Formulate plans for a big year

Formulate Information Design hopes all our clients, peers, friends and family had a safe, enjoyable and restful holiday period. We say “restful”, because despite the doomsday-like news reports, we’re looking forward to a year packed with interesting projects, speaking engagements and innovative research, and we would love you to be involved.

2008 ended on a high note for Formulate as we celebrated our 1st birthday and were busy with a diverse set of projects, one of which even went live on Christmas Eve! By all accounts, 2009 looks to be just as busy.

Speaking engagements

Formulate is delighted to be giving two presentations and one workshop at the 2009 BFMA Symposium, to be held in San Antonio, Texas, 26–30 April.

The presentations will be completely new. The first, tentatively scheduled for 10:30am on Tuesday 28th, will be on the fascinating topic of writing effective questions. As our brief exploration of psychology and sociology will show, being successful in this endeavour is actually harder than it sounds.

The second presentation will outline visual design principles for laying out electronic forms. This presentation, planned for 3:30pm on Wednesday 29th, will arm attendees with foundational principles that explain how humans perceive, interpret and work with the things they see on the screen before them. This is an important consideration as forms are increasingly distributed, completed and processed electronically.

Our BFMA Symposium workshop is an extension of the very successful 2008 presentation “Making Paper Forms Electronic”. Having a workshop slot will mean the session can be significantly more hands-on, a real plus for such a practical topic. There is no additional fee for the workshop—just come along and join us at 8:30am on Thursday 30th.

Not quite so far away, in both geography and time, is our presentation at the first Canberra Web Standards Group meeting for 2009. The meeting, to be held at the National Library of Australia auditorium on the afternoon of Wednesday 4 February. This presentation is going to be about our 2008 research into the practice of zebra striping, the application of faint shading to alternate rows of tabular data. We plan to cover not only the research approach and findings, but also the interesting reaction amongst the web community that the research inspired. Come along to hear some unadorned and eyebrow-raising stories!

Supporting the forms community

Every professional benefits from the opportunity to network and share knowledge and experience with peers, and people working in forms-related roles are no different. However, many such forms professionals don’t realise that there is an organisation that supports such collaboration: Business Forms Management Association (BFMA) International.

BFMA International started in North America over 50 years ago and is today the only professional group in the world for form designers, developers and managers. In 2008, Jessica Enders became BFMA Region Coordinator for Australasia and the Pacific. Already members in this region have been meeting once a month, via telephone. In 2009, Jessica hopes to spread the BFMA word in the region and grow the membership base, which will in turn increase the benefits delivered to BFMA members in the region. Contact us for information about the Association or becoming a member.

Business as usual

Of course, aside from all of the above we aim to continue providing exemplary service to our clients and publishing original articles on form design best practice on our website. If you have a particular topic that you would like to have discussed, please drop us a line via