Here’s a general note to people who design forms for the web: if you’re going to use a tiny red asterisk to denote required fields, then for heaven’s sake don’t use the same tiny red asterisk to indicate a warning on a field that isn’t required.
The contract I’m working on for my client involves testing out some forms. Yesterday when I filled in a non-required (and valid) URL a tiny red asterisk appeared to the right of the URL field. Presumably I had committed some sin with the URL. I’ve noticed the same warning asterisk appear when I’ve omitted required information too.
Of course, it would be nice if they’d use some decent warning indicator such as highlighting the field itself, adding a friendly and helpful text message beside the field … but I’m a latecomer to this project and had no say in how the whole thing was put together in the first place.
But still, if tiny red asterisk means ‘required’ then it can’t also mean ‘warning, you’ve committed some terrible error we’re not going to explain!’. How about an exclamation mark instead, if all you can do is add a single, teeny tiny character?
I suspect this ‘feature’ is a standard part of the particular package that’s being used. It seems to be a .Net / asp product. Sigh.