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It can either be a matter of the context or simply a choice of visual style. If the form is displayed in the same context as other elements on the view (promotion message, login form, etc.) it can be a good idea to frame it in order to visually map it as a unity to the user and yield closure of completion. This is the case for eg. the Twitter sign up view: ...


Visually the box provides a grouping of the elements - Grouping the form fields, making them distinct from the rest of the content. Working on the gestalt principle of closure. That box is usually the fieldset element of the HTML. It's not clear from your example, but fieldsets usually go around related elements, so you could have multiple in a form. The ...

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