30 Tips for accurate Text Entry

collect the data that you want to see

With any mobile app, one important consideration is to reduce the amount of text entry. Using tick boxes, drop-down lists etc. makes the app easier and faster to use, and ensures that answers are consistent, coherent and grammatically correct.

This benefits everybody: users are happier filling out their “paperwork”; forms are submitted in a timely way to the office; checking forms is much easier for office staff because they don’t need to proof-read or check for spelling misteaks [sic],  and professional reports can be issued quickly to the customer.

Having said all of that, there are times when text entry is unavoidable. This blog offers over 30 tips on how to use magic5 to make text entry easier and less error prone.

Shapes and Sizes

Your first decision is whether you need a big text box or a small one. Making the right choice means that the form “makes sense” to the user. There are also options available to tailor the “look and feel” of the text box.

  1. Single line v multi-line
  2. Width (display classes)
  3. Colours
  4. Sizes
         

Pre-fill answers

Pre-filling or suggesting answers that can then be edited or tailored can vastly reduce the amount of time spent typing. A relatively small amount of effort setting up the form can save hours of typing over the months and years to come.

  1. Simple default
  2. Simple default with editing required
  3. Defaults based on, for example, location attributes
    Simple, partial and context defaults. Pre-filled on opening the form - editable if required.
  4. Simple text snippets
  5. Snippets with edit
  6. Multiple lists of text snippets
  7. Text snippets with expansion
    simple text snippet, selected from context menu and entered into text field         
  8. Findings/actions with “automatically add”
  9. Findings/actions with suggested answers

Specialist text boxes

A number of specialised text boxes are built into magic5 and save you the bother of having to customise the standard text box item.

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. E-mail address
  4. Phone number
  5. Password

Device features

Inbuilt features on the phone/tablet offer valuable time-saving features. Available options may vary between makes and models.

  1. Auto-correct (and suppressing)
  2. Auto-suggest (and suppressing)
  3. Auto-complete (and suppressing)
  4. Handwriting recognition
  5. Speech recognition

    Read our previous blog about handwriting & voice recognition
  6. Copy and paste
            

Case

Enforcing consistency within the “look” of the text (eg. upper case) not only saves time during typing (avoiding the need to switch case manually) but helps produce a more professional final report for the customer.

  1. Force upper or force lower case
  2. Suppress sentence case (which is the default)
  3. Capitalising the starting letter of each word
         

Confirmation boxes

In cases where it is important that text entry is accurate, confirmation boxes can be used to weed out any typing mistakes.

  1. Text
  2. Password
  3. E-mail address
          

Validation

A bit of thought on simple validation rules can help prevent mistakes and also ensure that meaningful data is entered.

  1. Mandatory/optional
  2. Force maximum length
  3. Force minimum length
  4. Validation modules (eg. driving licences)
      
         

The features covered here relate to the Android version of the magic5 app on phones and tablets – the Windows version is similar but not identical. All features are available for building your own forms in magic5 Professional and magic5 Enterprise. magic5 Instant Forms uses many of these features but you don’t have control over the form yourself.