. But it usually gets a fraction of the attention that flashy features and functionality get.
When designers and marketers do focus on it, they have trouble reaching consensus on the best UX -- more so than with other areas in my experience. Marketers often see forms as a primarily about capturing data for analysis and for follow-up emails, leading them to ask for far too much info. Meanwhile designers often try to spice up this boring area by breaking conventions, leading to confusion and frustration.
Forms That Work offers the perfect antidote to this situation. The authors have many years of experience watching users interact with all types of forms, and they present their research and advice in highly practical ways. The book is well-written and well-structured, so is easy to read in sequence the first time or two. But for me its biggest value is as a reference source. Every couple weeks, I face a question around forms -- from progress bars to error messages to secondary buttons. Whatever it is, I always find it in the Forms That Work index, and within minutes I'm on much stronger ground.
Some aspects of forms have changed since the book came out a few years ago. But the vast majority has stayed the same, as has human behavior. Forms That Work will be highly relevant for years to come. It should be required reading for designers, developers, marketers, and anyone else who might influence a web form.