What can be simpler than designing an ideal form? You create fields, type in questions, and get replies in your favorite format for analysis, right? Wrong. This is something a user would say. A designer sees the opposite side of the coin. Creating an ideal form is tough. Using UX design is the right approach to making the task easier.
More than 30 percent of users make mistakes when filling out forms. In order to reduce the mistakes to a minimum you have to offer assistance and exploit validation.
Form Filling: User Assistance
The best way to keep the user’s mistakes to a minimum is to assist him or her with filling out the form. Since you are not there to guide each user personally, you should have the AI do it for you.
Before asking a user to fill out a form, give out short instructions. Make sure to keep them as short as possible since long snippets frustrate users. A straightforward form doesn’t require initial instructions. If you are sure you form is easy to understand, skip this part. If not, you have about 75 – 100 words to give the readers some advice.
You are asking a user to fill out some complicated field, the name of which is far from being straightforward. Add a “What’s This” button. This is a great solution since it doesn’t interfere with the work of people, who know what you are talking about. Again, the text shouldn’t be long. Stick to under 100 words.
When you start asking people to share private information, such as social security, passport number (in rare cases it’s necessary) or date of birth, explain why you are doing it. Many users back out of filling a form because they are afraid for their privacy. Add a “Why do we need this info” button and explain the matter. Also, add information about the security of your website/company, which makes sure that all the private data stays private.
Add some helpful stuff to your forms, such as a calendar and/or a calculator to make it easy for the users to deal with some information they have to present. You can also have a built-in spelling and grammar checker to help them avoid typos.
Adding help text near every field may be necessary for complex forms. In order not to make the procedure overwhelming, the form can offer pop-up messages only when the user activates the field. The downside of this method is that long help messages cover up other fields. Again, keep the messages short.
Make sure the users make fewer mistakes by designing the form in a way that they just can’t make them. For example, when asking for an address, create separate fields for each piece of information (street, apt, city, zip code). This helps a user focus the attention on each word.
Form Checking: Validation
No matter how much effort you put into assisting a user with filling out a form, some people still make mistakes. That’s where validation comes in.
Real Time Validation
Your form can check for some errors and inform the user BEFORE he or she submits a form rather than deal with mistakes afterwards. We already talked about spelling mistakes. Another way to check the form is to ensure the right format of the answer. For example, an email address without @ or .com shouldn’t be accepted. In addition, the validation should prevent the user from submitting a form with empty fields.
Such helpful programs as address, email, and phone validators can be integrated into some software in order to prevent spelling mistakes or to catch the user on giving incorrect information. These programs help the user check the information before submitting and allow you not to have troubles when processing it.
Once the form is filled out and validated, it’s important to ask the user to check it again. Such small message at the bottom of the form shouldn’t annoy the users. Meanwhile, it may stimulate them to review the information one more time.