In the previous chapter “Designing Effective Output“, the rudiments of designing Web sites were discussed. There are more hints about designing a good Internet or intranet fill-in form that should be noted now that you have learned some of the elementary aspects of input form and display design. Guidelines include the following:
- Provide clear instructions, because Web users may not be familiar with technical terminology.
- Demonstrate a logical entry sequence for fill-in forms, especially because the users may have to scroll down to a region of the page that is not visible at first.
- Use a variety of text boxes, push buttons, drop-down menus, check boxes, and radio buttons to serve specific functions and to create interest in the form.
- Provide a scrolling text box if you are uncertain about how much space users will need to respond to a question, or about what language, structure, or form users will use to enter data.
- Prepare two basic buttons on every Web fill-in form: Submit and Clear Form.
- If the form is lengthy and the users must scroll excessively, divide the form into several simpler forms on separate pages.
- Create a feedback screen that refuses submission of a form unless mandatory fields are filled in correctly. The returned form screen can provide detailed feedback to the user in a different color. Red is appropriate here. For example, a user may be required to fill in a country in the country field, or indicate a credit card number if that type of payment has been checked off. Often a required field is denoted on an initial input screen with a red asterisk.
Ecommerce applications involve more than just good design of Web sites. Customers need to feel confident that they are buying the correct quantity, that they are getting the right price, and that the total cost of an Internet purchase, including shipping charges, is what they expect. The most common way to establish this confidence is to use the metaphor of a shopping cart or shopping bag. An important feature of the shopping cart is that the customer can edit the quantity of the item ordered or can remove the item entirely.
Ecommerce applications place additional demands on the analyst who must design Web sites to meet several user and business objectives, including setting forth the corporate mission and values regarding confidentiality, preserving user privacy, and easy and rapid product returns; the efficient processing of transactions; and building good customer relationships.