I’m loving the feedback and discussion happening on the Blog comment form post. I just wanted to pick up on Gordon’s comment about styling the comment box:

I’m not entirely sure that re-styling this area to NOT look like a form is entirely ‘correct’ though. Yes, highlight it with pale yellow, but the subtle reminder that a indented box requires that you PUT SOMETHING IN IT is now lost… instead I have boxes that are pushed up at me and seem slightly counter-intuitive.

His comment has been bouncing around in my head, and I may end up changing the border colours again to reflect an indented box. I’ve been wondering why form fields have traditionally been styled as indented – Gordon’s suggestion that it implies you should put something in it fascinates me. I’ve never really thought of it that way.

So many form fields have now been styled with something a plain border like this: border: 1px solid #000; (As I write this in WordPress I’m surrounded by them.)

In some ways, having a form field stand out (like a form submit button does by default), rather than indented, might make it more obvious that here’s something which seems to sit above the page, like a paper form I need to fill in which is sitting on my desk right now.

Of course, this is all subtle stuff… but I do wonder if designers (who like changing the default form field styling) think about the indenting of form fields as something related to usability.

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