January 27th, 2009
Most online design requires the designer to focus on two separate but equal elements. The content of the design and the chrome that supports it. (Do you think I’ve watched too much Law and Order over the years?)
Take a multi-step dialog sequence, such as, say, signing up for a new account. Each step will have the content — the fields the user will fill in, including their name, address, and billing information. Yet, each step also requires some user interface chrome — those design elements that move the user to the next step (or back to the previous one, when something needs revisiting).
What I find interesting is, often in the design process, we focus more on the chrome than on the content. Yet, it’s the content that is most important to the user — the part of the UI they need to focus on most. The chrome, when it’s working well, should seem invisible and natural.
In today’s UIEtips article, Previous and Next Actions in Web Forms, Luke Wroblewski shows us what we need to know to make an important part of that chrome invisible: the Previous and Next actions. He’s done a fabulous job of dissecting the problem and talking about exactly what needs to happen to make the interface seem natural to the user, which, in turn, lets them focus on the content.
Luke, of course, is *the man* to talk to when thinking about these things. His brilliant book, Web Form Design: Filling In The Blanks, is chock-full of great insights. We’re pleased he’ll be repeating his full-day seminar, Web Application Form Design, at our upcoming Web App Summit.
What’s been your experience with the sticky problem of Previous and Next actions? Do you have a solution that works well with your audience? We’d love to hear your experiences and questions. Leave a comment below.Tweet