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Using structured inputs

From: Applied Interaction Design

Video: Using structured inputs

So I've gone ahead and entered some of my information to place this order. There's just a few pieces of information left to add to this. I need to specify my state. This is a really common drop-down selector, so I can just say California. I'm sending these to myself because I'm going to give them as gifts. That's our scenario, remember? And so I want the date. Hmm, when can I get this? It says only available Monday through Friday. Now, I need to actually go find a calendar somewhere else and look up a date that I might want to get delivery for. Let's see.

Using structured inputs

So I've gone ahead and entered some of my information to place this order. There's just a few pieces of information left to add to this. I need to specify my state. This is a really common drop-down selector, so I can just say California. I'm sending these to myself because I'm going to give them as gifts. That's our scenario, remember? And so I want the date. Hmm, when can I get this? It says only available Monday through Friday. Now, I need to actually go find a calendar somewhere else and look up a date that I might want to get delivery for. Let's see.

Why don't we just guess somewhere around the middle of May, maybe. That sounds alright. We'll just take May 15th, 2013. Now, you're probably thinking to yourself, how do I know that this is going to be a valid date? How do I know that shipping is available on this day? Or, how do I know that this is the appropriate format in which to enter a date? We've all experienced that on the web. We've been entering data into a form, we type in what we think is accurate, we hit next and then we get an error message.

And it says that's not the right format, you need to use this format instead. Well, there is something that we can do about that. We can use what are called Structured Inputs. These reduce input errors by using a Structured Input mechanism that controls the type of data, the range of that data, and even the format of the information that is being entered. Things such as datepickers and calendar widgets, that would have been really helpful to have on this form. These work because they only show us dates that will be valid and their going to enter the data in the appropriate format. Some other Structured Input methods include sliders, they control the range and the increments, so zero to one hundred in increments of ten. Drop-down lists such as the state selector.

There were 50 states in that list and as soon as I open it up all I needed to do is find California. And even radio buttons and check boxes and be used to control the available options. So, rather than have people type open data in any format they want into a text field, We can control the input. We can use Structured Inputs to make sure that we're getting the data that we want, and this is going to reduce the number of errors or mistakes that they may make.

So, we're concerned about this date field. Let's go ahead and see how we have improved this check-out page. So here we are now on the improved site. Once again, I've entered my data. I'm getting ready to make this purchase. Here is a Structured Input. This is a drop-down. I simply choose California. I can't type in the wrong two letter state code. We're using Structured Inputs properly over here. We've got radio buttons for the shipping method. These are the four choices. I can't add my own, I can't change the price, I just choose what I want. But most importantly now, we see a completely new delivery date mechanism. When I click to get focus into this field, I have a calender widget. I've got a Datepicker that's being shown to me now. And this is going to use real date information.

Once we get this implemented and connected to the real website, we'll be able to do things like you can't select Saturday and Sunday. As shipping days, it's only available Monday through Friday. You won't be able to select dates in the past, because I can't ship you flowers yesterday, and you won't be able to select holidays, such as May 27th, Memorial Day, because there's no shipping on that day. So, we can restrict the range of data and we can specify the format of that data without having to force the customer to think about, how do I have to type this and is this a valid piece of information?

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Applied Interaction Design

32 video lessons · 5025 viewers

David Hogue
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