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I'm in the process of developing a wp7 app as a side project at work. The form I'm creating really needs to be completed in order, for the most part.

I've added two screenshots, the first one is the initial screen, where a user enters the zone number. Once they dismiss the keyboard, there are some api calls made (with a loading indicator so users understand something is happening...) and the rest of the form pops up.

http://i.imgur.com/yBVZQ.png

The second screenshot shows what happens after the api calls are finished... the user enters their space number, and selects the vehicle they want to park and then they press continue.

enter image description here

I know the menu needs to be changed around, and I'll do that soon enough. It right now allows them to go to settings, or see their active sessions.

My question is, how do I go about making it easier for users to get past the first step (dismissing the keyboard so the data call is made? At one point I was having a data call made every time they entered in a character into the "Zone Number" field, however, it became very complicated.

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One of my thoughts was to change the menu to next and previous buttons and put the other menu options under the sub menu, however, I'm not even sure this would solve it... –  Hosemeyer Sep 2 '11 at 16:09

4 Answers 4

I would try to increase convenience as follows:

  1. Check user's position automatically first and provide a list with available zone numbers in that area.

  2. Ask for Space Number.

  3. Ask for vehicle. But since people usually doesn't change their own car everyday, you could ask the question once in the setup process. In the form it would be prefilled then with the possibility to update it if necessary.

Additionally you could try to increase efficiency with breaking the three steps up into two (1 > 2+3). Just a quick thought.

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1. is a thought, however, we still need it to work for the users who choose not to allow the app to use GPS... –  Hosemeyer Sep 6 '11 at 20:17

I'd probably go for an inactive form element rather than a hidden element. To me the opening screen seems incomplete, and then the form commits me into just entering an element and then showing more, which seems like a bit of a cheat.

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I guess that you would like to stick to a simple as possible solution that is usable and easy to code at the same time. Right? So I would suggest, why don't you put some kind of button at the right part of the field (graphically in that field). E.g. small arrow (->) that will intuitively tell the user to click it when he/she is ready so they could proceed to the next step.

Also I do support @Wolo with his suggestion of breaking the whole process in some easy and understandable steps.

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Except that this runs up against the well established convention that a button inside an edit field is used to change that field - e.g. any Combobox or Date editor. –  Bevan Sep 5 '11 at 2:40
    
Honestly, I'm perfectly fine with trying something that is difficult to code. I'd rather it be easier on the user and the have the burden put on the developer... –  Hosemeyer Sep 6 '11 at 20:21

Showing and hiding form elements is known to confuse users.

Why not just disable the Location/Space/Vehicle fields until the Zone number has been completed?

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