by anthony on 10/04/10 at 3:39 pm
Have you ever wondered how users react to how you’ve placed your buttons at the end of your form? How you design your button is one thing, but where you place it is another thing to think about. When it comes to placing your form buttons, there are three ways you can do it. You can place them to the left, right or center at the bottom of your form. The way you choose to place your form buttons could have an impact on how users feel about submitting their information to you.
If your form has multiple pages, it’s best to align your buttons to the right. On multi-page forms, you’ll often have more than one button. You have a ‘back’ button that takes the user back to their previous page, and a ‘continue’ button that takes the user to the next page. Because multi-page form buttons basically act as pagination, the buttons need to follow the pagination conventions that users are most familiar with. Users expect buttons that take users back to a previous page on the left. But they expect a button that takes users forward to the next page on the right. This pattern maps to the user’s left to right reading direction.
On forms with multiple sections, it’s best to align your buttons to the right. Multiple section forms are often long and consist of many fields grouped together. Aligning your button to the right will present your button as an action that affects the entire form, not just a single section on the page. If you align your button to the left, it’s easy for users to mistake the button as an action that only applies to the last section of your form. Placing your button on the right tells users that the button is a system-wide action that applies to every section of the form.
Left and Center Alignment
At this point, you are probably wondering about when you should align your button to the left or center. Left aligned buttons work best for single page forms. Single page forms are often shorter than multi-page and multi-section forms. When you align your button to the left on a single page form, it creates a clear and direct visual path to the button that users can’t miss. The association between the fields and buttons are also strong and easy to see.
Center aligned buttons are usually not recommended because they don’t create a strong association with form fields. They’re in a neutral position that isn’t aligned with the left or right edges of the form. Without alignment to the edges, it’s hard for users to see a strong association with the form fields. This can cause doubt and confusion in users causing them to think twice about submitting their information.
The way you place your buttons at the end of your form is important to consider. That button is responsible for submitting the user’s information to you. If it’s not placed in a way that makes your users comfortable, chances are that your users won’t bother filling out your form. The type of form you’re using determines the proper placement of your buttons. Right aligned buttons work better for multiple page and multiple section forms. But left aligned buttons work better for single page forms. Knowing this difference will help users complete your form with comfort and assurance.