Check. And my No. 1 pet peeve: requirements
for formatting phone numbers, social security
numbers, or dates in a particular way, rather than
accepting any reasonable way? Check.
There were a few specific topics I was hoping
to see, such as dealing with credit card numbers
(verify the internal checksum instantly on the
client side), birthdays (avoid forcing users to
divulge their age when possible), time zones (infer
a default by looking up the geography of the visitor’s IP address). It would have been nice to see a
discussion about the incredible insight that can
be gleaned by scouring historical data for patterns of input and error.
I would also have been grateful for specific
treatment of international concerns, particularly
the details of how common fields like names,
addresses, and phone numbers should change for
users in different locales. This is difficult knowledge to come by, and often, these locale-specific
factors are the only thing preventing people from
around the world from benefiting from our work.
Wroblewski rightfully avoids giving blanket
advice to any given design problem. Again and
again, he emphasizes that the correct answer
depends on the situation. He follows through by
laying out what those factors are.
Wroblewski is upfront about the sources of his
opinions. Some of his claims are backed up by
published or unpublished usability studies. Some
eye-tracking studies were conducted just for the
book. And when no definitive evidence is available and Wroblewski must resort to his professional opinion, he says so.
The world of form design will continue to
evolve, and best practices will continue to
emerge. Hopefully, Wroblewski will return with
updated editions of the book as the field of inter-activity continues to mature.
Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks is an excellent guide for new or de facto designers and a
handy reference for veterans. Wroblewski has
done the dirty work for us in researching what
works best. By following his advice, we—and our
users—can quickly and competently get through
the forms and onto the fun stuff.
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ABOUT ThE AUThOr D. Philip Haine founded
Obvious Design, LLC, a San Francisco consultancy
specializing in product vision and design, in 1997.
His articles can be found online at Steal ThisIdea.
com. For more information on Haine, please visit