Search Form Usability
At uxmatters.com Matteo Penzo presents his findings from eytracking tests of web forms and gives some guidelines on designing search forms:
"In this article, I’ll present findings from eyetracking tests we did to evaluate the best solutions for label placement in Web forms. Today, forms are the primary—often the only—way users have of sending data to Web sites. Web 2.0 makes extensive use of forms. For example, on Flickr™, Del.icio.us, and Writeboard™—which, by the way, I used when writing this article—users provide all of their tags, comments, and other information using forms. Users submit queries to search engines using forms. E-commerce sites also rely heavily on forms that let visitors find and purchase products. (I’ve never browsed for books on Amazon®. I always search for them.)
So, the usability of forms is often massively important to the overall usability of a Web site. That’s why we decided to subject some of these forms to a quick round of eyetracking tests and have analyzed the resulting data to better understand what makes Web forms usable—or unusable.
We conducted these evaluations in the Consultechnology eyetracking lab. Magda Giacintucci assisted me in conducting the tests and setting up the lab. Three different groups of users participated in the tests. We classified the users by their level of expertise using the Internet—rookie, intermediate, and pro. In the pro group, I included people from my team—from both the programming and user experience groups. I’d like to stress the fact that it was our aim to do these tests quickly and simply, in order to gain practical knowledge that would help us improve the design of forms rather than to do scientific analysis for an academic paper."