LTUX Brighton x codebar Brighton: Accessible Online Forms

We were delighted to support a fantastic collaborative event by Ladies That UX and codebar Brighton recently, as part of Spring Forward Festival! In this guest blog post by Ladies That UX Brighton co-organiser Charlotte Parker, she breaks down what happened…

Who are Ladies That UX Brighton?

Ladies That UX (LTUX) is a worldwide UX community, supporting each other by pushing the UX boundaries and promoting skill and talent. Each city runs slightly different events, and each group decides what they want to get from their get-togethers. The Brighton chapter prides itself on providing a friendly and open space, whether you’ve just started out in UX or have been championing the user for years. LTUX Brighton is here to advocate for women, non-binary folks, and underrepresented genders across all areas of user experience.

The history of LTUX in Brighton goes all the way back to 2013, but sadly the community had to close its doors during the global pandemic, leaving its regular bill of workshops, talks and meet-ups dormant. That is until a keen group of co-organisers and volunteers brought LTUX Brighton back in January with a hugely successful relaunch event. The second event, Accessible Online Forms, was equally successful, which is what we’re here to tell you about!

What happened at the Accessible Online Forms event?

After months of discussions, planning and organisation, LTUX Brighton returned in March with a practical workshop on “Accessible Online Forms“, co-presented with codebar Brighton.

33 attendees arrived at the FuseBox offices for the sold-out event, excitedly collected their reusable name badges and greeted others from across the UX community. 

After a round of intros, Caroline Jarrett began the workshop with a sentiment that set the tone for the rest of the evening: “I love geeking out on forms“.  

Caroline is a forms and surveys specialist with decades of experience advising organisations on making forms easier to fill in and improving processes that include forms. She began the workshop by pointing towards the WCAG website and asking, “What’s the best way to ask for a telephone number?”, sparking a discussion around the room on ways to approach the problem and how difficult it is to find the correct and precise information.

After providing some expert insights on form building, Caroline concluded by sharing that a good form is easy to:

  • Read and use
  • Understand and answer
  • Complete and move on. 

Then began the grand ‘unboxing’ of resources, such as an example form, interview transcripts and form-building guides, to use throughout the workshop. A LTUX volunteer played the part of a ‘client’ and provided the brief: convert a form, usually on paper or Rich Text Format (RTF), to an accessible online form for a doctor’s surgery. 

The room was filled with excited conversations between UXers and developers for the next hour. They researched, designed and built their forms using the resources provided and the UXer’s best friend – post-it notes and sharpies. Each group helped along the way with expertise from Caroline and advice from Meghan at Diversity & Ability, a local social enterprise that champions intersectional neurodiversity and disability inclusion.

In Part 1 of the workshop, participants reviewed the form content and mapped out the information that truly needed to be collected, considering some key questions:

  • Who is the form for, and how might that influence the design?
  • Do you need all the questions (form fields)?  
  • Are there any questions you might be missing?
  • Is the information in the form related? How can it be grouped? 

Once everyone was stuck into the exercise, a new piece of research was provided for Part 2 of the workshop – recordings of ‘usability tests’ showing users struggling with filling out the original form. With these in mind, participants worked to improve the language and instructions in the form. At this point, Caroline and other members of the UX community introduced their approach to some key HTML tags such as <label> and <fieldset>.

Finally, in Part 3 of the workshop, post-it notes were brought out in force as attendees designed the structure and styling for their new form, including development considerations such as:

  • The <input> tags for each field
  • How to match up <input> tags to the typed values 
  • How to select fields for styling and JavaScript later

As the workshop drew to a close, each group explained their newly designed form and the key decision points that got them to that point. The room was filled with an excited buzz as inspired UXers and developers discussed and debated the aspects of accessibility and form creation that stood out to them. The overlap between user research, content design, user experience design, and web development was very clear; these aspects are essential when creating a truly great and accessible online form.

The night was a huge success, and we received excellent feedback from participants excited to hear about the next event – keep an eye out, as this will be announced on the LTUX website and social channels soon!

Do you want to access resources and further reading from the Accessible Online Forms workshop? Then follow this link:

Who funded and supported the event?

LTUX Brighton were delighted to be co-presenting this event with codebar Brighton, with additional expertise provided by Diversity and Ability

This event would not be possible if it wasn’t for generous collaborators, sponsors and host.

Diversity and Ability – Collaborator

Diversity and Ability are an award-winning social enterprise led by and for disabled people. They support individuals, organisations and social justice projects to create inclusive cultures. 85% of the Diversity and Ability team identify as disabled or neurodiverse and 100% of their clients would reuse their services.

The FuseBox – Venue, Facilities, and Technology

The FuseBox is Wired Sussex’s innovation centre. It is a hub for digital innovators, tech visionaries and creative technologists, providing access to spaces, facilities, opportunities and expertise. The FuseBox is open to individuals, start-ups, small teams and those developing new digital products or services at existing businesses.

Broadlight Global – Sponsor

Broadlight Global Ltd is a Brighton-based tech consultancy. Broadlight’s experienced team and network of consultants help organisations to get the most from their technology and people strategies. Partners range from scaling start-ups to FTSE 100 Companies and the UK Government. 

Silicon Brighton – Sponsor

Silicon Brighton is a community-led initiative supporting digital growth in the South East. 

Working hand-in-hand with the local tech community, they provide individuals with free opportunities for networking, training, up-skilling and development, helping them to take their careers and businesses forward.

LTUX Brighton was also immensely proud to be part of Spring Forward Festival – a celebration of the role of women in digital culture that runs each year throughout March in parallel with Women’s History Month.