Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Praise for a form

You know that I have a thing about forms, and I spend a lot of time criticising them. But I did always said that if I found an example of a good form, I'd sing its praises on high.

So, this is me singing.

The form is not an international form - it's for the Dutch market and is in Dutch - but is shows some good practices that I'd like to highlight. The form is from ShopPartners .

Dutch addresses are of the few in the world where a whole address can be derived from very little information - in our case a postal code and a house number - and the form starts by asking for that information to save the customer from typing their whole address - and the less you make your customer type, the happier they are. They show very clearly the number of steps you'll have to go through to order, and the section to the right gives clear examples of what they want should there be any doubt in the mind of the customer.

The second step expands the form with the address autocompleted. Nothing earth shattering there.

The form asks whether the customer is a private individual or a business - a great way of preventing customers from having to fill in or skip over fields which are not relevant to them, such as VAT numbers.

But what did make me smile - no, it made me get up and jig around my office - was that this is the first Dutch form I have come across which does not ask your form of address (Mr or Mrs - no other choices are given) and use it to assume your gender. Somebody has thought about this, and apart from Mr and Mrs the customer can also specify a department name or the name of a family. Still no chance for me to add Dr, Professor, Lord, Sir, Dipl. Ing., Mag. or any other one of the hundreds of forms of address that exist; but I do get the change to choose NONE (my own preference) - an escape route for customers not covered by the options provided - and this is rarely allowed on forms.

And again, descriptive examples of what is required are provided to the right of the fields.

Now, plenty of usability experts will pull me up and mention element placement, colours and numerous other "problems" with this form, but for me it's a huge step forward! Well done ShopPartners!

Want to know more about collecting good data from your web form? Download my free e-book here. And no form to fill in either!

No comments: