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We're developing a form which may have a variable number of follow-up questions (based on user answers to an earlier question). Depending on user response, there could be between 0-13 follow-ups.

We are debating between using a single page with all of the follow-ups (however many appear), or a page for each of the 0-13 follow-ups.

My preference would be for more questions on a single page, to avoid extra clicking and to avoid confusing users who may not be expecting to be presented with multiple very similar pages.

However, I fear with this approach users may have issues when the form validates -- they now have to scroll through to find any questions they forgot to answer, where if each question is on its own page it is trivial for us to validate before we move to the next question.

This UX matters article seems to also agree with the long page idea, but it is aimed more at normal web pages rather than forms.

This question is similar, but I don't feel it applies because we aren't talking about a number of related items in a few categories, but rather a number of very similar items which all belong to the same logical category.

Assumptions: users are highly likely to be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with technology. They are likely older, perhaps disadvantaged. Also, while the entire range of question counts are valid (0-13), we suspect but do not have data to prove that the bulk of respondents will receive 1-6 questions.

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How many questions and sections are you looking at ? –  Mervin Johnsingh Nov 8 '12 at 18:06
    
The strategy to avoid the validation issue you mention is an accordion that validates each step: ux.stackexchange.com/a/24190/16833 . That answer also links to some interesting results in an experiment comparing conversion rates with accordions as compared to multi-page forms. –  Brian Nov 8 '12 at 18:11
    
@mervinj 0-13 total questions. They are all follow-ups to the same question (containing 13 check boxes), and aren't really able to be sectioned off in any reasonable manner. Most respondents will LIKELY get 1-6 questions, but that is a guess (not backed up by data/research, which we are unable to collect prior to initial release) –  PeterL Nov 8 '12 at 19:23
    
@Brian Thanks, that accordion idea is a good one. It may be something we can adapt to our situation. –  PeterL Nov 8 '12 at 19:25
    
so there can be 13 follow ups to each question and how many main questions in total? I am trying to figure out if an worst case scenario someone is looking at 169 (13 *13) questions –  Mervin Johnsingh Nov 8 '12 at 23:38
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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I think given the target user, single pages for each follow up is probably best. "Chunking" such as this simplifies task completion. Moreover, less chance for users to be surprised by the page changing (and confused about what has actually changed).

Another plus of the single page per follow-up approach is that you can give users a sense of the total length for the process as soon as the first page has been completed. Perhaps you can frame the first page as a kind of "tailoring the process"/"qualification" step.

Regarding accordions, you might be interested in this article from the Baymard Institute in which they reported common user difficulties with this style of page interaction: http://baymard.com/blog/accordion-style-checkout. As an example, they saw some people use the "back" button in the browser to go back to another section, and consequently lose work. That was partially an implementation failure, but it reflects a broader issue with the accordion model.

Hope this helps,

Jessica

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