Some form fun, to lighten the mood

28 Nov 2007 - 10:23pm
6 years ago
21 replies
511 reads
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

This one cracks me up.

http://www.mutualofomaha.com/plan_members/oii.html

Choose Yes for all the three radio button options, then check each of the
checkboxes that appear as a result. (No need to type anything.) Have fun!

--
-Robert Hoekman, Jr.-
CEO / Principal Experience Designer
Miskeeto, LLC — www.miskeeto.com

Comments

29 Nov 2007 - 8:47am
.pauric
2006

Its the 'vertical wizard' pattern.

Robert:"No need to type anything."

While I dont disagree that its not the best form in the world and
would be better suited with a traditional multi page wizard. In your
view, if someone was actually entering text in to this.. is it really
so bad? whats the fundamental interaction flaw?

For me own learning I like to understand -why- things are poor, not
just point at them and smile. So, you're insight would be of great
value.

thanks - pauric

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23078

29 Nov 2007 - 11:38am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> Its the 'vertical wizard' pattern.

Hehe!

In your
> view, if someone was actually entering text in to this.. is it really
> so bad? whats the fundamental interaction flaw?

Great question.

Basically, it completely fails to set clear expectations for users. You
arrive at the page and are immediately tricked into believing the form is
comprised of only a few radio buttons. As you choose Yes to the initial
three questions, the form grows, and as you check more checkboxes, it keeps
growing. So what appears to be a very simple form quickly turns into a major
time-sucker.

Also, it doesn't explain what kinds of information you need to have handy to
answer the questions. Odds are, you won't know policy numbers and effective
dates and such off the top of their heads, so you start filling out the form
and find yourself needing to go dig stuff out of a filing cabinet somewhere.
As you progress, you may need to make several more trips to the filing
cabinet.

Because everything is hidden by default, you have no idea what you're
getting into. It doesn't offer the slightest clue about how much work is
left to complete the process.

Anyone else have some thoughts on this?

-r-

29 Nov 2007 - 11:38am
bminihan
2007

My only problem with it is that it could make you enter the same information
(spouse and dependent names) up to three times, when it could just ask for
it once and let you select them from a list later on down the form. Also,
the insurer information fields could inherit, as well (might have the same
carrier for medical/dental/vision, tho that's not guaranteed).

I see your point tho, selecting all the radio buttons & checkboxes is a
worst-case scenario, and it could be most folks use only one part of this
form and never have to experience the full cascading form.

I like the subdued little R symbols for "required" although I wasn't sure
what they meant until I found the key at the top.

Funny, but if you click "download form" in the top right corner, you'll find
the actual form looks shorter and easier to fill out by hand...it might
actually BE easier to fill out, if it weren't for the need to fax it back in
again. Of course, they don't tell you what to do with the downloaded form
once you fill it out.

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of pauric
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2007 5:47 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Some form fun, to lighten the mood

Its the 'vertical wizard' pattern.

Robert:"No need to type anything."

While I dont disagree that its not the best form in the world and
would be better suited with a traditional multi page wizard. In your
view, if someone was actually entering text in to this.. is it really
so bad? whats the fundamental interaction flaw?

For me own learning I like to understand -why- things are poor, not
just point at them and smile. So, you're insight would be of great
value.

thanks - pauric

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23078

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29 Nov 2007 - 11:41am
Fred Beecher
2006

On Thu, 29 Nov 2007 05:47:29, pauric <radiorental at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> While I dont disagree that its not the best form in the world and
> would be better suited with a traditional multi page wizard. In your
> view, if someone was actually entering text in to this.. is it really
> so bad? whats the fundamental interaction flaw?

When I went to that link and followed Robert's instructions and more and
more fields kept popping up I, who was not even filling it out, started to
get impatient. "How much more is there to this?" I asked myself. And it kept
coming. And then a song popped into my head:

"This is the form that ne-ver ends
La la la la la la
This is the form that ne-ver ends
Etc."

And now it's stuck there. Argh.

Anyway, what's wrong with this pattern is that it is inappropriate for the
audience the form is meant to serve, senior citizens (it deals with medicare
and medicaid). Anyone who has tested with users 60+ years old will tell you
that a common trait this group has is that they read EVERYTHING on the page
before taking an action. So when you have all this junk on one page it's
going to take them forever to complete it.

Here's an example of how a designer (yes, a graphic designer!) at my
previous place of employment solved a similar problem:

*sigh*

Someone redesigned the site and really made it awful. And they removed this
interaction I wanted to show.

