Thursday, April 12, 2007


Form Design and Label Placement

While James Avery was working on a side project he ended doing some research into form design and label placement, the results of which he blogged here, The Art of Label Placement in which he links to several interesting articles:
Web Application Form Design by Luke Wroblewski - This article covers the best ways to arrange labels and submission buttons.

Web Application Form Design Expanded by Luke Wroblewski - Another great article from Luke W. expanding on the same topics.

Label Placement in Forms by Matteo Penzo - Matteo takes Luke's advice but applies eyetracking to evaluate how usable it is.
Our eyes and brain constantly ‘trick’ us into believing that much more of a scene is in sharp focus than actually is. In fact, the area of sharp focus, or fovea, is actually quite a small area of the total field of vision. Try it by staring ahead and checking things that are off centre.

In the last article, there is a marked difference in eye tracking times between the right aligned labels and the labels positioned directly above a control. When the labels are directly above the start of an input field, the label and start of field are obviously in focus at the same, greatly reducing eye movement, but how does this then relate to further cognitive processes? There is obviously a correspondence between saccade times (the time taken for the eye to center on an area of interest) and cognitive friction, but it is not clear whether it is in a strictly linear relationship.
“Eyetracking can show which parts of your user interfaces users see and which
parts seem to be invisible to them—not just by observing users and gathering
qualitative data, but also by analyzing their gaze plots and other quantitative
data.”: Introduction to Eyetracking: Seeing Through Your Users' Eyes

There’s no denying that good layout and interaction design is essential for creating happy users. And strangely, I’ve never seen any articles from Microsoft on the topic of eye-tracking for testing usability? Now we are in the Age of User Experience I’m sure that will change!


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