Developing user-friendly forms that look good in a variety of browsers is a thankless job. Form elements are notoriously inconsistent across browsers. But getting the design right is only half of the battle. It’s equally important to make sure you’re getting the right information and providing a quality user experience that also satisfies business goals, making everyone happy.
What is a quality user experience with regard to web forms? Users like web forms that are forgiving. A form shouldn’t bark at you when you enter your phone number, say, with dots instead of dashes. It’s nice when forms give you a summary of the fields you need to correct rather than making you hunt around for the offending fields. Longer forms that are spread across multiple pages with breadcrumbs that allow you to go back are preferable to one big page that scrolls down endlessly. These kinds of design oversights make users unhappy because they expect more from web applications. On the other hand, some users will try to fill out as little as possible, and still others will spam you or try to hack your site, so it’s important to have validation in place.