Thursday, August 30, 2007

Getting A Form's Structure Right

Creating a usable online application form ...

"In the modern family, where often both parents are working full-time and the children are involved in many after-school activities, people may only have a few minutes to spare on an important task during the day. And it’s the Internet that supposedly helps people achieve this. But do we, as designers and usability practitioners, always help them do it? I say, “No.”

Just the other day, a friend of mine came up to me and complained about the hassles of an online mortgage application that she went through a day before: "I go online, I find myself learning about the mortgage process. I begin to apply for it online and then I am suddenly encountering messages that are incomprehensible. It took me almost 3 hours! And I’m not even sure if I was successful at it!"

Ironically, we expect websites to help us learn. But poorly designed online financial application forms can discourage users from applying online. In fact, people may simply give up and decide to apply over the phone or at a local branch. "Yes! Traveling all the way to a branch would make things simpler," my friend added.

The usability industry is growing and moving forward day-by-day. But as usability practitioners, are we getting the basics right before moving ahead? I think not.

There are three people who determine success of an online application form: the usability practitioner, the designer, and the user (Image 1).

n this article, I will focus on the basic issues that a usability practitioner must address to create a usable online financial application form:

1. Affordance
2. Orientation
3. Chunking

Although I will concentrate on financial application forms, the principles outlined in this article could certainly be applicable outside the Financial Services industry."    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows)    [Usability Resources]

Usability Practitioners - Usability, User Interface Design

Usability Practitioners

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