Anyway, the old "Medicare Physician Directory" on UHC.com was a physician
finder that asked seniors about what they were looking for one question at a
time. All that was on a page was question text, a form field, and continue
and go back buttons.

Yes, for most of us that would be very tedious, but it tested incredibly
well *with its intended audience.* The designer's original design was more
like a simple wizard (with several fields for each of just a few steps), but
observing the "comprehensive reading" behavior led him to this step-by-step
approach.

It's all about context...

- Fred

29 Nov 2007 - 11:44am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> My only problem with it is that it could make you enter the same
> information
> (spouse and dependent names) up to three times

Great point!

Funny, but if you click "download form" in the top right corner, you'll find
> the actual form looks shorter and easier to fill out by hand...

I love that part. The PDF version of the form is only 2 pages long and
doesn't look daunting at all. But somehow, the web version was designed to
make you lose hope as you go along, to get increasingly complex instead of
easier. Every time another section of the form is revealed, your heart sinks
a little more.

-r-

29 Nov 2007 - 11:55am
.pauric
2006

Robert: "Every time another section of the form is revealed, your
heart sinks a little more. "

I agree. Thats the point I was hoping to explore a little. I come
across people that both like of loathe the magical appearing form
divs. Is the 'heart sinking' the designer in us or a proper usability
issue?

I personally dislike them but havent nailed down a solid usability
argument against the design Robert highlighted.

Lets put aside the fact that with a little thought the online form
could be as succinct as the pdf. Let say the choice was a single ever
expanding page or a multistage wizard (right xor choice??? another
option?) then is a multistage wizard not conceptually the same thing -
no real end in sight except some arbitrary progress bar?

for the record I prefer to create wizards, but it would be great to
have a solid argument for them to back up my choices.

thanks for your thoughts on this folks - regards , pauric

29 Nov 2007 - 12:06pm
.pauric
2006

Pauric: "but it would be great to have a solid argument for them to
back up my choices."

Already answered in the time it took me to write that - "IxDA.. the
designer's customer support line (tm)"

Cool, so with a wizard you can set up expectations and requirements a
little better on an introductory page than is possible on a single
page form.

Its up to the designer to decide which pattern better suits the
context.

So as always.. the default IxDA customer support response: "It
depends (tm)"

thanks all!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23078

29 Nov 2007 - 12:33pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I personally dislike them but havent nailed down a solid usability
> argument against the design Robert highlighted.

I don't think it's so much a usability issue, per se. It's an experience
issue. I'm sure many people can *use* the form just fine, but the experience
of doing so is rather frustrating. It's the emotional aspect I'm concerned
about. A form shouldn't crush a person's sense of progress or
accomplishment.

then is a multistage wizard not conceptually the same thing -
> no real end in sight except some arbitrary progress bar?

Progress bars (or "progress thermometers" as they are sometimes referred)
are not arbitrary. They serve as indicators of how a process is chunked, and
set clear expectations for users. They can easily see that there are, say,
four steps and that they're on Step 2. This simple clarification makes a
world of difference.

Imagine you're an expert carpenter and you're building a treehouse. You know
you need to design it, take measurements, go buy the lumber and nails and
such, cut up the wood, and put it together. This may be a complicated
process, but you have a good idea of what you're getting into.

Now imagine you have no idea how to build a treehouse and you fumble your
way through each of these steps, asking the staff at Home Depot every time
you get stuck, every time learning that there are more and more steps, and
never knowing when the end of the process will come.

The trick is to make the user feel confident. You want to make her feel like
an expert who can get through a form with no problem. You don't want her to
feel like constantly-surprised novice carpenter.

(Weird analogy, but it was the first thing that popped in my head.)

-r-

29 Nov 2007 - 12:51pm
Michael Micheletti
2006

On Nov 29, 2007 8:38 AM, Bryan Minihan <bjminihan at nc.rr.com> wrote:

> My only problem with it is that it could make you enter the same
> information
> (spouse and dependent names) up to three times, when it could just ask for
> it once and let you select them from a list later on down the form.

Perhaps your spouse as you begin the form isn't your spouse when you're
finally finished with it? And maybe they should also ask for your address
several times, in case you move before you're done. :-)

Michael Micheletti

29 Nov 2007 - 1:14pm
.pauric
2006

I've used progress bars a lot in the past both as a designer and as a
user. I believe the only true value they bring to a design is the
illusion of speed. That things are moving along.

