Armanino Blog

Designing Forms for Usability in Microsoft CRM

December 19, 2012

If you've explored Microsoft CRM, you might have noticed there are a lot of fields that may not be relevant to your business needs. You could leave these fields, but oftentimes is better to remove them from the form so that users can avoid the confusion altogether as discussed in our previous posting 7 Tips to Increase User Adoption.

In order to design forms, it's important to understand how they are laid out. Some people will never notice this. Others find it right away—when entering data in a CRM form, the tab order for controls is top — down, not left - right as would be expected. Because we read left to right, people tend to put related fields as it would be read, left to right. If you look at the default forms for CRM, you will see that related information is laid out top - down.

Usability 1

Referring to the CRM Form Elements diagram below, the form can contain many Tabs, each tab can contain multiple sections and each section can contain multiple columns. Finally, columns contain multiple fields / controls.

Usability 2

By default, CRM will tab through each control in a column, then move to the next column in the section and finally, move to the next section or tab. See below for the default tab order:

Usability 3

Here is a real world example, with the elements highlighted:

Usability 4

If the vertical tab layout is unacceptable, there is one workaround that won't require you to implement unsupported JavaScript on the form. Simply put each row into its own section. To do this you will need to go into the form editor and re-layout the form to use a horizontal approach rather than a vertical approach.

Usability 5

In this example, we've added a 4-column section to contain the name fields (Salutation, First, Middle and Last Name), a 2-column section for the company information (Job Title and Parent Customer), and a 3-column section for the phone number fields. When entering data on this form, pressing the tab key will move you through the controls in the following order:

Usability 6

Hopefully, this guide will help you in designing your own forms in the future. If you have questions please let us know in the comments section below.

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