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I've been asked to try and improve a one page calculator form. It is used by telesales people to work out what sort of deal they can offer to a customer and how much commission (called LTR) they stand to make off this particular deal. This is what the current setup looks like:

screenshot

The two limitations I have are that whatever I come up with has to still be a single page form (users have widescreen monitors in portrait orientation so I have a lot of vertical space to play with) and all of the fields are needed so I can't take anything out.

The main improvement that management are after is an increase in input speed.

So far the only things I can come up with are:

  • Make sure the tab order is correct to let users quickly tab through
  • Potentially break out the 'add terminal' button into a separate tabbed area
  • If there is scrolling, fix the right table so it scrolls with the screen

Are there any other obvious improvements that I am missing here?

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    Yes you are missing an obvious one: teach telesales people to type faster :D – Igor-G Jul 30 '14 at 9:54
  • I would if I could but there are quite a few of them :( – boz Jul 30 '14 at 9:57
  • When you say "improve" have you been provided with feedback from users about what needs improving? What are their concerns/irritations/etc? – DarrylGodden Jul 30 '14 at 10:03
  • @DarrylGodden I have held a few user interviews and they have been a bit of a mixed bag. I have some people telling me they like it as it is and others saying they would like to have an easier time when it comes to data entry. – boz Jul 30 '14 at 10:10
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    Use smart defaults and templates, if possible. – Alexey Kolchenko Jul 30 '14 at 10:47
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Profile your current usage. Find out what fields are most commonly used, and group them together, or at least float them to the tops of their sections.

For example, do you really require the user to select UK at the start of every call? Is that something you might change for only 5% of your calls? Can you move it down, or out of the way, so most calls don't start with a useless tab?

Do your callers follow a script? Does your form match your script, or does it jump around? Can you optimize your script?

Take a look at a profiling product like CrazyEgg. It will track how people use your page.

Here's a patentable idea: use your profile data to add a "pace bunny", like at the dog track. As the time ticks down during the call, have the background of the form gradually sweep down as a red gradient, showing which field they should be if their timing is on pace. It's a visual motivation that they may be wasting time on a no-commission call.

Consider adding dynamic script hints based on the field they're entering. It will help new hires come up to speed faster.

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Anyone who does fast data entry regularly as part of there job (from sales reps to screen traders) will prefer to do everything via the keyboard. You are on the right track with the tab order, but there are a few more things you can do.

  • Tabs are great for moving field, but you can also have a higher level navigation (shortcut keys***) to allow users to jump between sections. For example, pressing tab 15 times will bring a user to the "Debit" field in the "Rates Fees" section, but with high level navigation shortcut available you can reduce this to 3 shortcut presses and 2 tabs.
  • For long drop-down lists (where it takes more than a few arrow key presses to get to some selections), make sure the user can start free typing and get selections which match what they are typing (think "search box"). For example, I have a list of countries, and I type "Net" and get "Netherlands" automatically selected. Then I tab to the next field and "Netherlands" remains selected.
  • Prefilling where possible can make things faster, but be careful. Ensure that when you tab to a field the entire value is selected. This means that the user just has to start typing to replace the default. Don't make them have to backspace to delete the contents of any fields.

***Make sure your users are all aware of all such "hidden features".

  • I like the idea of shortcuts to sections rather than just fields. – boz Jul 30 '14 at 12:43
  • @Igor-G Perhaps, but that suggestion is a little too close to implementation details for answers on this site. – Franchesca Jul 30 '14 at 14:21
  • @Franchesca my bad deleted – Igor-G Jul 30 '14 at 14:22
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Additional suggestions:

  • Fields that are rarely used can be hidden, to reduce the visual clutter. Allow users to progressively disclose them, if needed. I see several fields in the example contain "Not required" so I wonder if you could do a quick frequency-commonality analysis of each field, for example by checking the log data or database values.

  • Improve the scannability of the form by replacing ALLCAPS labels with sentence capitalisation.

  • Improve scanning/reading speed by removing the reverse type (white on a dark ground) and instead using dark on a light ground.

  • Improve scanning/reading speed by increasing the contract between content and ground. This applies both to black text on a grey background and grey text on a white background.

A challenge to you: Track the average time on task before and after the changes, and then write a blog post about your findings.

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