Guidelines for Mailto Forms Pages
The following guidelines are intended for the mailto forms used on the
www.washington.edu server. For more information on creating these forms,
please see the Web-based
email Form Handler documentation.
- Use the UW coordinated look and feel.
- Mark the "required" fields in one of the following ways:
- Use an asterisk with a note stating that asterisked fields are required.
- Use colored field descriptions with a note as above.
- Include the following somewhere on page (usually in the footer) :
- An email contact address or phone number
- Name of department who "owns" the page
- A link to the main page of the section
- If the form collects personal data, include a link to a privacy statement [See Writing a Privacy Statement].
- Do not use forms to transmit sensitive data such as social security numbers, health information, or credit card numbers. Since mailto forms send data in plain text, the unencrypted messages are not considered secure.
- Avoid using a "Reset" or "Clear" button. These buttons are often clicked by accident, clearing the user's input. Additionally, they are seldom beneficial to users. For more information, please see Jakob Nielsen's article on Reset and Cancel Buttons.
- If forms do include a "Reset" or "Clear" button, consider
putting in controls to decrease the likelihood of a user clearing their
confirm the reset. [sample form]
- Use form elements correctly:
- Use radio buttons, checkboxes, and selection lists to force a choice from a prechosen set of answers.
- Use textboxes, textareas, and password fields to allow users to type in their own answer.
- Radio buttons: used to force a single selection out of a group of choices that are shown in advance [example].
- Checkboxes: used to allow multiple selections out of a group of answers that are shown in advance. [example].
- Selection lists: appearing as a pull-down list, used to allow selection of one choice from a set of choices that are not shown in advance[example].
- Textbox: box used to allow a single line of user input [example].
- Textarea: box used to allow multiple lines of user input [example].
- Password: box used to allow a single line of user input, but the input is not shown to the user--instead, asterisks appear [example].
- Align form elements to make it easier for the user to understand and fill out the fields [alignment example].