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I am designing a registration form for a site with multiple sets of information required from the user. I have categorized the data fields into relevant groups. Now should I present the form sections in one go or follow a wizard-like approach? What things should I keep in mind while deciding on this?

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It depends! Can you give us more data about the use case, who has the data required and what it's used for? –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Jul 5 '11 at 12:56
    
one kind of data is basic info like name, email etc, then there is also more detailed stuff like address, gender, date of birth, contact info etc, and lastly there are some user-type dependent questions... –  Kartik G Jul 5 '11 at 18:19
    
Well, do you need all this information at once, or can it be staggered? –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Jul 6 '11 at 12:22
    
Hmm.. it can be staggered.. but like I said, some information is contextual and may not be displayed for a certain user type. –  Kartik G Jul 7 '11 at 13:50

2 Answers 2

I refer you to Luke Wroblewski's talk: - Sign up forms must die http://www.lukew.com/presos/preso.asp?25 where he describes some things to do and some really annoying things not to do.

If you need to do this, gradual engagement is key. Really consider whether you have to get all the information on the first sign up encounter, or can some of it wait.

The very fact that you are gathering enough info at sign up that you need to ask this question is an indicator that it's too much at once.

I visited a site recently, to sign up it asked me for an email address only. Nothing more. I got a nice welcome email thanking me, telling me more about what I could do, links to some pages of interest, telling me how I could get help, contact information, and a big get started button. If I wanted to make use of some more features I could add necessary info to my profile as required.

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+1 Only ask for what you need; when you need more you can ask for that and otherwise let the user choose. (For example, you don't need a physical address unless you're going to ship something, validate a credit card, confirm residency for import restrictions, etc. You probably never need a phone number. Preferences can wait. Etc.) –  Monica Cellio Jul 5 '11 at 13:02
    
@Roger and @Monica Yes I agree with the point here- deciding what information is indispensable and what can be deffered would help streamline the procedure... –  Kartik G Jul 5 '11 at 18:22

I think it can depend on form length but if all the questions are relevant and grouped logically the user will be likely to complete. Invaluable form best-practice research has been carried out by Luke Wroblewski and you can download a PDF here http://www.lukew.com/resources/articles/WebForms_LukeW.pdf or just google search for his work. I totally recommend it.

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