Beginners or older users are very likely to have only a general idea of what an asterisk might mean. This is the reason why it is a good practice to either put a note on the top of the form that indicates that all fields marked with an asterisk are required or to use required field markers. In case that all fields are required there is no need to place asterisks or markers in the form. A simple message that all fields are required is enough.
Last year, we conducted an survey on Web form design. This can be useful to you when deciding on required fields. Apart from ensuring that users provide necessary information, validation has to ensure that users provide information in the correct format.
This applies to various cases such as email address, URL, dates, phone numbers and others. If the information is not in the correct format, users should be informed and correct format should be suggested. This design pattern is also often called forgiving format UI design pattern. When dealing with data that is important to the system, it is a good practice to let the users confirm their input using additional confirmation fields. This way users can be certain that they provided correct information.
A typical case when confirmation field is used is for passwords, but it can be used in other cases like an email address. A confirmation field should be placed next or below the target field. If two values do not match, the user should be informed. As an option, you can use a success indicator if values DO match. The second part of our survey shows interesting information about confirmation fields.
If validation fails, the system should let the users know it by providing a clear and unambiguous message usually one or two sentences and ways to correct errors. Since users need to notice an error message immediately, it is a good practice to position it at the top of a web form, before all the other fields. This will also allow screen readers to easily access the message. The message should be shown preferably in red since this is the color that people usually associate with errors and it should contain an appropriate icon in order to get more attention.
Icon should be globally recognizable, such as a red circle with white cross. This will also help people with visual impairments identify the meaning of the message. In addition to this, users should be informed about which input fields need to be checked. Apart from the error message and a list of invalid fields, the system should clearly mark fields that are invalid.
This can be done in one of the following ways or any combination of them :. If you provide error tips or help, be short and informative. It is sometimes also a good idea to have these hints as the initial value of your input fields. The validation is executed and if any errors are found, feedback is returned and displayed to the user. This way users will be able to fill the form without any interruptions. But, that could be a disadvantage as well.
Users will be able to fix the errors only after they try to submit the form and get the response back from the server. This technique is typical for server-side validation, but can also be done on the client side. In contrast to the previous technique, real-time-validation alerts users while they are filling in the form. This way users will get immediate feedback about their input, e.
Obviously, instant validation occurs during typing in an input field or after the input field loses focus. Usually, it is complemented with a text message, tip or a status icon. Instant validation should be implemented carefully and in appropriate cases because it might be distracting if overused or misused. There are two things you should really try to avoid when designing form validation.
First, single error pages are bad practice. Singe error page means that users are redirected from the Web form they filled to a page that shows some feedback. In this case, users are forced to browse back in order to fix errors. When they browse back they will have to memorize the information you provided in the error message.
The same applies to feedback messages in popup windows. Not only are popups annoying, but once they are closed all the feedback is lost. This shows big variations in validation feedback. Apart from the pure validation, there are several techniques that can help users make fewer mistakes. Although not all of these techniques can be considered validation, they do help by guiding users and preventing them from making mistakes. If a web form requires complex information to be filled in, help hints can significantly help users in the process of filling in the correct information.
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