Building better HTML forms

10 Tips To A Better Form by Chris Campbell is a good article with many useful tips for increasing the usability of web based forms. I have some reservations about a few of the tips though:

  • 1. Markup: Be very careful when using the accesskey and tabindex attributes. The source order of the form controls should make sense, thus making tabindex irrelevant, and using accesskey is problematic since there is no easy way for the user to know about the shortcut keys and they may interfere with browser or operating system shortcuts.
  • 2. CSS: I'm somewhat skeptical to using CSS and JavaScript trickery to change the look of form controls too much. Besides, doing so does not work very well cross-browser: Styling even more form controls.
  • 3. AutoTab: I recommend thinking hard about when to use an AutoTab feature. In most cases users will not be expecting the cursor to automatically jump to another input field.

Posted on October 26, 2005 in Quicklinks, Accessibility, Usability