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Re: WCAG2: does a search form without a submit button fail?


From: deborah.kaplan@suberic.net
Date: Jul 31, 2015 12:11PM

Not only is this is a usability fail, to me this is a clear cognitive accessibility issue. What if the user doesn't know to press enter? Does the page clearly say to do that? Many users are so accustomed to assuming the only way to submit forms is to click a button, that it wouldn't even occur to them to press enter.

This goes along with the general usability problems of instant search or any instant form submission. Google gets away with it for the same reason Google and Facebook get away with any UI no-nos: people spend enough time on those two sites that they get trained by the sites in how to use those interfaces. But in general, users seem to get pretty confused if there isn't a search button -- and if there is any delay between the time they enter the search query and the time the results appear, they think there is something broken on the page.

The general principle, for basic user experience also for cognitive accessibility, is that common interfaces should behave like all other common interfaces, if some kind of common practices exist everywhere else. The only exception is if there is a good reason -- better than "a 10 x 10 magnifying glass icon with alternative text is still too big for our minimalistic site design." (I'm not saying that the reasoning in this case, Lynn, but that would be the reasoning in parallel cases I've seen.)

Deborah Kaplan

On Fri, 31 Jul 2015, _mallory wrote:

> Hi,
> what happens if I entered searchy text and hit tabr+enter? if I didn't
> see there wasn't a button, I may overshoot the form.
> Unless it fails Understandable, which it well might, this may be more
> the realm of so-so usability rather than a direct WCAG violation.
> Whether it's expected behaviour is pretty much set by your userbase.
> In a not-very-relevant aside, I still use Opera 12 for various keyboardy
> reasons. Some sites, like community.sitepoint.com (which does have a
> separate submit) give me a CSRF error if I hit enter rather than first
> focussing on the submit. I suspect this is due to the hidden input not
> being sent along with the login/pass on enter (form submit) which some
> browsers have been known to have issue with, while *everything* is sent
> on the submit-button-click+submit event.
> This might not be an issue with users of non-ancient browsers though.
> _mallory
> On Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 10:11:28AM +0100, Lynn Holdsworth wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> I have a search form that's submitted when a user presses Enter in the
>> textbox. It doesn't include a submit button.
>> Does this fail WCAG2 anywhere, or does this fall into the realms of
>> expected behaviour?
>> Thanks as always, Lynn
>> >> >> >> > > > > --