Robin VanGilder Web Development Examples and Resources


Forms are a way to add interactivity to websites. A form is comprised of many different controls, text boxes and various types of buttons and drop down menus, which can be combined to form a set of information. This feedback can then be used to accomplish any number of things. You can create a simple text box that runs a search on your site’s content, or create an elaborate form to automatically fill out legal paperwork with the entered information. They are necessary for just about any kind of website, no matter how simple. There is always a need for the user to offer some sort of feedback to shape their experience of your website.

However, unlike most HTML elements, forms can be very difficult to style properly with CSS. The appearance of certain elements are dependent on the operating system of the user, not just the browser, and thus will appear wildly different to different users. According to the “Styling HTML Forms” article, some form elements cannot be styled at all, including <select>, <option>, and <optgroup>. Anything with some sort of drop down list or slider is almost impossible to control the appearance of. If you have a website that is heavily stylized, you must be very careful how you deploy these elements.

Despite these limitations, forms are a powerful tool for web designers everywhere. However, they can be tricky to put together, having many different components, so there are many online form-building tools that offer a WYSISWYG interface (Garofalo). This way, you can be sure that all the elements of your form are in the right place, and will work the way they are supposed to.