Forming a form part one – Abandonment

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Browsing the Internet the other day, I was presented with two forms to complete all within 10 minutes of each other. While the first was pretty straight forward and to the point, the second had one aspect that really made me think twice about whether it was worth completing and whether I had the right criteria (more on that later).

The flip side of this though, is that it’s given me an idea for a series of articles on form creation (every cloud ‘n all that…)!

While forms are great for quickly gathering data (with little effort from the business requesting the information itself) there is a fine line between a form’s success and its abandonment. This article aims to briefly describe reasons for form abandonment and further articles (to be published soon) will describe them in more detail.

The main causes of a form to be abandoned before reaching the end goal can generally fall into the following categories:

  • Too many steps and therefore more opportunities to leave
  • Broken forms
  • Asking for too much information
  • Unclear steps and the user having to really think about what’s being asked

Another reason I would like to add to this list is; seemingly exclusive options (a relation of ‘Asking for too much information’)

By this I mean options presented to the user that can give a negative effect or feeling of bias (i.e. is it worth them taking the time to fill out the form?). In the example below is a form dropdown that I was presented with while signing up to a funding advice website. The form asked for details of my employment status and the highlighted option is ‘In Prison’. Now, this says two things to me, either they were trying very hard to be politically correct OR there is some kind of quota that needs filled and by not selecting ‘prison’ I’d be at a disadvantage.

I realise that there will have been a great deal of thought that went into the data capture for this form and I would guess that this was a vital statistic that they required. But, what we are trying to highlight is that any extra information requested is an additional thought process the user has to go through before completing the goal and hitting submit. In my case it resulted in taking a screen capture and creating a blog post (breaking up the flow somewhat!), hitting ‘submit’ came after!

Prison Form

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