Joe's Reviews > Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks

Web Form Design by Luke Wroblewski
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Aug 14, 08

bookshelves: design
Recommended for: Web developers and designers
Read in July, 2008

There’s a pretty good chance that you will fill out a form today… and tomorrow… and the next day.

Forms are everywhere you look–we rely on them for nearly everything from searching for information to ordering some goods to balancing your checkbook. As anybody who has encountered a poorly-designed form can attest, when forms are confusing or difficult to use they have the power to bring everything else down with them. A truly evil form can send your world spiraling out of control into a cycle of horror and dismay.

Obviously, good form design skills are critical–they could spell the difference between running your website like the RMS Queen Elizabeth II and running it like the Titanic. Until recently, there was no standard guide to help web designers through the treacherous swamps of form design. In May 2008, Luke Wroblewski let loose his Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks, the book that might be just what we have been craving.

From cover to cover, Web Form Design is an easy read with ample pictures that clearly illustrate its concepts. Concrete examples are demonstrated that address many different aspects of form design. Additionally, this book isn’t filled with pages upon pages of dry writing, each chapter is an ocean of knowledge that gets right down to business and thrusts the facts of research straight in front of your eyeballs. Throughout the book, Mr. Wroblewski presents the results of a solid foundation of usability testing so that your design decisions can be based on actual results instead of personal preference. Finally, each chapter ends with a summary overview of the main points–definitely a helpful feature that augments the learning process.

Most importantly, Wroblewski doesn’t just stop at the layout of web forms, he touches on every aspect of web form design. He warns about unnecessary fields, gives pointers on constructing useful error and success messages, and provides ideas on dynamic form behavior and gradual engagement.

I highly recommend Luke Wroblewski’s Web Form Design for anyone who is even thinking about designing a form for the web. Best of all, you can save a tree and have it right now by purchasing it in DRM-free PDF format. What more could you ask for?
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