Don’t touch that input element

Repeat after me: input elements should look and behave like input elements – that sounds easy, and yet so many websites are doing it wrong. Wrong as in; design overkill.

Fine by me if you want to design a submit button, textfield or any other input element – as long as it still looks & behaves like one. Visitors instantly need to recognize that textfields are textfields and that there is a submit button at the end of the form.

Lets start with two bad examples;

* Funky shapes but the <textfield> looks more like
a design element instead of something functional.

* Notice the oversized submit button on the right

To conclude everything, here’s a good (belgian made) example;

* Plain & simple – very usable.

It appears that with all the different CSS goodies we have, people start designing/styling almost everything – and that’s not always a good thing. Try to keep it simple – focus on the user and the way they will use your web form.

Don’t be ashamed to use browser default styled form elements – they’re here to help you & your visitors.

Some interesting read on form design:

Nielsen on sitemap usabililty

It’s good to see that more and more websites have a simple and usable sitemap (every good CMS should generate one by default).

Here’s what Nielsen has to say about those sitemaps:

One of the oldest hypertext usability principles is to offer a visual representation of the information space in order to help users understand where they can go.

I can only add: a well-thought-of site navigation + breadcrumb should try to give the visitor that same feeling.

People rarely use site maps. In Study 2, only 7% of users turned to the site map when asked to learn about a site’s structure. This is down from 27% of users in Study 1.

The good news is that users can actually find the site map in those few cases where they want to. In Study 2, 67% of the users successfully found the site map when we asked them to “Find a page that lists every part of the website.”

More facts an findings on Nielsen’s website.

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