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Webform design

Hey! - I want to fill this nice form out...

3:30 pm on Feb 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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joined:Aug 11, 2006
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Hey all,

I am designing a new tour reservation form on our website.

I was under the impression that users hated web forms, but most if not all competitor websites seem to have them. Perhaps it is the bunch of unecessary info that they have to fill out that annoys people.
I intend to include a bunch of starter text explaining the process of filling in the form and mentioning that we can send a digital form as an attachment if people so require.

In particular I am wondering - would it be better if there was a text field for the address instead of text boxes for individual street, town, post code?

Any other tips and recommendations you have for creating a clear form? Thanks!

5:01 pm on Feb 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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joined:Aug 17, 2005
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If everyone just put the address then a text area would be the easy option.
But you know what them humans are like.

121 street
happy village
please tell posty to put the parcel behind the blue car next door.
My cat says hello.

plus all the other wonderful things users do.

Using text field allows you more control over checking each input.

If you use standard input names (name, street) for each textfield then some browsers will 'auto-majically' pre-populate the form.

There was an attempt at stadardising form names way back in the mists of time. RFC2706 [ietf.org] and RFC3106 [ietf.org]
<input type="text" name="Ecom_ShipTo_Postal_Name_First" />

The above form names do work. Or at least they did the last time I checked.

Make sure theres a logical focus to each field, meaning if someone presses tab it goes from first name, second name, streetname, town etc.

Use the label tag and make sure it applies to the correct form field.

And read these tuts

3:29 pm on Mar 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

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joined:Feb 21, 2005
votes: 0

would it be better if there was a text field for the address instead of text boxes for individual street, town, post code?

Absolutely, but it would mean a lot more work for you. Either a human would need to read the text, or you would need some kind of smart parser. An AJAX filler that worked on a zip lookup would be kewl as well. I've seen these used. They fill in the town and state fields.

I used to have a problem report page on a site I did. It had all kinds of fields that helped track down what the exact problem was, etc.

Everybody started using the regular contact form to report problems. I think the form only got used once.

I replaced it with a simple email-style form, and added a user agent sniffer. Now everyone uses it. Sometimes I need to go back and forth a bit, but far less than the original one, because the most common question is "What browser/OS are you using?"