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July 28, 2005 12:17 AM

Broken: reservation form

4seasonConnie Cheng writes:

This is the reservation profile I have to set up when I tried to make a reservation on Note that the field descriptions are inside the text boxes, and when I click on the box, it is automatically cleared for me to enter the information. What am I supposed to put into the first text box? I have no idea unless I click on another text box *without* entering something into the first one, otherwise the description won't show up again.

Is this in any sense better than putting the field description in front of the text box? It doesn't look very "styled" to me anyway, which is the only reason I can come up with why they are doing this. Very broken.


This is a stupid design if you are forgetful, but the top field is what makes it totally broken. I can be forgetful some times, but this is just one of those things that can be changed if people decided not to be lazy, but little things like this can move so many people away from the product or service.

(P.S. First to post!)

Posted by: Cameron at July 28, 2005 12:39 AM

The first field in the form is broken. The fact that it is automatically selected, clearing the form, is undeniably broken. I think this is one submission where no one will be able to say 'it's not broken' and give some obscure reasoning as to why.

Posted by: Jesse at July 28, 2005 12:42 AM

The fact that the first field is auto-selected *at all* is a design flaw to my mind. I can't stand forms on pages that automatically select their input fields, whether it be a search box on a news site or the login form at my bank.

This practice renders keyboard navigation of the web page (space to scroll down, shift-space to scroll up, backspace to go back, etc) effectively useless. In the case of my bank login, I've usually already filled in my username before the page is fully loaded... and when the page is done loading the javascript used to highlight the first input is executed, so I'm suddenly typing my password into a plain text input when I already had the password box selected! Taking control away from the user... ugh!

Posted by: Chris Clark at July 28, 2005 01:31 AM

That's pretty obvious! You have to enter your username or e-mail. I mean, if it asks for your password after, following the normal trend, the field must be for the username or e-mail. But it could be confusing for some people though, and they're simple ways to fix that. And a tip for webmasters, Always check your pages everytime you make a change, to make sure everything is ok, trust me, somethings get messed up, even though you think it's "mess" proof. (BTW, I think this is my longest comment here amd anywhere else, ever!)

And to Mark, I really admire you! You have a super enterprise and at such a young age! And remember, I always back you up, even though before, sometimes I didn't show that... Sorry again! And a shout out to "unknown"!

Posted by: at July 28, 2005 02:48 AM


Posted by: noname at July 28, 2005 06:05 AM

The fact that you have to make a user profile to reserve a hotel room is broken.

Posted by: Bob at July 28, 2005 06:48 AM

No.... Incenpr is back! Die Incenpr, Die!!!!!

I agree with the post a simple 5 minute change to put the form field names in front of each of the fields and it would be much easier to use.

Posted by: Joshua Wood at July 28, 2005 08:26 AM

Chris Clark has identified one the most holrrible attributes of autoselecting fields. I don't know how many times I've found myself typing my password in a plain text field because of this. To add insult to injury, many of the occasions when this happens, the page was loading slowly because of some tracking server was being slow to respond with its invisible GIF or whatever it was supposed to do.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at July 28, 2005 08:31 AM

I agree with Bob; not only is the form broken, but the idea of creating a user profile to get a hotel room is broken. Unfortunately too many websites these days make this attempt to force a "relationship" where the user/customer does not need or want it.

Posted by: cmadler at July 28, 2005 10:16 AM

"That's pretty obvious! You have to enter your username or e-mail. I mean, if it asks for your password after, following the normal trend, the field must be for the username or e-mail. But it could be confusing for some people though, and they're simple ways to fix that. "

But the problem that was being highlighted is that the form has the desrcriptions of whats susposed to be inputted in the text boxes.. perhap a better screenshot would have been to have selected the home telephone or pager box.. but this is BROKEN BROKEN BROKEN.. bad design.. when it would probaly be pretty easy to make it so it does the standard for forms with the description of what should go in the box to the left of the box

Posted by: infinity at July 28, 2005 10:37 AM

Why are some fields yellow and some white?

Posted by: mph at July 28, 2005 10:41 AM

Wow, this may be the first time everyone agreed that something was actually broken! BTW I agree, definintely BROKEN.

