Saturday, October 13, 2007

Web Form Design in the Wild, Part II

More discussion and tips for designing forms ...

"Whenever I’m asked why I obsess over the details of Web forms, I quickly respond, “It's because form design really matters.” Run an e-commerce site? Forms broker checkout and, as a result, your sales. Building social software? Forms control the gates of membership. Manage a Web application? Forms allow data to be added and manipulated.

It’s not hard to find lots of examples where these crucial experiences could be improved through better Web form design. In fact, it’s worth looking at a few Web forms in the wild to see what lessons they hold. In Part I of this series of articles on web forms, I shared eight form design tips based on my recent user experience with the Fairmont Hotel site. This week, I'll share additional tips by taking a closer look at the Boingo and British Airway Web sites.
Commerce: Boingo

As a frequent flyer, I regularly find myself jumping onto airport wireless Internet connections between flights. Just about every airport uses a different service provider, so I rarely remember if I’ve used a service before.

Not that it should matter as my only goal is to gain access to the Internet so I can check email, look up information on the Web, or get some work done. Most often, I don’t have a lot of time because my flight will be leaving soon. This means I’m already sold on the service (I know I want to get online), and I’m in a hurry.

Any Web form being used in this context should strive to minimize the amount of time it takes to complete and work to be as error-free as possible. Boingo, pictured below, unfortunately gets this wrong by insisting all potential customers create a user account before getting online. The inclusion of this step causes unnecessary questions: do I have to create an account? If so, why do I need one? Maybe I already have an account? Boingo doesn’t answer any of these questions.

Form design tip nine: Unless you and your customer’s interests are clearly aligned, explain why you are asking for data that may not seem relevant.

To make matters worse, these particular input fields quickly put me in the pogo-sticking mode of guessing a username that might be available, submitting the form, finding out my selection is taken, and repeating the process all over again. Back and forth I go until I finally guess a username obscure enough not to be taken, yet familiar enough that I have a slim chance of remembering it."    (Continued via UIE)    [Usability Resources]

Boingo Form - Usability, User Interface Design

Boingo Form


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