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I'm currently running a test on optional form input fields. I want to determine if these fields are used, or if some or all of them should be removed.

What would be the optimal number, or percentage of users I should test, to give me an answer I can be confident in? Let me know your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions.

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    Can you provide a little more context around the form's purpose? You will find a lot of articles on the web stating that if you don't need the field, then don't include it - but this is usually for user registration and relates to collecting unnecessary information. In which case the answer would be 0%, just make the change. If you are measuring a difference in the behaviour of the user, then 5% is commonly chosen for statistical significance in a/b tests, but again it depends on what you want. – Brett East Sep 1 '16 at 22:40
  • Understood and I believe we've been efficient in that aspect (general forms do's & dont's). Think loan application... While some information will be beneficial to both the company and the users applying -- it is optional. My goal is to find out weather or not users are providing that info and further improving. That said - I'm looking for a good starting point for how many users, no. of times the field is skipped, and/or sessions would validate that point? hope that makes sense... – Danny M. Sep 2 '16 at 11:37
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    Thank you @AndreDickson that's so much better :thumbsup: – Danny M. Sep 2 '16 at 16:16
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Use Form Analytics

If your interface is live and running you can track which forms are filled and which are left out. There are several tools available for this kind of analysis, including Google Analytics. Take a look at Hotjar if you don't want to hassle to set up the form tracking on Google Analytics.

User tests

If your application is still not live conduct 5 user tests and note down which fields the users are having difficulties filling in or are complaining that the fields are unnecessary. Make an excel sheet for that. After the first 5 test you will be able to identify input fields that can be removed. Then, make changes remove the problematic fields and conduct another 5 user tests to see if there is still difficulties with some of the form fields.

  • ...what I really want to know, for example, is if of 20 users 60% of them skip filling it out. is that enough data? should i watch 40 sessions? I don't want to NOT gather enough data. thanks for your help. – Danny M. Sep 2 '16 at 11:31
  • Yes the form analytics will tell you just that. To reach statistical significance you need more than 300 users at least. – Kristiyan Lukanov Sep 2 '16 at 12:51
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    Perfect! That is exactly what I was looking for. This is great. Thank you for your advice – Danny M. Sep 2 '16 at 16:06
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I'd look at how the recipients of the data use it rather than whether users provide it. Is your organization doing anything useful with the data from that field? Is it required for certain processes to be completed? Is it being stored in a database and never looked at? Does that piece of information contribute to the customization of the user's experience?

You're doing good work, scrutinizing optional form fields. My general sense is that most of them exist because someone on the project team suggested them and nobody asked why.

  • Yes. Instead of simply asking "why" I want to test, watch, and generate data and then ask "why". Have the conversation then w/ data in hand. But you're right. Maybe I'm going at this backwards since the app already exists but I'd like to see numbers then open the can =) thanks for your insight – Danny M. Sep 2 '16 at 16:04
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Since your question deals with very general web form problems, I strongly advise you to take a look at the researches and studies dealing with web forms.

It has been proved that bad designed web forms will lead to less completion, less user-satisfaction, and you won't be able to gather the information you need. I picked up for you several ressources that I find pertinent. As you could expect, it's not a "ready to use" solution, but if you follow the guidelines of these ressources, studies has proven that you will be able to get maximum information.

https://research.googleblog.com/2014/07/simple-is-better-making-your-web-forms.html

http://preibusch.de/publications/Preibusch-Krol-Beresford__voluntary_over-disclosure.pdf

Web Form Design

I strongly advise you to take a look at the last one. It has been written by one of the guru of the ux and design out there (Luke Wroblewski). It will help you a lot (just look at the first pages to understand).

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