However I disagree that they set expectations for users. Step 3 can
still contain the War & Peace of forms - I think its false to say
users dont expect they'll get hit with something like that. So, in
the end it is an arbitrary indication of how long something is going
to take. The windows boot-up progress is an excellent example of
what you can achieve but also the shortcomings of an indication of
progress.

I do agree that cutting things in to chunks helps but... lets say
they labeled each of the steps in your original example - would that
have helped? arguably not.

Progress bars are good design practice but they're not a drop-in fix
for bad design - not that you said that!

Robert:"The trick is to make the user feel confident. You want to
make her feel like an expert who can get through a form with no
problem. You don't want her to feel like constantly-surprised"

I do not believe progress meters instill any confidence or set any
discernible expectations. Telling the user in advance what to expect
from the form//wizard is key to setting them up. When the unexpected
does happen such as a server DB errors, random docs from the filing
cabinet etc - then they are prepared and confident its not their
fault. You just dont get that with progress bars alone.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23078

29 Nov 2007 - 11:55am
.pauric
2006

Robert: "Every time another section of the form is revealed, your
heart sinks a little more. "

I agree. Thats the point I was hoping to explore a little. I come
across people that both like of loathe the magical appearing form
divs. Is the 'heart sinking' the designer in us or a proper usability
issue?

I personally dislike them but havent nailed down a solid usability
argument against the design Robert highlighted.

Lets put aside the fact that with a little thought the online form
could be as succinct as the pdf. Let say the choice was a single ever
expanding page or a multistage wizard (right xor choice??? another
option?) then is a multistage wizard not conceptually the same thing -
no real end in sight except some arbitrary progress bar?

for the record I prefer to create wizards, but it would be great to
have a solid argument for them to back up my choices.

thanks for your thoughts on this folks - regards , pauric

29 Nov 2007 - 9:20am
Cédric Magnin
2007

My point of view is that this kind of form is the typical one that needs to
be made in steps, 3 by the way.

The first page is ok. If the user clicks "yes" in a category, the validation
button brings him to the step needed to gather the information of the
category where he clicked "yes".

Sorry for my english, I hope you understand the point. And sorry for the
noise.

--
Cedric Magnin

29 Nov 2007 - 11:48am
Erin Walsh
2007

My issue with the form is its misrepresentation to the user. At
first glance you decide or estimate the time investment to complete
the screen. Slight modifications or an increase is expected, so I
would not be too put off by a few extra fields to fill out. What is
unacceptable in my eyes, is the length and lack of feedback. It
seemed an unending process, similar to the form version of matryoshka
dolls.

On Nov 29, 2007, at 5:47 AM, pauric wrote:
...
For me own learning I like to understand -why- things are poor, not
just point at them and smile. So, you're insight would be of great
value.

thanks - pauric

29 Nov 2007 - 1:25pm
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

So, can this thread be used to illustrate an example of what is NOT User
Centered Design, a topic being discussed in another thread?

Which brings up an interesting design issue. Is there any tool that allows
discussion threads to flow like rivers, connecting at times, and then
flowing off in different directions if the contact is only temporary? Yeah,
I know this can be done manually and mentally, but is front end, or an
applet that can be, say, embedded in Gmail as well as other mail clients,
which allows you to drag two threads together and connect them visually, so
that anyone who wishes can travel back up both tributaries if they wish?
[Now, chances are, with such busy threads and such busy people, nobody
really has the time or desire to go back up a thread, but there might be
some context in which this sort of structural feature is useful.]

-murli

29 Nov 2007 - 1:00pm
Patricia Garcia
2007

A lot of great responses regarding how to make this interface better.
I agree with making it multi-step via wizard.

Honestly, I was so focused on the "disappearing" check boxes that I
didn't even read the div that appeared below the checked box. I
wanted to first figure out what happened to my check boxes.

If I was doing the talk-aloud test here is what it would sound like:

(mumble, mumble - reading to self first set of instructions.)

"Okay, Yes."

(Selecting Yes)

(mumble, mumble, Medical, Dental, Vision)

"All three, so let me click them."

(Checking Medical)

"Hey! Where did the rest of them go!"

(Unchecking Medical)

"Oh, there they are, let me click Dental."

(Checking Dental)

"Dammit! Now Vision is gone! Alright, let me uncheck it."

(Unchecking Dental)

"Alright, starting from the bottom, now, check vision, dental, and
now medial. HAHA! Got them before they disappeared!"

(reading next section)

"Oh, that's why it was gone, it moved down. Well, I don't even
want to finish this form anymore."

(runs off pouting)

Okay, so I'm not the typical user ever since I entered into the UX
realm. But still, I feel so violated.

