One thing I often notice about novice developer’s web forms is that they usually contain a RESET button. You know, <input type="reset">. I think this is because a lot of books that talk about creating forms always use them in their examples.

But who really uses a reset button? Have you ever filled out a form, then realized you made a typo in your phone number? Did you correct your typo or did you think “gee, I’ll just use this reset button to clear the whole form, then I’ll put in the right phone number!”

I’m sure somewhere there is a legitimate use of a reset button. Maybe to reset a form that was pre-filled back to its original values. But 99% of the time they are not needed. Take a look at the forms on any well designed site, you won’t find any reset buttons. Not on Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, A List Apart, etc.

And its not just that they’re not needed, they are actually detrimental. Having two buttons at the bottom of a form clutters the interface and makes it harder for the user to clearly see the path to the next step. Trust me, I’m not the only person who has filled out a lengthy signup form, only to be too quick on the mouse (or tab key) when clicking the ‘obvious’ submit button on the bottom of the form. Only its not the submit button, its the reset button. And unfortunately there is no undo for that action.

So please, no more reset buttons!

2 Comments

  1. Julian says:

    I totally agree! Basic visual coherence — one has to weigh up the value brought to the interface vs the cognitive overhead of introducing the new element. I agree; the ‘reset’ or ‘clear’ buttons are not only never used as far as I can tell, they’re right next to the ‘submit’ button. I’d propose that more people accidentally click it, watching their carefully entered data destroyed, than those who benefit from saying ‘oh, you know what? I didn’t want that data and I’ll start again’.

  2. duncan says:

    Jakob Nielsen was saying the same thing 7 years ago:
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000416.html

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