Inline validation is the way to go – checking data as it is entered to ensure that it’s accurate. There are lots of fancy ways you can do this now with Ajax, jQuery, form building tools (Wufoo, JotForm) and so on.
But some (most, really) people still have old servers or old technology or something that means they can’t validate data until a form is submitted. Fine, I get it.
But for pete’s sake, at least validate all of the data at the same time!
In the form below from an H&M contest, I left out my email address and screwed up the CATPCHA. I’ve outlined both in green boxes.
Yet, the form only complains about the email address being missing (also note that it doesn’t highlight the field where the error occurred).
So I added in my email address and submitted the form again.
Now it complains about the CAPTCHA. The error message says “Incorrect captcha value entered.” Will Joe Formfiller know what a CAPTCHA is? Questionable. And, of course, because they don’t highlight where the error occurred, someone who doesn’t know what a CAPTCHA is will have even more difficulty figuring out what went wrong.