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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 23 March 2010
I wrote the foreword for this book, so obviously I think very highly of what Caroline and Gerry have to offer. (Eveyone who knows how much I hate writing will understand that agreeing to do the foreword means I *really* liked this book.)

Even though I make a point of recommending Forms That Work--along with Ginny Reddish's excellent Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies)--every time I give a talk anywhere, I haven't actually re-read any of it since it was first published. Then this past week when someone asked me a question about forms, I pulled my copy off my bookshelf. I found what I was looking for right away, but then I started leafing through it, just enjoying all the great advice embedded in the headings, and dipping into some of the text and illustrations. I have to admit, it was even better than I remembered.

Here's my advice: If you have a form on your Web site, do yourself a favor and get a copy of this book.
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on 24 January 2009
Anyone who creates or commissions forms must read this book, by authors with extensive practical experience of creating successful forms. Although the sub-title refers to web forms, much of the content is equally relevant to paper-based forms.

The book is also a must-read for anyone who works in marketing, because it will give them an insight into why the design of forms must be user-centred, not simply to fulfill marketing requirements.

The book starts with an explanation of the three layer theory of forms: relationship, conversation, and appearance that forms the backbone of the book. It emphasises the importance of using persuasion to get people to fill in forms, and gives an insightful and helpful approach to the answers that people need to provide: the no-brainer "slot-in" answer, the go and find it "gathered" answer, the go and ask "third-party" question, and the think it up "created" answer.

It is easy to read, with many illustrations, and backed with strong references in the excellent Further Reading section. Supported by examples and interesting case-studies, this is a great companion to Janice (Ginny) Redish's "Letting Go of the Words" from the same publisher.
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on 28 July 2015
Great book on form design, probably the best you can find on the market. Takes a thorough and holistic approach to the creation of easy and understandable digital forms. Only downside is that due to it's age it doesn't include any mobile design considerations.
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on 6 January 2010
Forms are one of the more common parts of today's websites and also the cause of many usaility problems. As people use more transactional websites requiring them to provide information online the importance of forms will only increase. The mindset of users changes too once they encounter forms (the data protection fears come up and they often recall their nightmare worst registration form) so what may seem just a small thing can have bigger consequences.
This book is a great reseource from two experts in the field and thankfully, unlike many online forms, the book itself is quite usable. The illustrations and examples are great and make the most of positive and negative examples. Like another good resource, Letting go of the words , by Ginny Reddish it uses icons of smiley faces to indicate the problem or good example and therefore keeps the book skimmable. It is also quite comprehensive in the range of forms that it covers. Highly recommended for anyone looking for lessons on best practice in online form design.
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on 12 December 2012
Well written study on web forms that has helped me when devising tests for clients. Read a review on here that said it 'stated the bleeding obvious' which I don't agree with unless the reader has the ability to retain information in huge proportions (I don't). This is an excellent reference book that I will continue to dip in and out of when devising test recommendations to improve form usability. Highly recommend it.
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on 8 April 2011
Although I've spent a lot of my time designing forms, I found this book to be full of useful little tips on getting the details right. It's a great guide for anyone building a one-off form, and an equally great reference for frequent designers to make sure they're making their forms as effective as possible.
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on 7 September 2014
That a book on design appears to have so many formatting errors: duplicated images, repeated paragraphs, etc. Disappointed as not a cheap book and would expect better for this sort of cost. On a positive note, the information within the book does appear useful.
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on 21 February 2010
Jarret and Gaffney have written a book that on first scan results in you muttering 'Bloody commonsense, surely'. Improving online forms is commonsense, but there are still many atrocious examples out there to warrant a more thorough reading of this book.

The authors categories the users of online forms into

* readers
* rushers
* refusers

And it is these last two on which those running websites need to focus. Simply put, if someone refuses to complete your online form, because you have made it difficult for them, they are either going to pick up the phone, send you an email or visit a competitor's website - all of which will cost you money.

Although quite a few of the examples of poor forms are culled from government websites (slightly too many in my view) they act as great reminders of how not to do it.

The book is written in a engaging, folksy style (a la Steve Krug, who wrote the forward and is responsible for the seminal usability book 'Don't Make Me Think'Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability), and the authors clearly have lots of experience upon which to draw.

A few irritations would be the amount of blocked out details (note to authors: postcodes don't have to be real to get the point across) and the book's billing - Steve Krug, from Amazon's title description appears to be one of the authors - stretching it a bit in my view.

Overall, a very useful book and a poignant reminder that what seems to be obvious ways to improve online forms are just that - but sadly that website owners are still infuriating their users with poorly conceived forms.
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on 18 April 2009
This is the best web usability book I've read so far, and it brings the focus to web forms which other books fail to do and which is urgently required.

The advice is practical and useful, though not always entirely accurate in my view, and though the author gives some attention to the needs of international users of web forms (and there will be many of them), they do not go into anything like the depth required. They also don't give enough attention to the quality of the data being gathered and how this is changed as the web form improves.

All in all, though, a much needed book. If your site will contain a form, read it!
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on 15 September 2010
Some of the books in our office live tidily on the bookshelf. This one is always open on someone's desk. That says it all really.
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