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Im currently working on a companies product website. They have multiple things you can sign up to via a form.

  • Get a Trial of the software
  • Sign up for a webinar
  • Request on site presentation
  • call me back
  • sign up for an event

Basically whether you click "Download Trial" or Contact youre taken to the same form but with different checkbox checked.

Whitepapers are also behind a form, when you click on "Download" on a specific whitepaper, you get to a form, and can select other whitepapers you want to ownload as well.

Question is, isnt this a bit confusing? Shouldnt a form do exactly 1 thing, the thing the user clicked like download should only enable you to download, contact only for contact and so on. Or are my concerns unfounded. Is there any data on this?

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Can you provide a screenshot, would be easier to analyze –  Mervin Johnsingh Feb 9 '13 at 13:46

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

A form with many choices is not per se bad UX – but a form without a focus around a specific topic/question/task probably is.

We had exactly this discussion related to one client's website – and decided to break the mega-form down to smaller pieces. I can't go into details to much, but the underlying structure would be something like this:

  • contact form [Email, Phone, Textfield, Newsletter-Checkbox]
  • trial request form [Name, Adress, Email, Phone, Newsletter-Checkbox]
  • project inquiry [Name, Adress, Email, Phone, Textfield, Newsletter-Checkbox]

…in the background it's the same form – but we wanted to lower the inhibition level and decided the user should not be confronted with too many fields. It seems to be working fine so far, nobody complained that he would have to fill out three different forms if he would want to request a trial AND a project inquiry AND would like to get in touch –– but that probably depends on the case, on the field, on the user group.

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Your concerns seem valid to me. Every form should have a single purpose.

If multiple forms have many fields in common, it should not be a concern of the front end to avoid duplication. That is better handled by the back end which can include templates for the or whatever your development stack uses to share common functionality, for the common fields.

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Is the same "type" of person likely to sign up for all of these, or are different user "types" (personas) likely to select different options depending on their needs and location?

1. What is the default/opt-in? If your client wants most people to attend the webinar, then that can be opt in and then you can focus on that form.

2. The one-trick pony. If something is clear enough, then it doesn't need to do just one thing. Two download buttons, for example, may be confusing in a vacuum, but written and placed correctly they can be crystal clear. The issue you have is connected to information design. What is the hierarchy? Which terms can or should be grouped together?

3. For more information on this topic: Luke Wroblewski’s book “Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks” and Caroline Jarrett and Gerry Gaffney’s “Forms That Work”. As a side note here, I was excited to read your question because I wrote a blog post that will eventually be published at Webdesigner Depot on this topic yesterday. http://uxandrew.wordpress.com

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This might work and provide a nice UX.

Have the form come up in a dialog box. Have in big text I would like to _______ ( you could try an auto complete but I don't see that working well. I would put an arrow button on the right side, in a sense a drop down. When the user makes a selection what they selected is now shown in the underlined field. Color the text differently so it stands out. Each drop down selection has different fields that need to be filled out. When one is selected have JS expand the dialog box automatically with the new fields that are needed for that selection. Give a submit button, do a callback to show the form was submitted and close dialog.

The initial dialog will be slender as the user is simply being asked to complete the sentence.

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