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Tips for Filling Up a Web Form (Web Form Best Practices)

If you are reading this, you probably have some experiences filling up a web form. When you sign up for a free web email such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo mail, you will be required to fill up some information. For websites such as Facebook or JobCentral, you may be prompted for more details and preferences.

Depends on the purpose of the website, you may need to put in extra effort. Registering as a tutor at Smart Tuition is one that you should really work a bit extra on since every new account is manually vetted through. The tuition agency website is identical to a combination of job search and social networking website, which gives you a personal web profile page.
  1. Read instructions

    When filling in any form, do read instructions at the top. It is simply a waste of time for both the team and you if you make some wrong steps.
  2. Leave non-mandatory fields empty if you are not interested

    Mandatory fields are usually marked with asterisk (*) besides the label. The rest are optional. If you are uncomfortable with providing the information in those optional fields, do leave them empty instead of putting "NA" or "-".

    Note that an online form has automatic validation, which is different from a physical form that you need to indicate the field is not applicable to you. If there is an optional field to indicate your house's number, simply leave it blank instead of retyping your mobile phone number there to "smoke" through - it only makes you look stupid and the administration side clearly knows that you do not bother to read.

    Nevertheless, just leave non mandatory fields totally blank if you do not wish to provide the information.
  3. Do not use CAPS excessively

    In the Internet where your voice cannot be heard and your expression cannot be seen, words in CAPS are a sign of aggressiveness. By using CAPS, whoever reads what you have typed will feel that you are either agreesive or rude. You can use CAPS just to highlight any important word or sentence but not all.
  4. Select correct options

    For some forms, there may be some preset options for certain groups of users who may be more frequently using it. You may not fall into the group and thus you have to look through the form carefully and edit the option, whether is a drop-down box or radio button, as accordingly. Failure to do so will not only make you look careless but also creates misunderstandings.
  5. Be smart

    Use some intelligence to guess what the form actually requires from you for certain fields. For example, for the occupation field, there are some preset options including "full-time tutor", "school teacher", "undergraduate" and "NIE trainee", and putting "part time tutor" does not speak well of you. If you are not a full-time tutor, you are obviously a part-time tutor while the options do not include it. That means you are supposed to input your actual occupation so that the staffs will know how relevant your current job has to do with tutoring. Do you have anything to hide?
  6. Do not act smart

    If you do not know certain term or option (for example, integrated programme), you probably do not qualify for it - just leave the field as "no" or "none". Insisting to opt for them would definitely pose problems for everyone in future.
  7. Check for typing error

    Your profile will show how careful a person you are. Therefore it is good that you double check what you have typed. If you are an English tutor, it will look very bad on you if there is any typing mistake.
  8. Read terms of service (or service agreement) and privacy policy

    For any reputable website, it is usually safe. Most people, including us, will be lazy to even scroll through the service agreement. However, if you are signing up for a job, there are definitely some important agreements you have to know such as the charge and rules. If you do not bother to read, you are simply causing misunderstanding in future.



Tips for Filling Up a Web Form by Skai Chan,
Ex-lecturer, Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West, Singapore.



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"People commonly educate their children as they build their houses, according to some plan they think beautiful, without considering whether it is suited to the purposes for which they are designed." - Lady Mary Wortley Montagu