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Whatever functions forms may have (collecting information, contact forms, surveys, search functions, navigation and special script applications), interaction with the visitor is key.

Accessible forms

Web developers can improve the accessibility and organisation of a form by means of a few simple HTML elements.

  • Input fields and labels

    Input fields in forms are often accompanied by ‘labels’: textual explanations of what type of information the visitor is expected to enter in a specific input field: the label element. Read more

  • Forms and keyboard navigation

    As on links, the tabindex attribute can be used on input fields. The web developer can use this to influence the order in which a visitor navigates the content of the form by means of the keyboard. Read more

  • Grouping input fields in forms

    Input fields and their labels in large, complex forms, can often be arranged in grouped together. Grouping input fields (and the relevant explanation) renders a form more accessible and easier to survey: the fieldset element and labelling fieldset. Read more

Forms for navigation

Sometimes web developers do not use forms for collecting information or for search functions, but as a user interface for navigating the website. Read more

Forms for special script applications

Many of these forms are special script applications, such as scaling the font size on the pages, varying CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for a modified appearance or other preference settings. Do not confront a visitor with an ineffective application when using optional technologies – for instance client-side scripts and CSS – that are not supported by the browser. Read more

Accessibility of form results

When drawing up forms, web developers should ask themselves whether the results of the submitted form should be accessible through a sustainable and unique URL. Read more

Web Guidelines version 1.3, November 2007.