but I guess the thing is that the Sitepoint forum might not be the best place to discuss UX and UI in depth. Maybe it's more of a developer's forum? Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Sitepoint for all the resources they provide. That's where I go when I want to figure out HTML or CSS related stuff (I'm a web designer and front-end dev), but when it comes to UI I think it's not happening here.
I'd say the same for Perl, actually. Everyone around here seems to use ASP/.NET or PHP for everything. For some reason there's still a forum for it though.
- a unique area in which to displays all messages like here
Amazon does that, I was answering their forms asking how my experience was with the marketplace 3rd-party vendors. Either it did not say that comments were required, or I missed it, and it was several tries before I saw their message that I needed to actually put something in the textarea.
contextual messages kinda like this
My husband's company uses these. They have the advantage of being clearly associated with whatever section is wrong, and on a white form they stand out. I only really like them when they tell me WHY my input was wrong... sometimes I can see it was a really stupid fat-finger but other times, I put in a truly valid email address and I keep getting "fill in a valid email address"... turns out, the company has too strong a regex that filters out allowable email address characters.
They are annoying, which is good if you must get the user's attention.
Wait, is this different from a modal window? I thought they were the same.
if these are the things that show up at the bottom of the screen, I'd miss most of them. My browsers sometimes put notices there, like that a download is finished... I only notice them because I see movement out of the corner of my eye, and I'm pretty sure I don't see the majority of them. This is not a good way to get someone's attention, which might be the point of a growl (not grab attention so much).
Now imagine you're using a screen magnifyer. You never saw it at all, and you don't know what's wrong with the form.
We bring back the form page, with everything still filled in, and a list of errors at the top. User can (if they want) click on an error and get their focus brought right to the bad field. The link text states what's wrong with the input. I would maybe call it similar to contextual errors.
There are problems with it, such as the middle error (you haven't filled in your damage-free years)... mostly because it's not obvious that if you have zero damage-free years, we request an explicit zero (just to prevent people from sending that input empty and claiming later they did have damage-free years, which is very important). I put error text outside forms because the Big 2 Windows screenreaders don't read non-form-controls if they are in a form in Forms Mode. Not all readers have a Forms Mode, but if they do, and if like JAWS10 it's automatic unless you turn it off, then the users won't read your error messages at all.
And then it occured to me that at least for the error messages, what if they weren't needed at all? What if the interface was so well conceived that it was impossible to make a mistake? I'm not talking about system or server errors of course because they are unpredictable.
That's the goal, but users can break anything.
You can reduce a lot of errors by reading usability studies. My future forms are going to be done quite differently based on the Eyetracking Web Usability report I got at the bookstore (Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice). But, you cannot remove all of them. People make mistakes, they mistype, they let their cats walk on the keyboards.