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I'm designing a 4 step insurance form.

  1. enter details
  2. view your quote
  3. etc. etc.

Someone has asked why have we done vertical steps (i.e. finish step 1 and move onto new page step 2).

Now we know users don't mind scrolling and long pages are in-fact okay. would it perform better if we implemented as vertical steps instead? i.e. as you finish step 1, it moves the user down the page instead?

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2 Answers

I would say it depends on the complexity of your form. If each steps contains at most 3-4 questions and most of the questions are pretty much self explanatory and straight forward, i.e. do not require a lot of help text, then you should implement the form as vertical steps instead. That would save users a few clicks. Otherwise, you could opt for one step per page.

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You're basically right when you say that users don't mind scrolling, but as NNGroup points out:

Web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold. (http://www.nngroup.com/articles/scrolling-and-attention/)

In the same article, they point out that (in articles) it's better to do scrolling than paging, "because it's easier for users to simply keep going down the page than it is to decide whether or not to click through for the next page of a fragmented article".

What I conclude from it is:

  • articles - use scrolling.
  • step-by-step forms - use paging

These are of course no static rules, but they give a good starting point.

Like donysukardi mentioned in his answer, it depends a lot on the complexity of your form. The Wizard Pattern can also work if all steps are on the same page (doesn't matter if horizontally or vertically arranged). If

  • the steps are separated into logical or functional groups,
  • you provide the next and previous navigation elements and
  • you're having as few steps as possible

you'll be facing no major problems. But personally, I'd go with the standard way.

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Thanks everyone. really helpful. –  Anon Dec 17 '13 at 17:20
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