Posted by: Ed at July 28, 2005 10:42 AM

How dare you take my name!! D:

I agree, this is broken.

And MH, I suggest have a signup form, not just "Put your name and post". I've seen too meny instances where somebody takes the name of an other. Like now.

Posted by: Infinity at July 28, 2005 10:43 AM

Definitely broken, but I actually like pages that auto-select the first form as long as that's the main purpose of the page (login page, etc)

Posted by: Michael at July 28, 2005 12:31 PM

thats is wicked broken, putting the directions outside of the box would just be as hard as putting them inside to box. And that text can be hard for some people to read since it is grey

Posted by: unknown at July 28, 2005 12:43 PM

Broken. Bad IA and more work on the back end instead of just putting the field descriptors to the left of the form fields.

But can the folks that object to creating an account answer me this: many other e-commerce sites "force" a relationship with me when I want to purchase something by making me create an account. I've grown accustomed to it by now, so while I mind having tons of "accounts" with businesses I may never spend another dime with, I can understand it, especially after seeing some of the considerations and use cases on the back-end.

Posted by: Jennifer at July 28, 2005 01:11 PM

Sadly broken..I loathe autoselecting fields..Prime example? I live in Texas, which follows Tennessee alphabetically, and everytime I type my automatically selects Tennessee and my xas ends up in the next field. Pain in the xas!

Posted by: picklejuice at July 28, 2005 02:23 PM

mph, some fields are yellow because the person is using google toolbar which has an autofill function which automatically fills out forms. It shows what fields it can fill out by highlighting them yellow. I use it all the time and it's a real timesaver.

Posted by: Joshua Wood at July 28, 2005 05:03 PM

One note...I decided to try out the registration page personally, and in IE 6 the first form field was NOT automatically selected, so I was able to see what info was required. It's a shame the form is so crappy because the rest of the site is well designed, at least from what I could determine from the 2 minutes I was there.

Posted by: Jennifer at July 28, 2005 05:58 PM

What's broken is this guy is using IE 6.

Posted by: Jello B. at July 28, 2005 09:12 PM

I work on the Four Seasons site. As it happens, we are in the process of redesigning this form (although the version described in this submission has been online for sometime with little or no complaint as far as I am aware). This approach to field labelling was decided upon after we reviewed a similar Flash-based form implementaiton on another site, which we thought was rather elegant from a layout standpoint.

Nevertheless, for our next version we have pretty much decided to forgo this method in favor of text labels to the left of each field (which is what we use for most of the other forms on our site); simpler to implement and less confusing to the user.

I will say for the record that there is no intent to auto-focus the first field, nor any code in place to do so. That would ineed be unequivocably "broken." I have double checked the pages in question in Firefox and IE and am not seeing the auto-focus behavior described.

Thanks for being vigilant about good UI design on the web. We take the problem very seriously and have spent a good deal of time and effort trying to get it right. While opinions can differ greatly on good vs. bad, we continue to search for the best balance between good looking design and usability.

best regards,

Aaron Harder

Posted by: Aaron Harder at July 29, 2005 06:58 AM

OK, Mr. Harder, I haven't seen this site in particular, but on other sites such as, i've seen auto-focusing. MSN, in all of their evil splendor, assumes you'd rather search MSN than type in a site. It'll derail you in the middle of typing so that most of the URL you typed is in the search window.


I hate MSN.

Posted by: Bob at July 29, 2005 08:28 AM

Infinity - I agree. It's not cool having people steal your name... Back off Michael, I was here first. ;-)

I am a web developer, and I really don't like this particular solution for a form. On the other hand, it can help with layout a bit because you don't have to squeeze both field and caption into the form. Personally, regardless of my form layout, I always use the title="" attribute on the form field -- browsers display this as a tool-tip over the field, helping alleviate any possible confusion.

What *isn't* broken is Mr. Harder responding to the issue. Way to go!

Posted by: Michael at July 29, 2005 01:38 PM

Yeah Now i have taken both your names LOL

Posted by: Michael Infinity at July 29, 2005 08:32 PM

BTW, NOWHERE in the description does it mention that it autoselects the first field. Who came up w/ that idea??

Posted by: Person at August 3, 2005 06:20 PM

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