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I've been following the thread on form design for awhile now, and thought
I might kick in my two bits worth.
I've done quite a bit of form design, and actually enjoy producing a form
that is both attractive and functional. I haven't had the benefit of any
good texts on the topic, but here's what I have found useful.
1. I do, as someone else mentioned, begin with copies of forms already in
use. Many times, a minor modification to an already existing form is all
that is needed to meet a new need.
2. When I am redesigning a form, I take it to those who use it and get
feedback about what elements they like, and what would make it more
useful. We discuss what needs to be added or deleted to meet the
3. When I must design a form from scratch, I sit with the people who will
be using it and we work out the basic requirements. Then I take it from
The advice to use check-off boxes is good when it works. However, most
of the forms I've had to design required spaces to fill in account
numbers, descriptions, and various other specifications. When this is
the case, it is essential to work with the users to determine how much
space you need to leave for each item.
I try to make the forms as intuitive as possible by clearly labeling each
section and/or column. If needed, clear directions can be important.
I also learned to take into account the ways a form would be used when it
came to such things as shaded boxes, etc. For example, if a form is
likely to go out as a fax, shading can make it almost impossible to
read. It looks pretty, but may be totally impractical.
RoMay Sitze, rositze -at- nmsu -dot- edu
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