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Creating the Intelligent Form

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Introduction

How do you create a successful form that will entice visitors to submit their comments, but also make it informative and to the point?

This How-To Article provides you with some tips for creating the perfect form.


Creating the Intelligent Form

Don't present too much information. Try to condense the introduction paragraph to about 5 sentences at most. If you need to do more explaining, consider placing a link to a page that has the rest of the information.

Make sure you specifically specify which fields are required and which aren't. This is usually accomplished by starring (*) the fields that are required.

Don't make the form too long. Once you complete your form, browse it in your browser. Then, pretend you're in your web visitor's shoes. Would you want to complete the form? Is it too long?

Explain what each field in the form is for. Fields like first name and last name go without saying, but fields like "System Login Date" might need some describing. Consider placing information on confusing fields like these next to the field.

Be sure the form is organized. Don't place a field for your first name at the top of the form, and a field for your last name at the bottom of the form. Present the information in a logical order. Otherwise, many people will be confused with what you are asking them for.

Don't forget about security. Submitting anything through typical HTTP (the major Internet protocol) is not secure and can be intercepted. Never ask for confidential information through a web form. If you're asking for information such as passwords or login information, consider using a secure (HTTPS) server. Contact your host for more information on this.

Use a table if possible. If you know how to create an HTML table (or by using FrontPage's Table drawing tools), then create it. Layout the form in the table. The table allows very precise positioning and also allows you to make columns for your form fields.

Use the proper type of fields. If you want your visitors to select from a list of options, then use radio buttons. If you want to allow multiple selections, then use check boxes. When you expect your visitors to be entering lots of text, then don't use a regular one-line text box, use a multi-line (textarea) text box.

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