In making recommendations for a lengthy registration form, I am faced with the challenge of how to lay it out without confusing the user.
In the current implementation, there are many possible pages (not every user will see every page) with various numbers of input controls. The longest page has over 30 inputs, but the shortest has only 1! Nearly all of the information is required. Obviously, the organization is data-driven rather than user-centric. Not surprisingly, our users are often frustrated by the process and prefer to call in their information. It is also worth noting that the users do not fill out this form frequently, in fact, many only complete this form once in a lifetime.
I believe I need to even out the distribution of questions, and provide some indicator of progress that is at least somewhat representative of reality (the current breadcrumb menu is misleading). I have identified 6 logical sections, and 2-5 steps within each section, to better organize the form.
Now I need to facilitate conversations around layout. One person suggested we combine everything into one huge form. Another person suggested a long wizard, with each step as its own page. Based on input from this question, I had suggested we arrange it into tabs for each of those 6-7 sections and use an accordion control to expose steps in each section.
My question: Can anyone provide support for wizard vs scrolling (vs the hybrid idea)? I would prefer documented studies I can provide to decision makers, but anecdotal evidence for one thing or another is also welcome.
Please note: The business rules are NOT changing, so reducing the overall inputs is not an option. My question is limited to improving what I have.