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Forms: The complete guide

Capturing data online has been a field of design and implementation for many years. Also, designing the best paper forms has been around for more than half a century. A different medium doesn’t necessarily mean different design principles.

“Forms are one of the most important parts of any site or app – they are the most common way for our users to give us the information that we need to help them do what they want to do.”

(Martin Polley a.k.a. @martinpolley ~ Boxes and Arrows)

Flat UI and forms

Forms (digital and physical) are always the orphans of information design.

“Though some decry flat user interfaces as pure fashion, or the obvious response to skeuomorphic trends, many designers have embraced the flat approach because the reduction in visual styling (such as gradients, drop shadows, and borders) creates interfaces that seem simpler and cleaner. The problem is that most flat UIs are built with a focus on the provision of content, with transactional components (i.e. forms) receiving very little attention. What happens when flat and forms collide? User experiences can, and often do, suffer.”

(Jessica Enders ~ A List Apart)

Wizards Versus Forms

But where’s the magic from these wizards?

“When I find myself designing an application that is complex, either in terms of its length or its logical dependencies, my natural instinct is to take a wizard approach. Wizards are cool; forms are dull. Product managers love wizards because they are so Web 2.0. Developers like wizards because they involve more programming expertise than just cranking out forms.”

(Mike Hughes ~ UXmatters)