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This is just a general question. I have a single-page web application that does not navigate away after form submission. My question is whether I should clear form data after a successful submission or whether I should leave the values there? It is possible that someone would want to submit a very similar set of data and only need to change a few fields, so it could be handy to leave the data as is.

It is also possible that someone could click submit multiple times, thus submitting the exact same data over and over again. Clearing the form would obviously prevent this.

Does anyone have any insight into this?

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1  
Welcome to the site, @UpAllNight. Would it be feasible to clear just a single field (such as a required submission name) but leave the other fields unchanged? –  3nafish Sep 2 at 22:08
    
I think Eleonora's answer is on the right track, but it's hard to answer such a question without knowing what the form is about, what the user needs are, what task is being performed, etc. The whole point of UX is to provide optimal solutions to concrete problems, the variables of which vary a great deal between problems. There isn't much place for 'general' questions in UX - each case is different. –  Izhaki Sep 2 at 23:46
    
If the data isn't emptied, it will not give the impression that nothing was submitted. It's the equivalent of getting your form back if you were to submit it to the DMV, postal office, school, etc. –  Majo0od Sep 3 at 12:30
    
You could also disable the submit button on submit for N seconds to prevent subsequent submissions. –  Kid Diamond Sep 4 at 2:13
    
That's an interesting suggestion, Kid Diamond –  UpAllNight Sep 10 at 14:16

3 Answers 3

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Once the form is submitted, users expect for a sign showing them that their intended action was successful.

It's usually a message ("Thank you – etc.") displayed below the form, in a dialog or on a new page (depends on the context). The input data usually get cleared on submission, to give visual evidence that the data have been "sent" somewhere.

In your case, one possible solution to make recurring, similar submissions easier and at the same time prevent users from accidentally submitting the form is:

  1. Clear form data after a successful submission;
  2. Show a message to confirm that action was successful;
  3. Add 2 call-to-actions: "Submit a similar form" and "Fill out a blank form" (you'll have to come up with a more relevant copy for your use case).

This is an example of what I mean:

enter image description here

I'm making some assumptions here, for instance that:

  • a slight majority of users (and not all of them) will "want to submit a very similar set of data and only need to change a few fields"
  • even if "just" a slight majority of the users insert forms with very similar data, the chance of accidental submissions is high due to conditions of use (e.g., chaotic environment, typing speed, very similar data, etc)
  • that the users will use the form frequently enough but NOT on a full-time basis (e.g. in a data entry company context the click on the "Submit a similar form button" will take too long).

If one of this assumptions is wrong (e.g., 95% of users will "want to submit a very similar set of data and only need to change a few fields" ) the UX above doesn't work anymore and there are other solutions you may want to explore, for instance:

  • provide the users with different templates of pre-populated data (are there any recurring patterns in the data they insert?);
  • allow the users to define their own templates;
  • use JS and/or server side validation to prevent users from submitting to identical forms, one after the other;
  • add an "Undo" option after submission.
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Even though this requires additional clicks, I think it is well worth it since it makes the "flow" very explicit. –  J. Dimeo Sep 2 at 23:21
    
Another option is to silently reject a submission if it's identical to the previous submission. - This only works if no user would want to make identical submissions. –  Taemyr Sep 3 at 11:46
    
Not bad advice... but a little bit fluffy if you are doing this as repetitive process. Does the feedback need to be this explicit? I'm not so convinced. –  Captain Sep 3 at 13:51

Why doesn't the form navigate away? Is the view meant for consecutive form entries which is why the user is not re-directed away from the form? What percentage do you expect your users to input mostly the same data? Would it be better to offer common fields as a user preference and pre-load them as input placeholders after submissions?

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Once the user clicks "submit", something should happen on the screen to acknowledge the request, and something should remain on the screen after the request is processed to indicate that. For example: "Last entry successfully submitted at 10:37:42". If doing so wouldn't compromise confidentiality, it could also show the field contents of the last entry submitted and--if they precisely match the previous submission [and that would have been legitimate] it could note the number of consecutive identical submissions. If an area of the form is dedicated to showing recent actions, there would be no need to have the notification trigger a pop-up and interrupt the user's "flow".

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