Forms design

Forms are like a dialogue between an organisation and its customers. In this dialogue the organisation is asking a series of questions with the goal of gaining quality information from the customer. In this dialogue the organisation has only one opportunity to ask the question clearly and accurately because the customer cannot seek clarification on what is meant by any of the questions being asked. This means that if the question isn’t clear or is hard to decipher, it is fair to assume the answer may also be problematic.

Error rates on forms are a significant cost burden to organisations in several ways, including:
the cost to fix errors (the time employees spend contacting customers to clarify answers)
the time taken to process information that is not accurate
poor business decisions made on the basis of incorrect information collected from a customer.

When considering the cost of poor forms design, the unquantifiable cost of customer frustration and brand damage needs to be added to the mix. After all, forms are a window into an organisation. The way an organisation “speaks” to its customers through a form says a lot about the organisation’s culture and attitude to its customers.

Good forms design is a combination of clearly articulated questions, appropriate explanations, clean design and an appropriate layout. Good design, coupled with a range of other tools such as usability testing, benchmarking, and piloting, can result in high-end design and significant cost savings.

Poorly designed forms lead to errors, customer frustration and costly processing time. They are the equivalent of a poorly structured conversation and often result in miscommunication. The information you gather on a form is used as the basis for your business decisions and no organisation wants their business decisions to be based on miscommunication.

The need for good forms design applies equally to electronic forms (e-forms) and paper-based forms.

A one page form is not the solution

Many think that a one page form is the solution to al things form-related.