I've read a lot of articles/research on this topic, but some practitioners insist that multi-column forms can be used effectively. To aide in the discussion, here is a list of research we can refer to:
Form Field Usability: Avoid Multi-Column Form Design http://baymard.com/blog/avoid-multi-column-forms
- 5 different ways to interpret how the form fields relate in a two-column layout
- The only deviation is grouping first name, last name, country and state fields.
Extensive Guide to Web Form Usability http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2011/11/08/extensive-guide-web-form-usability/
- "Also, keeping a long form to a single column and making users scroll down the page is better than breaking it up into columns in an attempt to keep everything 'above the fold'."
Web Form Design by Luke W
- Moving between fields using the Tab key can be a jarring experience (moving from one column to another).
B2B Web Applications
- I've noticed that many B2B applications (accounting, finance, etc.) do use multi-column layouts; however, I think users are expected to "learn" these interfaces a bit more.
Ok, so what is your opinion on this matter?! Let's get a discussion going!