Search Data Entry: Vital Stats Links
This is a 3-part suggestion
PART 1 — For many years, when on a form which had links to make a set of fields available (such as Birth, Death, Father, etc.), these links were in the tab order, and if pressing the Enter key while they were focused, would open the availability for the related fields set. Even on forms I created myself, this was always the case. But when I attempt this on familysearch.org/search data entry, these are indeed on the tab order, and yet pressing Enter at any time activates the Search function...not ideal.
PART 1 Suggestion: Pressing the Enter key to initiate Search is a great feature. However, it should only activate Search if the Enter key is pressed "while actually in a field" (such as after just entering the data for the last field you intend to enter in). If Enter is pressed when on a link, that link should be allowed to be activated instead of Search. Using such links potentially avoids the need to tab through a lot of extra fields, reducing the number of tab keypresses for each group not used to one keypress per group. In fact, that is the purpose of having links-operated sets of grouped fields, with saving page space as a secondary purpose. If these links are not allowed to do their job, "making data entry easier", then they are best not used and the fields left always available. It does make good sense to use the links, so that the user can simply tab past them when the related links are not to be used, or press Enter while on a link when the related links "are" to be used. To do it this way enhances the user friendly aspect in that it allows one to do things from the keyboard and not need to switch back and forth between the keyboard for actual data entry and the mouse for link clicking.
• Using the data entry form for Search as currently configured, if I want to use fields from each and every linked set of fields (except the "Restrict records by" links), there are at least 10 mouse clicks required just to open the field sets.
• Using the data entry form for Search as I've suggested, if I want to use fields from each and every linked set of fields (except the "Restrict records by" links), 10 keypresses are required to open the field sets.
• The difference is that with 10 keypresses, as I arrive in the tab order, this is simple and uses the keyboard which I'm already using. But as you have it configured, it requires me to switch to my mouse 10 times and back to my keyboard 10 times. That's a lot of switching.
PART 2 — When a link which opens a set of fields is clicked, it opens the set and places the insertion cursor in the first field of the set...great. However, the placement of your set-opening links in the current layout allows this to alter the tab order.
• If I tab through these links without opening any of them, as I tab beyond the last field of the pre-opened Birth fields set, instead of continuing on to the next set link in that category's set of links as it did before (Marriage), it continues with the next set link in the category of links following the last Birth field (going to Spouse), skipping Marriage, Residence, Death and Any set links entirely...thus requiring me to use the mouse to open them and go back to them. I end up going down to do data entry, then back up to find the next link, then down to do data entry...back and forth...time consuming and potentially confusing.
PART 2 Suggestion: (Assuming you have already done the suggestion in part one)...reorder the tab order such that...
• Example partial tab order: Link for "Birth fields set", Birthplace field, Match exactly field, Beginning year range field, ending year range field, Link for "Marriage fields set", Marriage Place field, Match exactly field, (etc, etc) —— With this type ordering...
• If sets are left unopened, using the tab key will move to the next link (i.e.-from Birth link to Marriage link).
• If a set are opened, using the tab key will advance to the next field in that set (whether the first field is set to auto-enter by default or not)...and after the last field, on to the next link (Birth to Marriage).
• If the Birth fields set is left as defaulting to initially open/available AND if the focus default is the Birth link instead of the first Birth field, the user can simply press the Enter key to close it if no birth information is available, reducing keypresses from 5 to move beyond Birth to 1 to move beyond Birth...and only requiring 1 extra keypress when using the Birth fields.
• Although it is a nice visual arrangement to have each category of links for opening sets in horizontal rows. this also presents problems (not insurmountable). To a user, it helps if things are in a logical order...as an order of use, not just as an order for page organization's sake. Ideally, both of these factors will be considered. If a set is opened, and the tab order is as I've suggested, the way the expandable/collapsible paragraphs are currently setup, as one left the last Birth field, the focus would go back UP the page to the Marriage link...not ideal. However, if the links for sets were in a vertical column instead of horizontal AND if the collapsible paragraphs were between each link...opening one would push the link for the next set down below that set of fields, so that when leaving the last link for Birth for instance, one would still arrive on the Marriage link, but it would be below the Birth fields in a presentation which visually agrees logically for the user, making everything on the page being used in a single ordering, and also being viewed as though being used in a single ordering...ideal. Granted, vertical columns aren't as space saving or aesthetically pleasing, but they work out better. There are ways to use horizontal links and still move them visually downward, but that goes into more complex coding.
• Name should be left open by default as it is now, and both Name and Alternate Name do not need to be on any tab order, since one is already open and the other is rarely used comparatively.
PART 3 — Although I do see the value of limiting the field sets for Father and Mother to 2 sets each, as it is indeed rare that someone has more than two sets of parents...Spouse would be good to have a few more field sets available (on demand by link), as there are many people who had more than 2 husbands or 2 wives. Thus having more such fields available would make it easier to catch search results for these other known spouses without the need to refine search several times. Example setup: Open the first Spouse fields set. When it opens, at the end of that fields set is another Spouse link (labeled "Add Another Spouse"); which can be either tabbed past, or Enter could be pressed to open another Spouse field set...opening as many as needed. (Note: This same method of having an extra link included at the end of a field set which can have multiple sets, can be implemented for Father and Mother as well, even with the current limit of 2 sets.) This extra link with the field sets, especially in conjunction with the revised tab ordering and sandwiching the expandable/collapsible paragraphs between the links, adds to the user friendly logical approach for moving from link to link (set to set) and field to field (potentially to link).
• For Spouse field sets links, there is no indication that additional sets can be made available. These links look just like the other links for field sets. Therefore, included in the field set should be a link at the end with "Add Additional Spouse", rather than figuring out that going back UP the page and re-clicking the Spouse link will add another set instead of collapsing the current set.
• For Father and Mother field sets links, there is no indication that additional sets can be made available. These links look just like the other links for field sets.
— Having an "Add Additional Parents" link (which would open both additional Father and Mother field sets) at the end of both Father and Mother field sets would make this more obvious.
— You would not want to add a link saying "Add Additional Father" because adding one would potentially open another Father field set below the yet unused fields of the Mother in the current parents (clicking such a link at the end of the Father set would open another Father set below where the current set's Mother field set would appear.
— Instead of using Father and Mother links (as currently done), using a single Parents link that opens both together works better, even though offering additional fields to be tabbed through if the user does not have data for both parents. Additionally, sets of parents would be good to wrap in a thin border, showing each set as separate from other parents. Also, accommodation of the common situation of adoptive parents having the same mother would be good (perhaps a link which would copy down the mother from the previous set). Then at the end of a Parents fields set, have an "Add Additional Parents" link.