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Celebrate National Design Week October 19-25, 2008

Design is everywhere around us: the bed you sleep on, the shoes you wear, the car you drive, the community you live in, the list goes on forever. Good design encourages imitation and adaptation (cup holders in cars). Bad design makes us laugh or curse (a stop sign on a highway entrance), and causes us to appreciate good design even more.

Celebrate National Design Week (http://cooperhewitt.org/NDW/2008/) with Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, a Smithsonian Institution dedicated to the history of design and its impact on daily life. This is Cooper-Hewitt’s third annual National Design Week, with people voting online for their favorite designs, presentations of National Design Awards, free museum admissions, and various educational events accross the United States.

Check out this year’s People’s Design Awards nominees here: http://peoplesdesignaward.cooperhewitt.org/2008/. Email me and let me know what contitutes good design or bad design.

In honor of design week, I will take the topic of my last post a step farther. How can you make a well designed online form even better? Forms submitted online send you high quality information that you can use. But as small businesses cut costs, they need to find better, more efficient ways to receive and process this information.

Many businesses receive web form responses via e-mail. Then, a person opens the email, and inputs the information the customer just typed in all over again. As a business owner, you should be aware of redundancies like this. By improving the design of your online forms (or rather the code behind them), you can increase productivity by saving time and money.

Talk to your web developer or web designer about automating your online forms. Do you get online orders, online registrations or signups? Where do there bits os information finally end up? A database? A PDF form? With a little extra coding, you can bypass the extra step of data input and automatically get your databases updated and PDF forms created with the simple touch of the form submit button. Always make sure that the form features dynamic error checking and anti-spam scripts to ensure that you receive clean, high quality data. Then, a human can always log-in to your backend/admin area to do any additional data editing or checks.

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