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I have a form in the system I am currently working on which loads in a dialogue window within the system. The form is about 3 times the length of the window it shows in, which obviously scrolls.

I have the Submit/Cancel buttons placed as the last element in the last column of the form.

I have been asked by people within the project to make the buttons float at the bottom of the dialogue so that they can be clicked at any time regardless of whether the user has scrolled down.

I can see that this is flawed because users don't get an idea for the full scope of the form however the decision that it's better is almost unanimous amongst non UX people.

UX is about making the user's experience as comfortable as possible. As these are none-UX people suggesting this shall I assume this is what most users would want?

What would you recommend as a UX advisor? Floating buttons or forced scrolling?

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+1 for a good question. –  AndroidHustle Sep 24 '12 at 11:58
    
Can you clarify what you mean when you say "users don't get an idea for the full scope of the form"? –  superduperfly Sep 24 '12 at 15:53
    
possibly confusing wording, I must admit, but what I believe may happen is the users might not fully understand the size/length of the entire form and think that the above-the-fold items are the only ones –  TJH Sep 25 '12 at 7:40
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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This should be dictated by what type of form this is that the user is filling in.

If the system accepts the form when it's just partially filled in, maybe top three input fields, then I think it would be motivated to have the submit/cancel buttons floating. Especially if this is a form that a user is expected to come across on a regular basis, then it would greatly improve the UX of the form if the user can complete what's intended without having to scroll to the bottom.

However, if the form has fields which requires input before it's approved, input that is further down in the form, I would not recommend having the buttons floating. This would be non optimal since it would communicate a false "path to completion" to the user, displaying action buttons that are logically not accessible before the entire form is reviewed.

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Thanks for your answer, +1 for covering both sides. The form is rather variable and will show different fields based on context. The more fields filled in the better, in all cases. –  TJH Sep 24 '12 at 12:08
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Jetbrains TeamCity does something almost exactly like what you describe.

Long forms have Save/Cancel buttons at the bottom.

As soon as you make a change, a floating bar appears with a message "You have unsaved changes" and a "Save" button.

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