Fancy form design - create web forms that sparkle

Front cover of the book
Great tips as well as source codes that you can use straight away.

This is a light weight book that covers some basic information on form design that a beginner might find useful. It is short and a fast read with several ideas and concepts that will add to any developers thinking.

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Let’s face it, even the simplest of website needs a form. And any competent web developer will know the basics of designing a form. This book therefore did not live up to its name of “Fancy Form Design” – sure it has some good information but nothing that I would class as “fancy” or with a “wow” factor.

This is a short book that has a clear focus on designing forms. It has five clear sections with each building on the previous. Having said that, you can just as easily dip in and out of any sections for specific information as there are plenty of visual examples.

I appreciated the way the book has a case study theme which starts with the basic form elements and develops up to fully functioning interactive forms.  The first section deals with the planning phase and moves on to creating grids, typography, task flows, paper prototyping, wireframing, use of colour and micro imagery to make the form more interesting. The section on select menu, radio and checkbox styling as well as conditional question displays, date selectors, password strength indicators and a basic auto-complete were very interesting.

In the middle section, the book moves to the more technical matter of coding the form. Here there are a number of examples of how to build the form correctly taking care of the usability and accessibility issues. I must admit, in this aspect, this book is very good.

In the final section, there is good information on the correct practice for use of labels, error messages, required fields and help text. This leads to the use of CSS to style the final form and enhance it with the help of jQuery. Perhaps, there should have been greater detail given in this part as I felt it was a bit light.

In summary, this is a good book as a point of reference and presents the basics in a solid way. It did however disappoint me as I expected more from the title and did not give me the answers to the interesting challenges we face when designing forms.

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Fancy Form Design: Create sensational web forms that sparkle


Derek Featherstone


Sitepoint; 1 edition


November 2009



This page was last updated on Friday, 10th September 2010.