Online Forms: Balancing Business Requirements with End-User Needs
When you operate a business, you use online forms and workflows to ensure consistent quality, while improving efficiency and accuracy. The people who use them want forms that make sense and that don’t require unnecessary effort. How do you balance these needs so as not to end up with either useless forms or permanently frustrated end-users?
Many of us have had the displeasure of having to complete forms that are unreadable, confusing, or that aren’t efficient or logical about collecting information. These forms tend to be ones that are on paper, but online forms can be poorly designed too. Balancing online form and workflow design to meet the needs of both the organization and the end-user largely depends on your choice of form software.
When Online Forms Forget the End-User
Online forms may be intuitively more accurate and efficient than their exact counterpart on paper, but “online” doesn’t automatically mean “good.” Online forms can be aesthetically unpleasing, they can run on for too long without offering the user the brief respite of a page break, and they can have confusing instructions or bad submission designs. Have you ever filled out a lengthy online form only to have it rejected due to a single, small error somewhere and had to start over? Forms that completely neglect the end-user can be demoralizing. Corporate efficiency gains may be overshadowed by end-user complaints and frustration.
When Online Forms Cater Exclusively to the End-User
It’s possible to take it too far in the other direction too. Spend too much time making a form beautiful, and you may forget to include critical form fields, which could cause someone to have to go back to collect that information later. Online forms, while they should be as brief as possible, still must contain all fields that are necessary to gather the information for which the form was designed. If you don’t ask for enough detail, (thinking that the person who receives the form will be able to “read between the lines” and make the right conclusions), you could be in for a rude surprise.
How the Right Form Software Helps
The right form and workflow software helps by allowing form creation and modification to be straightforward and logical. Making changes shouldn’t be a disruptive undertaking. Careful design by someone with experience in creating workflows might result in a form or workflow designer getting it right the first time, but that’s rare.
Often, forms are beta-tested with selected users, incorporate feedback, are modified and retested, only to discover unexpected problems once the form is released to everyone. The right form software doesn’t lock you into a design but makes it easy for a non-technical user to both create and optimize forms without the need for complicating matters by hiring a programmer.
Form and Workflow Development as an Iterative Process
Ultimately, form and workflow development is an iterative process, with a drive toward continual improvement. It doesn’t mean you make incremental changes to a form every day to try to tweak them, but it does mean regularly gathering feedback and listening to what form users have to say about their experience. Neither should you design a form or workflow once and for all and expect every end-user to happily fall in line if it isn’t well-designed and executed. Getting to that ideal form or workflow requires give and take so that the needs of the organization and the needs of the end-users are balanced.
PerfectForms is form and workflow software that makes it easy for the non-technical user to create and perfect online forms and workflows. Not only can you ensure forms take in all necessary data and process that data accordingly, you can also make sure that online forms and workflows offer a pleasant and aesthetically good end-user experience. You neither have to sacrifice business needs for end-user experience, nor vice versa. Intrigued? You can try out PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. Give it a go and see how well your forms and workflows can balance organizational and end-user needs.
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