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I haven’t done an excert from le book in a bit, but something just set me off, so […]

I haven’t done an excert from le book in a bit, but something just set me off, so let me drop this sidebar on ya…

Submit Button Guidelines

Place the Submit button at the end of the form, at the bottom. There is a
quirky user behavior called button gravity11 that causes users to scroll to the
bottom of the form to find the Submit button, like a dropped apple heading
toward the ground. Take advantage of this; place submit where people will
look for it.

Tell people if they can’t back out. If this is the last button they have to push to
buy the 1969 copy of Murder and the Married Virgin on Abe’s Rare Books
site, for gosh sakes, warn them. If they are about to delete e-mail from those
heady, premarriage dating days that they’ve been hiding on a private web mail
account, warn them. Submitting a form should never be a horrible surprise. If
you can’t provide an undo, let people know there is no turning back.

Give people a button. Many sites now use JavaScript to submit the form for
you. You select an item from a drop-down list and you are whisked away to a
page. This is bad news for a couple of reasons. A percentage of users turn off
JavaScript because they consider it a security risk.12 It’s not a huge number,
but it may be enough to cause trouble if you don’t provide a button. Also, as I
stated earlier, many users “slip” on drop-down lists. Using JavaScript to autosubmit
means that not only do you have to reselect your choice, you now
have to hit the Back button first. Remove the submit button only after careful
consideration of your audience.

Call it something other than “submit.” “Submit” is what the invading aliens say
shortly before “Take me to your leader.” Label it with the function of the button.
If it logs a user in, call it “Log In”. If it registers a user, call it “Register”. If it
submits the credit card for a purchase, call it “Buy Now”. Be literal.

11. Jared M. Spool et al., 1999, Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide, Morgan-
Kaufmann Publishers, pp. 79–81.
12. Go ask your friendly neighborhood engineer about it. I bet she’s got JavaScript
turned off as well.


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  1. 2

    Submitting a form should never be a horrible surprise.
    Some personal websites have a link to a “Rate This Site” webpage. Once there, you can rate the site you just came from. That’s fine and good. But it’s annoying–as happens with at least one rating service–when clicking on the link itself counts as a “Yes, this is my favorite site!” vote. *That* was a surprise.

  2. 4

    My husband has told me if I write another book, he’ll divorce me.

    I’m going over much of this, though in some more detail at UIE 8 as well as what I hope will be a super great minitalk on professional effectiveness for designers, which is my latest obsession.

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