1

The situation:

Users have to go through a long wizard with about 10 forms/pages. At this point, all 'Save' buttons bring them back to the same page after saving instead of the next step of the process. Redirecting user to the next page after completing the form is of course ideal, but 2 of the forms require multiple inputs (e.g. describe all incidents of xyz. User inputs incident #1 > Save > Comes back to same page to input incident #2. We wanted to ajax this so the user don't have to see a page refresh all the time, but due to tech limitations, we'll have to make do with single-page php forms for now).

As a result, team decided to return user to the same page for ALL the pages for consistency. We have a less prominent 'Next' button to go to the next step.

Concerns:

  1. Returning user to the same page may indicate that there is something that still needs to be done, but really, all's good. We do have an green notification to indicate success.
  2. We are concerned that with returning to the same page, it is quite 'passive' and could demotivate the user to quit. Or it would confuse the user (There is a less prominent 'next' button at the bottom that they should click to the next step. Maybe this entire thing can be solved with just having a more prominent 'Next' button?).
  3. Is it worse to redirect for some pages and not for others than to just not redirect users at all?

We will do a user testing soon but we would still want to come up with the best UX for now as the sales team would be demo-ing the product and we don't want to confuse/annoy potential clients.

2

TL;DR

  1. Maybe add the next button to the notification itself. "All's good! Please, continue."
  2. I think have 10 pages worth of form fields to fill out would be the demoralizing factor causing users to quit. (Not being harsh, just pointing out that the problem you are attempting to solve may not be the real underlying UX problem. Trying to get the user to conform to the implementation as opposed to getting the implementation to conform to the user expectation/desire.)
  3. There is something to be said for consistency. And, there's still a deeper problem not be addressed, I think.
  4. Don't let technology be a crutch for bad UX. That's just the developer in me talking.

I'm not sure I'm following the purpose of the form. It sounds like it could be something like a medical form; so, let's go with that for now. As part of this form the user is supposed to answer the question, "Have you ever broken a bone?" If they answer, "Yes." They are presented with a form to begin adding each broken bone individually. So, I fill out that I broke my left arm in 2010 -> save. I am brought back to the same form (only we have my broken bone recorded. I fill out that I broke my right arm 2011 -> save. I am brought back to the form. So and so forth.

Presumably, there's a place where I, as the user get to see all this data compiled, yeah? Profile page. My medical history. Something.

Hopefully, I'm at least close on the general idea.

What a lot of folks will do in long, multi-part (potentially infinite from the description) forms is to put the summary at the end. I tend to think this is a poor move from a UX perspective. Instead, consider putting the summary at the beginning, and making a portal into the rest of the forms.

For example, I have a site right now where people have the ability to say, "I'm going to be at this conference. While at this conference I will be giving this session, this other session, and so on." Now, other people on the team can also say they are going to be at the same conference and giving N sessions as well. All PHP server-side application.

The flow goes like this:

  1. Click "New appearance..."
  2. Fill out the form for the venue. (XYZ Conference, May 2 to 5, etc.)
  3. Click "Save".
  4. Present form for session details form. With the option to create a new topic. (What day is it, what topic is it, will anybody else be with you.)
  5. Click "Save".
  6. If new topic, present topic details form. And complete it.
    • Click "Save".
  7. Present appearance page, with selected (or newly created) session...and a form to add a new session. (Add new things on the summary page.)

Now, someone else coming in behind you can just go straight to the venue, add their session, hit save and be done. (With possibly having to add a new topic.)

The only time a user gets directed to the same page in that sequence is if there are errors on the form. Otherwise, we have built everything into a cycle that makes sense and the users know they will be creating something new. The longest cycle is when creating everything from scratch; otherwise, if you picked one of your saved topics, you would just go to the venue page, with your session in place.

We do a similar thing with training classes and courses.

We also have the ability for someone to register N credit cards. What I do here is to list all the registered credit cards, then make the form for adding a new one the last row. Someone can enter a new card, then get redirected back to that same page.

Guess what I'm driving to is this.

If your users click a button to start a form...and they have to fill out all 10+ pages (no way to stop or step away for a second); they're probably not going to be thrilled. I don’t know how many questions there are per sub-form (if each one a single question, it will most likely still be annoying, but now you could probably make it a single form - or multiple forms on a single page - the credit card one mentioned above has two “forms” for each card; one for setting default the other for deleting).

This is why registration for websites has gone from the first name, last name, street address, first born, blood type...and so on to email and password. Are there ways to take, say, all the optional fields and make them truly optional?

For example, my site requires three pieces of information to fully register. On the first form, I ask for your email address. This prompts an email to be sent to you. You follow the link. Fill out what want your username and password to be. You're done.

Optionally, you can add an avatar. You can put in your first and last name. Add credits cards. Create a bio. So on so forth.

What outcome is the user trying to achieve? (From the description I'm not sure other than filling out a form; so, kinda flying blind here.)

Have you asked your users how they feel about the form? It sounds like you've talked with the team...but they're most likely not the users.

What benefit to the user, besides consistency, is there to having them go to the same page? If that page does not display the newly created information, there isn't any really.

There's also something to be said for "Save and continue" and "Save and add more" buttons. Consider the macOS. There is usually a single primary action button. And a secondary action button.

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The primary action could be "Save and continue" typically what users would expect a primary action to do (denotes finality). The secondary action button could be "Save and add another".

Hope that helps. If you give more details on why the users are filling out this form and what they are trying to accomplish by doing so, I might be able to hone a bit more.

Update: while I appreciate that business thinks all the fields unless they are a legal requirement, this may not actually be the case and business may just not be able to see an alternative because they don’t have the proper incentive. For example, if business is motivated by money, and the product a subscription service, and the form we’re talking is the subscription form (that also collects a bunch demographic information). If you talk with potential users (again, get out of office) and they say, “I’m not signing up for this thing...form too annoying.” You now have a business case to say, “Of the 100 people we spoke with, 30 of them said they wouldn’t buy a subscription because of the form. Is that okay?”

  • Hi there, thanks for your answer. #1 is a decent solution, I will present it to the head later on. For the most part, you got the idea. We've implemented the summary part already (just didn't think it was worth mentioning whoops), as in user can see all they have input and an option to add more if they wish. Each page has an 'overview' area so to speak, to guide the users better. – gummybearpaws Nov 7 '17 at 7:47
  • Also, to address the ten forms part, I do think 10 forms are crazy too, the targeted users knows they have to go through this many steps, it's just us trying to make their lives less hellish as possible (also navigating client demands are difficult, it seems all info MUST be collected sigh). I have brought forward the issue of redirecting users upon completing the form, it seems they have decided not to do it after all so there's that /sadpanda. – gummybearpaws Nov 7 '17 at 7:53
  • I definitely understand how it can feel with client demands. And, to channel a mentor of mine: Why is the client doing design? Their job is to make widgets. Your job is to understand making widgets just enough to design something that delivers the desired business outcome. Reclaim your profession! Good luck. – Josh Bruce Nov 7 '17 at 14:43

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