The opposite of what users think, an example of bad form design


I was filling out an form for Iowa State University admissions to research getting an Human-computer interaction (HCI) certificate. The overall user experience was extremely frustrating from figuring out which form to fill out to actually putting my information in the form. Here is an example of that form – which ended up being the wrong form to fill out for the HCI certificate. See if you can spot the issues with this form:

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In case you missed it, the red, bold asterisk (*) indicates optional fields! The total opposite of user thinking.

Take a look at the validation for this form as well:

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The color red is used to indicate errors, which reinforces the fact that the asterisks are being used wrong. Also the phone number format was never revealed until after the user tries to submit.

Hopefully the ISU HCI students will see this post and make some changes to benefit the users of this system.

Do you agree? Did they do it wrong? What did they get right?

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