I think what we all took away from the latest conference is that the Future of Web Design isn’t clear yet. It expanded on a conversation I had with a friend the other day where we decided that in the last few months web standards has hit a lull. During @media2005 everyone was so excited to be there talking shop and swapping ideas that we couldn’t wait to get back to our desks to put into practice what we’d been shown – zoom layouts, microformats, etc. But fast foward 2 years and there just isn’t anything to get our teeth into.
To continue the conference’s theme, I’m not going to be discussing the title of this post – instead I’ve written up the only notes that I took during the day (during @media I couldn’t keep up with the note taking, I really hope it will be similar this year).
10 Top tips for building web forms
This presentation was given by Ryan Singer from 37Signals and he should have been given a 40 minute slot instead of the 15 minutes he had. There were 10 tips, but these were the ones I thought were of most use:
Make it easy
It’s harder for users to come up with new information (i.e. usernames/password) than it is to write out factual information (i.e. name/address) – therefore put easy questions first to hook user.
Make real-time suggestions for alternate inputs
E.g. usernames “Perhaps try: emmasax99 or emmasax2007”.
Only ask for smallest amount of information to get the user started
Ask for extra details later within application.
Make labels human friendly
Don’t just use the column headings from the data table.
Allow superfluous data in inputs and filter on the server side
E.g. don’t make extra work for user – allow brackets and dashes in telephone numbers “(01483) 100-100”.
- Give examples next to inputs
Don’t shout at users if they get a part of the form wrong
Help them through it as though you were standing over them, i.e. “Please check item X” instead of “ERROR – incorrect telephone number format”.
Make the sign-up email simple
Put extra information within the application, i.e. within a welcome tab.
I think some people have lost their enthusiasm about the conference circuit but I’m still looking foward to @media2007 in a few months time – I want to be refreshed, taught and inspired!