SpoolCast: Web Form Design with Luke Wroblewski

Jared Spool

February 2nd, 2009

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Duration: 36m | 20 MB
Recorded: January, 2009
Brian Christiansen, UIE Podcast Producer
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When I tell people that one of our most popular conference sessions of all-time is about Web Form Design, people think I’m pulling their leg. Those people, of course, haven’t actually attended a workshop conducted by Luke Wroblewski.

Luke Wroblewski is a Senior Principal of Product Ideation & Design for Yahoo and has his own shop, LukeW Interface Designs. He is the author of two books, the new top seller Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks and the popular Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability.

Since writing a popular book on the subject, Luke has found himself inundated with questions tall and small about form design problems. He shared his two most asked questions (and answers) with me.

How many pages should my complex form be?
Of course, there’s no easy answer to this question. A key point to consider when resolving this challenge is context. If you met the person filling out your form in person, how would you ask them these questions? That will help you arrange the questions, and if you find natural groupings for many questions, these may be natural pagination points. If they don’t naturally break, perhaps that’s an argument for one long page.

Luke discussed Matthew Frederick’s 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School at this point in the conversation. He was particularly interested in the concept of parti.

Dynamic Forms, are they a good idea?
Forms where the site assists the user, when done well, can really help relieve stress on your user. A classic example of this is choosing a screen name for an account. No one wants to pick a name, password and hit submit, only to be told it’s not available and bounced back to the first form, with all the fields emptied to start from scratch… and still not knowing if the next name they choose will work! Live database queries for items like these can be a godsend. Additionally, language presented during these rich interactions presents the opportunity for a pleasant human interaction.

Good examples for dynamic interactions with forms can be found in the search box of Apple.com and the signup form for Jeremy Keith’s Huffduffer.com

Luke will be presenting his popular full-day workshop Web Application Form Design at our Web App Summit, this April, 2009 in Newport Beach, California. Why not come see what all the excitement is about?

Web forms have you down? You can always take comfort in the comments below… if you can endure our form.

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