(I don't post much but I read these posts daily.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23078

29 Nov 2007 - 4:12pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> "Oh, that's why it was gone, it moved down. Well, I don't even
> want to finish this form anymore."

Beautiful simulation!

-r-

29 Nov 2007 - 4:15pm
.pauric
2006

Murli: "Is there any tool that allows discussion threads to flow like
rivers, connecting at times, and then flowing off in different
directions"

Not exactly related to discussion threads but your question reminded
me of the interaction on http://www.liveplasma.com/

Enter in an artist and then you can follow the connection around.
Each time you click on a new datapoint, the context changes.

Using that as a visual model for your design issue. The datapoints
are posts, I can then copy-past a section of a post and create a
response. This forms a link.

Links could also be represented by common tags.

The solution would require a new and complex type of recommendation
engine as a large 'thread' would become static noise very quickly
as I think you allude too: "busy threads and such busy people,
nobody really has the time or desire to go back up a thread"

Nor would they see new posts in a multithreading conversation...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23078

29 Nov 2007 - 5:00pm
Eric Gauvin
2007

Yes. The disappearing checkboxes are the weirdest part of this.

It's also a great example of how confusing the colored sections are.
At first I thought brown meant conditional questions, but I guess
it's really alternating row colors.

Eric

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23078

29 Nov 2007 - 7:03pm
White, Jeff
2007

Awesome. I was laughing on that one. You know you've got problems on
your hands when your test participants resort to profanity.

On Thu, 29 Nov 2007 10:00:33, Patricia Garcia <pgarcia413 at earthlink.net> wrote:
> A lot of great responses regarding how to make this interface better.
> I agree with making it multi-step via wizard.
>
> Honestly, I was so focused on the "disappearing" check boxes that I
> didn't even read the div that appeared below the checked box. I
> wanted to first figure out what happened to my check boxes.
>
> If I was doing the talk-aloud test here is what it would sound like:
>
> (mumble, mumble - reading to self first set of instructions.)
>
> "Okay, Yes."
>
> (Selecting Yes)
>
> (mumble, mumble, Medical, Dental, Vision)
>
> "All three, so let me click them."
>
> (Checking Medical)
>
> "Hey! Where did the rest of them go!"
>
> (Unchecking Medical)
>
> "Oh, there they are, let me click Dental."
>
> (Checking Dental)
>
> "Dammit! Now Vision is gone! Alright, let me uncheck it."
>
> (Unchecking Dental)
>
> "Alright, starting from the bottom, now, check vision, dental, and
> now medial. HAHA! Got them before they disappeared!"
>
> (reading next section)
>
> "Oh, that's why it was gone, it moved down. Well, I don't even
> want to finish this form anymore."
>
> (runs off pouting)
>
> Okay, so I'm not the typical user ever since I entered into the UX
> realm. But still, I feel so violated.
>
> (I don't post much but I read these posts daily.)
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23078
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

30 Nov 2007 - 3:22pm
martinpolley
2007

That was exactly my reaction!

Putting aside all the other problem that this form has, this particular
issue could be solved by animating the way that the div materializes. That
way it would be obvious that something is appearing rather than something
disappearing.

Best,
--
Martin Polley
Technical Communicator
+972 52 3864280
<http://capcloud.com/>

On Thu, 29 Nov 2007 10:00:33, Patricia Garcia <pgarcia413 at earthlink.net>
wrote:

> Honestly, I was so focused on the "disappearing" check boxes that I
> didn't even read the div that appeared below the checked box. I
> wanted to first figure out what happened to my check boxes.
>

1 Dec 2007 - 3:36am
stauciuc
2006

It is an arbitrary indication, but to some extent at least I think it does
set expectations. We tend to judge and evaluate based on past experience, so
if going through Step2 of a form takes us 3 seconds, I think we will assume
that Step3 won't take more than 10-20 seconds. If Step takes 3 minutes, we
will probably assume Step3 may take more than 1 minute.

Sebi

On Thu, 29 Nov 2007 10:14:41, pauric <radiorental at gmail.com> wrote:

> I've used progress bars a lot in the past both as a designer and as a
> user. I believe the only true value they bring to a design is the
> illusion of speed. That things are moving along.
>
> However I disagree that they set expectations for users. Step 3 can
> still contain the War & Peace of forms - I think its false to say
> users dont expect they'll get hit with something like that. So, in
> the end it is an arbitrary indication of how long something is going
> to take.
>

--
Sergiu Sebastian Tauciuc
http://www.sergiutauciuc.ro/en/

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