Inline Validation in Web Forms

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(This article was published in )

Web forms aren’t great conversationalists. They ask a bunch of questions, then wait until you answer them all before they respond. So when you register for that cool social network or use an e-commerce site, it’s pretty much a monologue.

You can blame most forms’ poor etiquette on the way they’re built. Web forms that use a basic submit-and-refresh model of interactivity don’t respond until you hit the “submit” button—but it doesn’t have to be this way. Real-time inline validation can help people complete web forms more quickly and with less effort, fewer errors, and (surprise!) more satisfaction.

Inline validation gives people several types of real-time feedback: It can confirm an appropriate answer, suggest valid answers, and provide regular updates to help people stay within necessary limits. These bits of feedback can be presented before, during and / or after users provide answers.

Putting inline validation to the test
To better understand the design considerations behind inline validation, I worked with Etre, a London-based usability firm, to test 22 average users on six variations of a typical web registration form. Aramys Miranda developed the form we used with our users, who ranged in age from 21 to 49.

One thought on “Inline Validation in Web Forms

  1. You might want to add an example of inline validation, I have been programming for 12 years now, so I get the concept.A person new to programing might be a little confused, as they seem to have a hard time understanding, client side vs server side. Which type of validation do you prefer? Ajax? plain old java script?

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