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I have a fairly basic web form that gathers information such as name, address, description, yada, yada. I have to do a rewrite and so am wondering what the best practice currently is to show a preview? Right now, you click "save and preview" and go to the next page to see a preview. I can think of other methods, such as showing the preview in a pane on the same screen as the form, or show the preview in a popup window or an overlay.

What is the recommended best user experience to display a preview after completing a form that is used to generate a final document?

  • Welcome to the site, @Connie. This question is hard to answer without some more context. Are there space constraints? What is the format of the thing being previewed? How common is it to go back-and-forth between looking at the form and at the preview? – Graham Herrli Apr 5 '16 at 20:50
  • The preview is a single page, at least that's the only part that can be edited. Pages 2 and 3 of the document are boiler plate and cannot be edited but it would be helpful if the user could read those as well. I would not expect much back and forth. They won't be needing to make anything fit on the final page, it just does. – Connie DeCinko Apr 5 '16 at 21:41
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You'll find that most questions on UXSE regarding implementation of design concepts are difficult to answer without the context, but the principles used to come up with the design decisions shouldn't vary too much. So here's some things for you to think about to guide the thinking process:

  • What is the main purpose of the preview? Is it to verify that details are complete (this could be a quick check pre- or post data validation), is it to give the user another chance to check details or something else? The purpose and the goal you want to achieve by introducing a preview should guide you on the level of detail you need to provide in the preview, and thus the interactions involved (e.g. go to another page, pop up in a window, etc.)
  • How much information is on the form? For practical reasons it might not be a good idea to provide the preview in a popup if you intend to show lots of information. The scrolling (both horizontal and vertical) in a modal is not ideal user experience, and another page would be more practical.
  • What interactions are possible in the preview mode? Is it just to glance over details or are users allowed to edit? This needs to be taken into account with the rest of the workflow and design patterns that you have used.
  • Is this a one-off design pattern, or do you intend to use it for other types of documents? This will help you decide whether you need to customize this interaction or if it is something that can be applied across other types of documents and processes.

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