- 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: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,630 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.
Top customer reviews
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The case study in the final pages basically sums up the entire book. It shows a form that the author/author's company redesigned. The form has misaligned textfields and the labels are to the right of the textfields. Their redesign moves the labels to the left, marks required fields with (*) and aligns the textfields. The developers creating these horrible forms don't need to read a book on usability - they need to find a different career. This is basic common sense.
I thought this book would shed some light onto some of the "data input" issues I encountered while recently developing a complex web-based school information system. At minimum, I would have expected it to cover date input thoroughly. Instead, on one page it shows a date input form with three comboboxes (for date, month, and year) and says "a calendar plus type-in box would be easier". Then it shows a happy face next to an example which has a date combobox, month combobox, and a calendar picker (and no type-in box!). And that's about it for coverage on date input. There's no mention of internationalization for dates, time input, etc. Meanwhile on a previous page it says credit card expiration dates should be "type-in" but gives no example of how the user should actually type it in (I personally think the way most websites do it is the most user friendly - two comboboxes - one for month, one for year).
Besides date input, I was hoping it would cover more complex form-related data input issues. For instance, let's say you have a form where a user inputs their work experience - with multiple work experience records. Do uses prefer adding work experiences inline with dynamic forms or do they prefer a list with popups in which each popup adds/edits a single record? There's absolutely no mention that these types of forms even exist.
There's also no mention of more advanced widgets for forms. For instance, I don't think it even mentioned forms with autocompletion or gave any advice for things like country choosers. I was really even hoping for something much more advanced - like new types of widgets people are now using in forms to improve usability.
Update: This book does cover basic forms thoroughly. So I did bump my rating to 3 stars. While the knowledge contained in this book isn't helpful to me personally at all, it may be useful for people who really don't have any sense of usability.
Even though I make a point of recommending Forms That Work--along with Ginny Reddish's excellent Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies)--every time I give a talk anywhere, I haven't actually re-read any of it since it was first published. Then this past week when someone asked me a question about forms, I pulled my copy off my bookshelf. I found what I was looking for right away, but then I started leafing through it, just enjoying all the great advice embedded in the headings, and dipping into some of the text and illustrations. I have to admit, it was even better than I remembered.
Here's my advice: If you have a form on your Web site, do yourself a favor and get a copy of this book.
That's crazy! Forms are often overlooked or given very little attention in the
overall design, yet they are typically the most vital element in any web page or
This book covers everything you need to know to build the most effective forms
that correctly capture the user information you require. If you create forms of
any kind, read this book. I know you will learn something.
Here are a few of my favorite takeaways:
that require identifiable information. Also, provide an explanation of why
you're asking for such info either adjacent to the form or the form field.
* Three rules to influence response rates:
1. Establish trust
- make it easy to contact someone if the user needs help
- the form and required fields must have clear purpose
- must be professionally designed
- keep advertising away from the form
- 100% functional; no defects or typographical errors
2. Reduce social costs
- provide progress indicators
- keep forms short and easy
- minimize requests for sensitive or personal info
- design questions that users can answer
- user error messages that respect the effort the user is making
- preserve user's info to reduce double entry in case of a mistake
3. Increase rewards
- clearly explain or outline the benefits of properly completing a form
* Create personas to assist in form design decisions. Have people not directly
involved in the form design help you create "stories" of people who will
likely complete your forms.
* Form field defaults should favor the user. For example, uncheck the email
subscription checkbox; it's probably borderline spam anyway.
* If you ask for information from the physical world, tell or show the user
exactly where to find it. For example, if a product serial number is required,
show a picture indicating the location of the serial number on the actual
* Turn negative questions into positive ones. Do not use double negatives,
negative words, or negative phrasing because they make questions harder to
understand. For example, "Is the information we have wrong?" should be written
as "Is the information we have correct?"
Most recent customer reviews
I bought this book at the same time I purchased Luke Wroblewski's Web...Read more
2) I can give it to colleagues, and it is so attractive and engaging and comprehensible...Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition. Jarrett and Gaffney have done it with "Forms that Work."Read more