HTML and CSS Reference
While these suggestions require significant effort on your part, they pay
off many times over by making life easier for your users. Remember,
you create the form just once, but it may be used thousands or even
millions of times by users.
9.11.2. Handling Limited Displays
Although most PCs have been upgraded to provide resolution signific-
antly better than the 600 x 480 that was common when we wrote the
first edition of this topic, many devices (WebTV, cell phones with built-in
browsers, PDAs) dictate that form design should be conservative. The
best compromise is to assume a document-viewing window roughly 75
readable characters wide and 30 to 50 lines tall. [*] You should design
your forms (and all your documents) so that they are effective when
viewed through a window of this size.
[*] Some devices, such as cell phones, have tiny displays, as small as four lines. A better approach,
though beyond the scope of this topic, is to tailor your design to the device, using Extensible Stylesheet
You should structure your form to scroll naturally into two or three lo-
gical sections. The user can fill out the first section, page down; fill out
the second section, page down; and so forth.
You should also avoid wide input elements. It is difficult enough to deal
with a scrolling text field or text area without having to scroll the docu-
ment itself horizontally to see additional portions of the input element.
9.11.3. User-Interface Considerations
When you elect to create a form, you immediately assume another role:
that of a user-interface designer. While a complete discussion of user-
interface design is beyond the scope of this topic, it helps to understand
a few basic design rules to create effective, attractive forms.
Any user interface is perceived at several levels simultaneously. Forms
are no different. At the lowest level, your brain recognizes shapes within