Efficient creation of sensible and usable forms

Sensible Forms: A Form Usability Checklist by Brian Crescimanno takes a look at various areas of web form design and gives good advice for making forms usable. Nothing new or revolutionary, but a solid article that will help developers create better forms.

Creating forms has to be the single most time-consuming aspect of web development. In far too many website projects I end up feeling that I would have needed to spend much more time on the forms to make them more usable and intuitive. Often I also feel less than happy about the markup and CSS used to control their layout.

I'm sure many others feel the same way about forms, so I'd like to ask a few questions:

  • How do you tackle websites that make extensive use of forms?
  • Do you have a repository of form templates that you can choose from or do you start from scratch every time?
  • Do you take the time to carefully plan each form or do you just muddle through?
  • What about form markup and layout? Do you have predefined markup and CSS rules for every (or most) control plus label combo you run into, or do you cut and paste from earlier projects, adding or changing any combinations that are new or slightly different?

Please share any tricks you have that make creating usable forms easier and more efficient.

Update: I was checking my referrer logs and found that other people are asking similar questions: Forms Markup and CSS.

Posted on January 13, 2006 in Quicklinks, Usability