Roll of 'preview' in using a form to create a document?

This might sound complicated, but I’m REALLY interested in people’s opinions…

We have a form that our users can use to create a document. Sometimes the document could be quite long. The form is simple, but the user can [+ add] some of the fields if they want to enter more than one of that ‘type’ of data. Which is quite likely.

We have a [preview] function so that people can see what their document will look like for the recipient. (this ability is very important to the user).

We have 4 required fields in the form. I am assuming users will want to be able to preview as they go, even if they haven’t completed all the required fields. My team does not agree. I know the answer to any question is ‘test with the user’ which we will. I am just interested to know how much of an outlier my assumption is.

Do any of you UXers share my assumption? Or am I really left-field here?

Looking forward to some replies!

I would definitely want to preview as I go. Out of curiosity if nothing else.

I would agree with Hawk. That’s one of the Nielsen Norman heuristics for interaction design - user control and freedom. I would think you would want the form to highlight missing info during a preview. (I.e., here’s your preview, did you know you’re missing required info? )

As a user, I would be pretty miffed if I couldn’t use preview while I’m in the middle of filling out the form.

Good luck!


Thanks folks! Interesting… anyone disagree?

I should clarify, we only have 4 required fields but we have 8 fields in the basic form + the ability to duplicate fields + ability to upload multiple file attachments.

This is something we’re doing right now. In this project we’re building exam questions and allowing the admins who are creating the questions to see the learner view i.e. what the question will look like on the exam as they are building each question. It’s a live preview and we’ve added and icon to signify that they can turn it on or off.

I should note, we did ask our users first if it would be a feature they would value, their response was yes.

Hope this is valuable to you.


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This is really interesting!

I am currently working on a project where the user has to create an item that people will buy (think selling things on ebay but more complex!) I have taken the wizard approach as it’s a very complex feature with lots of options. The last step (5) is a preview that allows the user to see what the buyer will see and also to preview all the data on one screen. I hadn’t even considered the fact that they may want to preview as they go along! I may have to adjust my design!

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I do!
If I understood well, the complexity is related to the option to duplicate fields.
I guess, as a user, you will have all your content in one single view and I don’t see added value to providing a preview of one single page.
The focus should be on filling-in the form and at the end of the full process be able to review before sending it.

In case it’s a process and/or a wizard a “temporary preview” could be a nice approach.

Do u have any wireframe/MU for this feature to show us?

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