Users can be overwhelmed by the idea of filling in a blank free text field. but if they answer other, relevant questions beforehand, you can make them to think and respond in certain ways, inspiring them to write focused free text.
As I’ve mentioned before, there’s compelling evidence to suggest that free text boxes deter users, likely because without direction, it’s difficult to think how to answer, and this poses a serious barrier to conversion and form success. There are a few ways to resolve this (besides replacing free text fields altogether), but I want to talk about one idea in particular: putting easier, relevant questions first.
The idea is that when the user answers other, easier questions first, he or she is invited to think about the subject matter in particular ways. They gain a sense of the kinds of data the form or website is looking for, and they’re already primed to provide relevant data thanks to the fact they’ve already recalled it for other questions. Continue reading ‘Prime your users to answer freetext fields’ »
When creating a form for an organization or group of users, take a look at how they divide labour and knowledge. You might find you have to separate forms, or let them ‘transfer’ between different users.
If you’re designing an application for a client that has more than one user – for example, a business or social group – then it pays to research how that group is organized, and whether all knowledge and duties relevant to your app are shared amongst the group. It might turn out that your form asks for data that actually belongs to more than one person, or that the duty of completing your form is actually shared by two people. Continue reading ‘Check out your users’ division of labour’ »
As an avid believer that less form fields = better, I was recently surprised to read research that indicated more form fields don’t drastically reduce conversion rate. According to the author, Dan Zarrella:
I found that as the number of form fields increases, conversion rates decrease slightly, but not as steeply as I expected. I then looked at specific types of form fields, starting first with simple, one-line text fields. Again, to my surprise, I found that there is very little decrease in conversion rate as the number of single line text fields increases.
Like him, I was taken aback. Did users really not mind answering more questions? Well, actually, not quite. It turns out they did mind certain questions:
I then turned my attention to more sophisticated fields, first multi-line text entry “textareas”. Here I found that multiple textareas have a powerful depressing effect on conversion rates. Finally I analyzed drop-down select boxes. Again, I found that multiple drop down fields on a landing page tends to be associated with lower conversion rates.
Why would this be? Why would users quite happily accept extra questions of one sort but shy away from another?
The answer, I suspect, is that the textareas and dropdowns that Zarella’s users avoided forced them not to just provide data, but make decisions, choosing from large ranges of data. These questions imposed so much cognitive workload, even one could outweigh several slot-in queries. Continue reading ‘When do extra form fields reduce conversion rates?’ »