Forms that work: Designing web forms for usability

Paper forms

We love working with paper forms, but were persuaded that it was better to write a short book - so we concentrated on web forms. Most of the chapters work just as well for paper forms design:

Introduction: what is a form - works for paper

1. Persuading people to answer - works for paper. 

2. Asking for the right information - definitely works for paper, and some of the things we recommend such as watching people deal with the incoming forms are a lot easier to do with paper

3. Making questions easy to answer - definitely works for paper

4. Writing instructions - definitely works for paper

5. Choosing forms controls - focuses solely on web form controls, so it's not really relevant for paper

6. Making the form flow easily - the parts about validations are only relevant to electronic forms. The bits about breaking a form up into topics are relevant to paper

7. Taking care of the details - works for paper, although obviously on paper you can't enforce required field indicators so just leave them off.

8. Making the form look easy - the sections on grids and grouping are relevant

9. Testing - definitely works for paper.

Articles on paper forms

Two of Caroline's articles are about paper forms:

"Designing usable forms: the three-layer model of the form"

"Understanding the costs of data capture" 

Design advice for paper forms

Yves Peters ('unzipped') writes about font choices for paper forms

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Last Modified 2017-01-20