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Recently I've been designing complex multi-page forms for financial institutions and up until now they've been designed with a fixed navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, like so:

enter image description here

The forms are used frequently by users, and require the user to input a lot of information quickly across several screens. As mentioned, the forms calls to action are placed within a navigation bar, which is fixed to the bottom of the page - the form scrolls behind the bar. Mandatory information is surfaced to be higher up the screen and there is lots of help and keyboard shortcuts to aid accessibility and speed of completion.

I've been asked to back up my reasoning for using the fixed button bar and understand any potential issues with this pattern. I have read lots of Luke Wrobelski articles, but not many take into account these complex forms.

My reasoning for fixing the form navigation is as follows:

  • calls to action are always in view
  • calls to action are consistently placed across screens:
    • The primary call to action, such as 'Save' is placed to the right as a button
    • Secondary calls to action, such as 'Cancel' are placed to the left as links (tab order puts the primary button before the secondary).
  • Keyboard shortcuts allow the user to skip form content to focus directly on the primary call to action.

Question: Is there anything inherently wrong with this approach, that I've not taken into account?

Just for some extra context, we tend to use three column-layouts. I don't particularly want to get in a discussion about the pros and cons over single and multi-column layouts here, but here are some variations on this layout, again with the fixed bottom bar.

enter image description here

Thanks in advance

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1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The only downside is see to this approach is the fact that a fixed bar at the bottom might suggest there is nothing below the fold. An user might think they have filled in everything only to find out they missed input fields that were below the fold.

An upside you haven't mentioned yet is the fact the call to actions are easily to reach and enables the user to quickly access them when scrolling through the form after completing it to check if they correctly filled everything in. They don't have to scroll all the way down again.

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