Msg#: 3919665 posted 12:31 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)
One thing that almost always comes out ahead in usability testing is the simpler, the better. In this case, switching from four form fields to two should have a positive effect. The classic view forces two obligatory fields, which can be frustrating for users who are unsure of what they are searching for, or know information handled by the optional fields but not the obligatory ones. The simpler two-box version uses back-end programming to separate out the appropriate information, and the simplicity of the two box "what" (business name) and "where" (location) should make for fewer errors by the end users.
Obviously we can only make certain assumptions in the absence of any formal (or even informal) interface testing, but it is extremely rare to see more complex forms win out over simpler ones. My personal preference in this case would certainly be the new interface.
Msg#: 3919665 posted 4:55 am on Jun 9, 2009 (gmt 0)
Very good answer, encyclo! I completely agree with you.
On a personal note, about a year ago I was involved in a similar exercise. We replaced four fields with one, creating highly sophisticated logic on the server end to decipher the user entry and separate the data into its four logical behind-the-scenes buckets. The result has been nothing but positive. The new interface has virtually eliminated erroneous entries, while improving the speed of results while maintaining accuracy. As an added bonus, the new one-field feature sees a much higher percentage of use than its old counterpart, which sometimes became a place of abandonment.
Msg#: 3919665 posted 6:25 am on Jun 9, 2009 (gmt 0)
I remain, as ever, the K.I.S.S. adherent. Assumption one: Users are generally stupid. Assumption two: programmers are, too. Can't do anything about Assumption one, but we can do all we can about Assumption two! Reality is you need both working together to get Assumption three: Results are possible if only we work at it!