When I read on the Rosenfeld Media site that they published a book devoted just to web forms, I thought they exaggerated. I’ve always given form an important role in web design, but is it possible to write a whole book filled with patterns and suggestions without the risk of being repetitive and boring?
Luke Wroblewski succeeded in this task. You understand he succeeded because when you finish reading this book you’ll look at every form, designed by you or not, from another perspective.
The book covers every aspect of form design such as form organization, labels naming and alignment, input fields usage and my favorite, help text.
The approach of Web Form Design is very practical and you’ll find plenty of examples for different scenarios. Another good aspect of this book is that Wroblewski doesn’t present magic recipes.
How can we design good forms? Unfortunately, the right answer is a bit unsatisfying: It depends.
It depends on the business goals, user needs, and context of your forms. It may also depend on the issues or opportunities your usability testing, live site metrics, or other data sources illuminate. In other words, there isn’t just one right answer.
Fortunately, there is a way to go from the quintessential design answer of “it depends” to actionable solutions and ideas. We can do this by understanding the design considerations of the problem we are trying to solve. Design considerations are a combination of principles and patterns that provide a framework for finding appropriate solutions.
If you want to improve the way users communicate with you, this is the book to have. For more on form design you can take a look at this specific tag on my delicious library where you’ll find about 30 resources, some by Luke Wroblewski.