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Auto Advance to Next Field

Do auto tabbing a field break the Principle of Least Astonishment?

  • I'm always frustrated to find CD key fields don't implement this...
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 25 '12 at 5:11

Yes, for the most part auto tabbing to the next fields (input) would break this law. Because auto tabbing to the next field is not common practice on the web and most desktop applications. This functionality would easily surprise and confuse most (beginner/novice) users working with the interface for the first time.

The only exceptions I can see for this rule would be if you are building a new application to replace an existing one with the same type of functionality already in place. Or if you are building an new application for a set of internal (power) users. Power users (users that work with any given interface for a long period of time) can quickly adopt to features like this.

Though if possible I would suggest even offering the ability to turn it on or off based on user preference it not remove it entirely. Of course that would be based on your application/interface requirements.

  • Fast users are going to press tab before they even notice the autotab, but the autotab will be instantaneous, I seen a few sites where that's resulted in me tabbing out of a field before I'd entered anything into it. Feb 12 '13 at 9:11

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