Robin Camille Davis
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How to make a bad web form

June 12, 2023

My UX passion is web form design. Not joking. Improving web forms brings me great joy and fulfillment. But who is making these forms bad to begin with? Turns out, there’s a dastardly monster making our web forms terrible.

Imagine an unsuspecting user filling out a time-consuming application online. They accidentally hit the back button, lose all their work, and have to start all over. Or imagine a user who is trying to submit a form, but it responds vaguely with “You have made an error,” making them hunt for the error instead of telling them where it is. How about form fields that force the user to format phone numbers in a specific way, like adding parentheses, spaces, and dashes?

Yes, these are all terrible web form practices! When people encounter them, it feels antagonistic, like someone on the internet wants to cause them frustration and waste their time… Well, they’re right: I’m the Web Form Fiend, the villain behind it all. I’m the bad guy. It’s me.

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I write monthly posts for LibTech Insights, a blog about technology in academic libraries from Choice, an ACRL/ALA publisher.