Forms can be very tricky to get right, and we aim to monitor the success rate on our forms, some of which do have high error rates. It is useful to get an idea of a base level, its’ a helpful gauge when looking to optimise.
Jane Frost, Director, of the Individuals Customer Directorate at HM Revenue & Customs
‘Reality Check: What Your Customers Will Actually Do’
Customer-focused design based on user testing for forms, and all communications, is essential to reduce error rates, she said, although councils should be realistic: “With forms, there is a 5% error rate when you just ask people for their name, and with anything involving a calculation it is over 50%. This suggests that a form that is 10 questions long, even with the simplest questions, will have a base error rate of 25%.
The core aim in form design is to make the process as easy as possible for the user to achieve their goal. There are a bunch of very simple design features that can be employed to make the process easier.
I’d like to spend some time looking at forms on the site with a view to optimising them, both from an internal and a public perspective. If we can create forms out of a set of building blocks it should in theory be much easier to create forms quickly and effectively which in turn save the business money and produce a standard set of ways to navigate and complete forms, creating a satisfactory user experience.
Using an * to highlight mandatory or optional fields
Asterix’s tend to be used for both mandatory and optional fields therefore it’s good to use copy to explain the intention.
Applicants name and address
Reset and continue buttons
The reset button on a form can have very negative consequences. This is a secondary function and needs to be designed so with less presence than the continue button which has a primary function. It is important that primary and secondary functions are designed so that they have a clear visible distinctions.
Align the continue or submit button with the input fields.