Review: Fancy Form Design
Sitepoint has recently released a book called Fancy Form Design. Sitepoint was kind enough to provide me with a copy of it and being only 176 pages, I was able to finish it in short order.
Fancy Form Design is a quick read and has a clear focus: design quality forms. The book is broken down into 5 sections, each building on the one previous using a single project over the scope of the book. For a multi-author effort, this is impressive and appreciated.
The first chapter talks about form elements including browser built-ins such as checkboxes and select menus. It also covers enhanced widgets such as sliders and date pickers. This chapter also delves into research and interaction design.
The second chapter goes into form design from strictly a style and usability perspective. CSS isn't covered yet. In the third chapter, the actual HTML elements are discussed and goes through to form the markup of the example project. There is plenty of mention of accessibility throughout this chapter, which is very nice.
In the fourth chapter, we get into the nitty gritty of CSS. There's some initial discussion of reset stylesheets and then it dives into styling up the HTML from the previous chapter.
This book is to the point and while the content is quality and informational, $30 is pricey for this compact publication.
Thanks for the review--I was wondering if this was worth it for spicing up forms.
I remember ordering a JS book from them a while back--overall I like the quality and flow of the SP books.
The second thing you've reviewed were there is an undercurrent of "I don't want to piss these guys off but this isn't all that great." Not terrible, just not great.
@Paul: it's not about pissing anybody off. I like to be fair and straightforward and provide a balanced review. And I think I attach monetary value to how good I think something is. In this case, I didn't think it was good enough to be worth the price they're charging. You're right, it's not terrible, just not great.
do they mention 2 column form layouts?
I need to do this but can't find any resources.
I agree about the price-points. Sitepoint books always seems to learn towards the expensive side - not sure why. The content however, is usually good. Most of the time, when I want a sitepoint book, I'll opt for buying it on Amazon (about a $10 discount) or on EBAY.
Paul said that he has to do a 2-column layout.
First step: try to persuade the clients/colleagues/stakeholders to change their minds. 2-column layouts are a nightmare for usability - see my article "Two column layouts are best avoided" http://www.usabilitynews.com/news/article2992.asp
Second step: if you absolutely have to do the 2-column layout, then have a look at the advice in our book "Forms that work: Designing web forms for usability" - from all bookshops, or see www.formsthatwork.com
The main point: make sure that the reading/typing order is unambiguous.
Does the sitepoint book go into validation and what to do if JS is disabled? Also, I've been wanting to write my own formmail script in PHP but haven't found a good tutorial on how to write your own. Any suggestions?
I've been meaning to do some research on CakePHP. Thanks Jonathan.
If you are looking to get enquiries from your website, then creating forms that look good and will encourage people to fill them out is important.