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I would like to know what the best practices in the web are for Sign up button on HTML Forms. Currently the site I'm working on has a design in which Sign up is disabled by default and is enabled when the user enters a valid email address and a password that matches the rules criteria. Is it a good practice to keep Sign up disabled? I'm seeing some focus issues when user types a valid email and password, the focus does not automatically come to Sign up button since it is disabled. It becomes enabled when the user tabs out of the input fields.

Note: I'm using jQuery validate plugin for my validation of email and password fields.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

In general the best practice specifically to "Sign Up" forms and processes are to keep them barrier free as possible. If a user is easily confused by a sign up form/process, they may never attempt to register for your service and move along to the competition.

For sign up form buttons specifically. I would suggest leaving the button in its enabled state. If a user happens to land on your sign up pages interested in signing up for a service, but doesn't understand why the button is disable, they might never complete the process (low possibility but defiantly a possible barrier). Also if a interested user lands on your sign up page with a disabled button and no JavaScript enabled, the user will never be able to sign up as the buttons state will never change.

Client side validation is defiantly a usable enhancement here but, should be paired with a server side process to catch those few users that might have JavaScript disabled. Validation would not be a barrier to sign up simply a guide to help those that make a simple mistake.

Also note, if the sign up button is enabled by default when the user is done entering there information, the enter key should be able to submit the form automatically. This means your focus issue, should not be an issue any longer!

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+1. Definitely test on a non-Javascript browser (like Lynx), although I suppose <noscript> could be employed with a bit of effort. But why spend that effort when you need server-side validation anyway and a disabled button is a potential barrier? [There are occasions when a disabled button might be appropriate, but sign-up isn't really one of them] –  Andrew Leach Aug 30 '12 at 6:55
    
I completely agree with this. If they see it enabled - they press it - your form will fire up validation prompts indicating they must fill in fields before hand rather than the disabled state. Much better. +1 –  TheBlackBenzKid Aug 30 '12 at 9:46
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Bob: You cannot disable this call to action button.

Jane: Why?

Bob: I'm not telling you.


Disabling a button rather than leaving it enabled and providing errors on submission is exactly like being Bob - you're telling a user she can't do something but refusing to explain why. Don't be Bob - he's a jerk.

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