When it comes to web design, I think that one of the most forgotten components is the web form. I mean, it’s funny if you think about it long enough: web forms are everywhere; we use them multiple times throughout our daily interactions on the web. But how many of us have actually taken the time to design one? I don’t mean just throwing a username and password field onto a page and calling it a login form. I mean when’s the last time you sat down and really thought about what you wanted that web form to accomplish? If you were to were to try and design a form for your site – for registration; or a shopping cart; or even a simple login form, where would you start? Well, I’d start with Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks by Luke Wroblewski.
One thing I love about this book is that it’s highly technical without sounding overly opinionated. Luke’s writing style is such that he’s able to convey his message and back it up with data. Also, the question-and-answer style chapter titles like “Should I top-, right-, or left-align the labels for input fields?” allows for quick skimming when you have a specific design question you want an answer to. And when you find that answer it’s concise, well phrased, and easy to follow:
When you are trying to reduce completion times or if you need flexible label lengths for localization, consider top-aligned labels. When you have similar goals but vertical screen real estate constraints, consider right-aligned labels. When your form requires people to scan labels to learn what’s required or to answer a few specific questions out of many, consider left-aligned labels.
Wroblewski, Luke (2011-03-18). Web Form Design (Kindle Locations 272-274). Rosenfeld Media. Kindle Edition.
I highly recommend this book to anyone whose success relies heavily on users providing you with personal information. You can pick up a copy over at Amazon.