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We have a multipage web application (a flow with lots of forms). The forms have lot of fields. Our client wants us to validate the fields on "Next" but allow the user to continue.

This introduces a few issues - unless we do a pop-up or keep the user on the same form, the validation messages will appear on the next form and won't be of much use to the user - since the flow is long and forms have lot of fields if we keep carrying the list of fields that failed validation along it becomes a really big/ugly message - more like a long paragraph.

I am looking for suggestions on how to handle both these issues - validate but continue - show validation messages without making it look like a paragraph

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The application that I was recently working on had 10 webpages and each page had about 5 to 10 controls and the validation errors are displayed inline as well as at the end (we call it the "summary" page which displays summary if there are no validation errors) just before subimit. The errors displayed in the summary page is a link to the specific page where the validation failed. There are good reasons to have both this.

  1. User can immmediately fix the errors by having the error message displayed inline which is good but, this works only if the user knows the correct answer immediately but what if they will get know the correct answer sometime in the future.
  2. User can correct the validation error at the end when there is a summary of validation errors at the end.

E.g.: If a date field in the 5th page expects the user to enter a date that he doesn't know yet, he should still be able to complete all other details and should be notified that the date in page 5 needs to be entered before submiting.

In my application user can save the partially completed form and continue at a later point of time so, the above method works and the business users are also happy. IMO you should have both.

  • Interesting approach. Do you have a snippet that you can upload? Thanks – shikarishambu May 8 '15 at 20:15
  • @shikarishambu Sorry, I don't bcoz I was a BA. – PS86 May 11 '15 at 8:18
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Feedback should be immediate and in-place, so show validation errors inline as soon as the user leaves the field (on blur). You can even show errors while the user is typing except incompleteness because input naturally starts from an incomplete state. For elaboration, see http://www.hulstkamp.com/articles/ux-inline-validation-while-user-enters-value/

  • Do you have any reference to verify your statement? – Benny Skogberg May 8 '15 at 5:01
  • See my updated answer. – thSoft May 14 '15 at 10:09
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Be wary of what a client asks for as they may not be the best judge of good UX. You should be the authority on that, or defer it to someone who is.

My suggestions would be:

  1. One option may be to present the user with all the invalid fields again at the end of the process. Or...
  2. Validate the fields inline before submit.

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