For forms that aren’t very complicated, we prefer using a one-column layout instead of multiple columns. It’s makes it more clear for the user to complete fields one by one going down in a straight line rather than having to jump between columns, which might lead to their skipping some fields. Also, mobile devices make use of one-column layouts as there is not enough space for multiple columns, so using one-column layouts helps us unify our mobile and desktop platforms.
For more complicated forms, it’s better to use a multi-column layout. When you have many fields for users to complete, it’s better to position them into 2 columns to shorten the length of the form, making it more compact and straightforward.
Layout in Modals
Using forms inside of Modals is a common pattern across the product. Most of the time, forms in modals should be simple and straightforward with only a few fields. In modals, there is often not much space so you should use a one-column layout.
Grouping fields with related content
Whenever your form has fields with related content (such as various parts of an address), you should consider using groups. Consider making the gaps between related fields smaller to show the relationship visually. In some cases, it’s best to use InputGroups.
Using wizards (Step component)
If your form is full of content and there are a lot of fields to fill in, try splitting the fields into steps to avoid a long, unordered bunch of fields. By showing steps, you help the user understand what they’ve already done and what they still have to do.
Diversification of input types
There are many different types of information you can get from users. Some form components are more suitable for a specific information type. Using the right component could lead to a better user experience and so users filling in the form faster and with a higher completion rate.
For example, when you need users to upload attachments, you should use the InputFile component. When you want users to fill in the number of children on the trip, you can use an InputStepper component instead of the basic InputField. All of these input types have their own specific functionalities, so try to avoid using only InputField and Select components.
Working with calls-to-action
When working with forms, it’s important to have a clearly visible call-to-action. Make sure you differentiate between primary and secondary buttons.
The position of these buttons is also important, so always place primary buttons on the right and secondary buttons to the left of the primary button. When you don’t have enough space for buttons next to each other, always place the primary button above the secondary one.
Sometimes it’s very difficult to name these buttons. Try to use clear and short names to catch the user’s attention. This improves readability and therefore speeds up the whole flow.
This is probably the most important section of all. There are many approaches to how to handle errors in forms. We use inline validation, which is the best approach from our UX point of view.
With this type of validation, we don’t overload users with all messages at once, but only show the first error message in the form. The other messages are hidden but marked with a red exclamation mark. In this way, users can see that there is an error and will see the message after they focus on the corresponding field. This approach should be used across all forms we design. You can find more information about validation in the coming article about forms and errors.