[OT] Interesting Article on Form Design
scott at tactilemedia.com
Mon Nov 22 19:25:25 CST 2010
Recently, Bob Sneidar wrote:
> Is there anything written up on some acceptable standards about distance
> between input fields, and distance to top and bottom of form?
I'm not sure if there is any general study on this (haven't seen one
myself). But I know there are platform-specific HIG specifications that
specify pixel positions/spacing of interface elements around a screen, and
in relation to each other. Apps like Apple's Interface Builder can size and
snap controls into position on a screen using Apple's "recommended"
dimensions and spacing -- that could be one place to start.
But there are so many factors that could affect positioning, I'm not sure
how well this could be abstracted in your app: factors such as font size,
proximity to other screen elements, amount of information to collect, etc.
could all affect position. Also, if your process creates arbitrary forms
for accepting user input, I would hazard a guess that perhaps considering
the order/flow of the form might be a bit more important than the spacing of
the form's elements.
<TANGENT - maybe doesn't apply>
I recently followed an interesting discussion between user interface
professionals regarding the use of "wizards" to aid in data collection and
whether they were still appropriate. Some folks stated that wizards are a
viable means to help guide a user through a process, while a couple of folks
said maybe their use was outdated and a bit passé. But most people were of
the former opinion: a "wizard" type form is completely appropriate,
especially when the choices a user makes on one screen affect the options
available on another. Breaking down large sets of options into smaller,
manageable, less intimidating chunks is another reason to use a wizard, and
when all was said and done, several folks realized it's probably the term
"wizard" itself which we perceive as somewhat antiquated. But regardless of
how you refer to it, a wizard implementation is perfectly acceptable and
So in a roundabout (and possibly unhelpful) way, I guess I'm suggesting that
it would be really cool to see a tool that tries to apply some
"intelligence" into the creation of the form elements, possibly though
templates or layout suggestions, rather than just allowing arbitrary
creation of random forms elements. How to do that is the challenge :-)
Tactile Media, UX Design
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