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Usability of forms

Long vs Multi Page

11:16 am on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi Guys,

I'm looking to put an application form on a website that consists of approx 90 fields for the user to fill out.

I'm wondering if we should put the form on the site as one large page consisting of several sections, or if that form should be split into seperate pages? The form does consist of 6 definate areas, so would benefit from being split accross several pages, but from a user point of view, is the multi-page better, or is the one long form better?

Is there any research out there on this subject?



11:32 am on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Is there any research out there on this subject?

I'm going to guess that Jakob probably has a few things on this.

<added> He does...

Forms vs. Applications

Once an online form goes beyond two screenfulls, it's often a sign that the underlying functionality is better supported by an application, which offers a more interactive user experience.

Note that the sheer length of a form is not a sufficient reason to break it up. Yes, it's best to stick to one or two screenfulls: If a form takes up many screens, you should seriously consider eliminating some of the questions and options. Otherwise, you're likely to overwhelm users and reduce your conversion rate. But, if all elements are truly needed, you can certainly place them on one long page -- just ensure that each element is easy and that all users have to do is keep scrolling (and sighing) as they complete each step in the long march to the blessed submit button.

I too am faced with a similar situation right now. Not as many fields, but a lengthy form that users are having some issues with.

Some questions for you...

Are you storing the form results to a database? If so, do you allow the users to save their data while they are inputting?

Do you have a session timeout set?

If you were to put yourself in the users situation, would six forms be easier or would the one be fine? You state that there are six distinct sections, I might suggest breaking it up if it makes it easier on the user.