On web-forms : To next page or not

Today I want to discuss a simple frustration I have with forms on the web.

Half a decade back, I was told that it is nice to have shorter forms. Duh! That’s quite obvious, right? Well, the problem is that short forms generally aren’t enough to get all the data you want from the user. True, so form designers (one could be using google forms or sorts) thought of a nifty hack. How about breaking the form into multiple smaller forms. The user wouldn’t know how long the form is and it would gradually grow. Another option was to paginate it. It worked quite well in the past. Or, at-least that’s my guess.

Now, times have changed. Users (We) have learned the tricks of the trade. We’ve trained our intuition, the real neural network, to divide good forms from the bad. I noticed that I mostly just skip forms if they have multiple pages. I’ll definitely skip if a form doesn’t have an indication of how long it is.

Well, that’s enough for the rant. My suggestion for form designers are

  • Don’t fool your users
  • Give a clear indication of how long a form is.
  • If you paginate, indicate the number of pages, better if I know before-hand the number of fields.
  • Keep forms short, that’s the holy grail.

So, next time you ask someone to fill a survey/form you designed, make sure they know what they’re getting into.

That’s it.