Our site has a form (below, posted here with permission) that allows users to add content.

It's fairly streamlined, but might take some time and thought for a user to complete, depending upon how complex the issue they're creating is.

We're trying to avoid clutter and complication whenever possible.

Is there a rule of thumb for when to allow users to save draft of a form?

"Create an Issue" form from Bothisder.com (with permission)

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    What do you mean by "when to allow users to save a draft"? Is it "at what point in the process do we allow it" or "how complex does a form have to be before we allow it"? Aug 27, 2013 at 15:50
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    I'm honestly not 100% sure of the proper way to decide what condition(s) should exist that make it worth the clutter and complication of presenting an option for users to save a draft. (Thanks for your clarifying question Andrew Leach) Aug 27, 2013 at 15:53
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    Why not save a draft without asking the user, then ask if they want to save the draft if they close? Aug 27, 2013 at 15:55
  • @bendataclear Thx. A good idea on how to implement, but I'm still unclear about whether any draft saving is needed at all (and under what conditions?). Aug 27, 2013 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


Autosave seems like would be a better option instead of asking the user to deal with this.

I do not have any study, but the reasoning is as follows:

a) Protect user's work - as you mentioned that the form could take time, there is a risk of loosing unsaved work if something goes wrong - e.g. user clicks on something (may be a bookmark) by mistake which nvigates the user away, or user closes the window/tab by mistake etc . Autosave protects from such a loss.

b) It is not really a user preference - in other words us the user likely want it to not be saved as draft ? Most likely not. So the user is not naturally thinking about this - instead is a software concept.

c) One less thing for user to think about - Reducing user's cognitive load or following the "Don't make me think" approach .. why make the user think about this ?

Recently OSX also introduced auto-save in it's desktop app. Gmail has been doing it for a while now.

In my personal expereince, I applied it extensively in a survey software (in some ways similar scenario to what you are trying to do). It's called http://insightify.com - user feedback has been very positive.

  • Can you elaborate a bit on this? What is your reasoning, and do you have any studies or examples to support your claim? Aug 27, 2013 at 19:41
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    I have updated the original response with more details.
    – Alok Jain
    Aug 27, 2013 at 20:37
  • @AlokJain Tks, definitely considering your suggestion. Creates a new problem though: a user may return to create one or twenty entirely new issues instead of the auto-saved one(s). Aug 28, 2013 at 14:16

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