Web forms that don’t suck

Responsive, accessible, mobile-first, and progressively enhanced forms

Web forms can be tricky business. Luckily there are some really smart guys out there keen to solve the challenges associated with doing web forms well. Making forms easy to fill out on touch device, making them easy to navigate for people using assistive devices, making them easy to visually scan, and making the look clean on any device is tall order to fill. Wish I could say I had the brains to figure this all out on my own but that just wouldn’t be true.

A little while back I ran across a great presentation by Aaron Gustafson on accessible, mobile-friendly forms entitled Falling in Love With Forms. He provided a lot of great information on how make forms not suck. Here is a series of form elements inspired by this presentation.

See the Pen Accessible, responsive, mobile-first forms by Mike Donahue (@mdonahue37) on CodePen.

More recently I came across an article on uxmovement.com entitled Why Infield Top Aligned Form Labels are Quickest to Scan that looked at the usability different form styles. They found that including in-field labels (not in the input element) top, left aligned were faster to scan and reduced visual noise. This codepen is based on those findings.

See the Pen More responsive, accessible, mobile first forms by Mike Donahue (@mdonahue37) on CodePen.

This is proof of concept and I’ve no doubt there are several other ways to handle this. There are few kinks I”ve yet to smooth out, if you see them and have some advice let me know. What are your thoughts or best practices on web forms in todays multi-device reality?

6 Reasons No One Needs a Fold Manifesto

This is an article I posted on LinkedIn. If you read “The Fold Manifesto” by Amy Schade of the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) and it has you convinced “the fold” is major design challenge, read this before you do anything rash like add a carousel to your homepage. Save yourself from worrying about one of the least important aspects of web design so you can focus on what truly matters – compelling, structured, well-organized, prioritized content.

Feeling Your Consumer: What Marketers Are Missing About Making Emotional Connections

In Feeling Your Consumer: What Marketers Are Missing About Making Emotional Connections, Douglas Van Praet offers some great insight into the connection between our emotion and motor systems based on research. This is great read for anyone that is truly concerned with successful marketing. It offers even more evidence that it is our emotions that drive action and not logic.

Big Data Only Tells Half the Story, If You’re Lucky.

We’re living in a world where our devices are tracking our every move. Google, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and countless other services are collecting crazy amounts of data on us. All this information is analyzed to uncover patterns of behavior so they and those they share their information with can better target us at every turn.

Many articles and books have been written that offer advice on how to improve an experience through design changes based on this big data. In fact an entire industry, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), has sprung up around the idea that big data can improve site performance. Can big data (quantitative data) alone be enough to realize the full potential of any experience? Can we forego in-person user research (qualitative data) now that we have so much data on WHAT users are doing? No.

Continue reading Big Data Only Tells Half the Story, If You’re Lucky.

Win User Loyalty by Targeting Logic AND Emotions at UXPA London 2014

Presenting at UXPA London 2014 BadgeI’m happy to announce I will be presenting an updated version of the Emotional Strategy for Balanced UX Design at the upcoming UXPA International Conference in London, July 22, 2014.

Win User Loyalty by Targeting Logic AND Emotions looks at why emotions are such an important factor to consider at every stage of design. It also explains when, where, and how to use emotions by looking at The 4 Stages of Accomplishing Goals. The 4 Stages explains HOW we experience everything.

After the conference I will post up the slide deck to Slideshare and hopefully I’ll have link to a video recording of the session to share as well. Hope to see you in London.

Emotional Strategy for Balanced UX Design

Emotions are arguably the most powerful of human motivators and yet most design projects lack an explicit strategy to use or target them as part of the overall experience design. A truly fulfilling experience is one that balances our logical and emotional needs and wants.

When an experience only satisfies the logical side of our mind we’re often left with little feeling of connection to the experience. When an experience only speaks to our emotional side we’re often left second guessing our choice because we can’t rationally explain our choice to ourselves or others.

A balanced experience that satisfies both parts of our mind are the ones that create deep and lasting connections. These are the experiences that build loyalty with customers creating lasting relationships that survive even the worst of times.

In order to use emotions as both a targeted outcome for the experience and as a strategy to achieve that outcome we must first understand how have an experience. The 4 Stages of Accomplishing Goals provides this insight into HOW we experience everything. These 4 stages are the same for every person, they happen every time, and happen in the same order.

The 4 Stages of Accomplishing Goals also explains where, when and how emotions impact and influence our resulting experience. We’ll learn not only how we experience everything but also WHY we choose to accomplish some goals and not others. Once we’re clear on the 4 stages we can make emotions a strategic part of building a balanced user experience.