Forms that Work

1st Edition

Designing Web Forms for Usability

Authors: Caroline Jarrett Caroline Jarrett Gerry Gaffney
Paperback ISBN: 9781558607101
eBook ISBN: 9780080948485
Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
Published Date: 7th November 2008
Page Count: 288
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Table of Contents

Introduction: What is a form? What is a form?

1. Persuading people to answer Pick the right moment to ask a question Think about relationship question by question Follow three rules that that influence response rates Think about who will answer your questions Summary

Interlude: Registration forms: rules and suggestions

2. Gathering the right information Find out why you need the information Check if your organization already holds the information Find out what others ask for Summary: only ask for information that you need

Case study: conference registration form

3. Making questions easy to answer How questions work Make it easy to understand the question Make it easy to find the answer Judging the answer: avoiding privacy errors Placing the answer: avoiding category errors Summary: writing questions

Case study: avoiding choice points

4. Writing instructions Writing instructions Rewriting instructions in plain language Cut the instructions that aren't needed Move the instructions to where they are needed A before- and after- example Summary: Writing instructions

Interlude: help for forms

5. Choosing between drop-downs and other controls Picking controls for your forms How users expect controls to work Use these six questions to choose the right control Specialist controls may help Think about the form as a whole Summary: Providing the answer


Forms are everywhere on the web – for registration and communicating, for commerce and government. Good forms make for happier customers, better data, and reduced support costs. Bad forms fill your organization’s databases with inaccuracies and duplicates and can cause loss of potential consumers.

Designing good forms is trickier than people think. Jarrett and Gaffney come to the rescue with Designing Forms that Work, clearly explaining exactly how to design great forms for the web. Liberally illustrated with full-color examples, it guides readers on how to define requirements, how to write questions that users will understand and want to answer, and how to deal with instructions, progress indicators and errors.

Key Features

*Provides proven and practical advice that will help you avoid pitfalls, and produce forms that are aesthetically pleasing, efficient and cost-effective.

*Features invaluable design methods, tips, and tricks to help ensure accurate data and satisfied customers.

*Includes dozens of examples -- from nitty-gritty details (label alignment, mandatory fields) to visual designs (creating good grids, use of color).

*Foreword by Steve Krug, author of the best selling Don't Make Me Think!


HCI professionals, web designers, software developers, user interface designers, HCI academics and students, market research professionals, financial professionals


No. of pages:
© Morgan Kaufmann 2009
Morgan Kaufmann
eBook ISBN:
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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 Authors

Caroline Jarrett Author

Affiliations and Expertise

Effortmark Ltd, Leighton Buzzard, UK

Caroline Jarrett Author

Affiliations and Expertise

Effortmark Ltd, Leighton Buzzard, UK

Gerry Gaffney Author

Affiliations and Expertise

Information Design and Proprietary Ltd, Kingston, Australia