Does's form design work?

I often refer to web forms as where the rubber hits the road, in terms of website ‘conversion’ and user acquisition.

There are of course plenty of other ways that users can be acquired through a website and plenty of other ways that conversion can be measured, though users filling in forms is usually the largest and most important focus.

Commensurately, form design and understanding how users interact with forms is generally an ongoing effort and focus of good website optimisation, web design and form design.

The more people that fill in a form, the better (as measured as the conversion (or completion) rate of the form and website).

There are plenty of factors that need to be taken into account when designing forms and the web pages they sit on. Some of the key factors (though by no means a conclusive list) include:

  • Reducing user anxiety as a consequence of completing the form: e.g. that they will not be SPAMMED, that the user can return the garment if it doesn’t fit etc.
  • Considering questions users might have around the form, process or website generally and answering them at the form (e.g. privacy statements) without requiring the user to leave the form to find answers; this includes reaffirming to users that if they are qualifying for an offer or a campaign, they are getting it.
  • Reducing form length and complexity: ensuring that users can happily complete forms without undue fields; where contentious information (such as a DOB) is required of a user, explaining clearly to a user why the information is required.
  • Ensuring that the user can quickly gauge the size of the form (or forms) to be completed and can see the end-goal.
  • Ensuring that users can scan a form and quickly assess the information you require of them.
  • Being clear and upfront around mandatory information and information that will be validated; if a password needs symbols (and seriously, does it really need symbols), tell users up-front.


Essentially, it is all about building trust in the user, reducing as much friction as possible in completing the form and helping them on their journey.


Are forms prototypical?

Forms can certainly daunt users and we have all been to a solid government or insurance website, to be overwhelmed by a stack of little form fields – all the same size – running down the page.

On the flipside, if there is an upside of such heavy forms (and most forms generally speaking), it is that they can be completed by most users without too much difficulty; we all know what radio buttons and check-boxes are and we all know how to complete forms, whether reluctantly or not.

There is growing discussion around the concept of ‘prototypical’ websites, where the argument goes that in certain categories or verticals of websites (e.g. eCommerce websites, car booking websites), users have a strong expectation of what to expect (e.g. a cart symbol in the header of an eCommerce website).

The argument then goes that a web designer is very brave to design against the trend of websites in a certain category because – and in no certain order:

  • It potentially confuses the user.
  • It stops the user in their tracks (and a golden rule of usability is not to stop users and make them think).
  • It requires the user to try and work out what is going on (where instead, we want them shopping or doing whatever it is we want them doing).
  • They leave, unsure of what is going on.


The last point might surprise you (especially if you are a strong web user) because most of us (if we are strong web users) would like to think we can work out pretty quickly new concepts and ways of tackling usability, functionality and content challenges.

My absolutely consistent experience in running user groups and talking to colleagues however, is that almost exclusively, users do not try to work out new things and shy away from them frustrated and confused.

Which brings me to the point or question of my blog, does the quote form on the current website work given that it breaks all conventions of form design?

Form are definitely prototypical, though does the possible upside of the form design on the website outweigh the negatives generally encountered when designing against the norm?

If we already struggle to lubricate users through standard forms – albeit forms they can at least functionally complete – should we really be removing the only functional thing users can rely on in form design and presenting them with a brand new, never before seen usability challenge?

Does's form design work?

Given we know the downside of designing against the norm, what are the possible upsides of the approach in the form:

  • The form is very nicely embedded as part of a story. And it is a nice story.
  • Whilst it might not be immediately clear that the form fields are form fields, it would hopefully become pretty clear, pretty quickly that the story was about the user and that the user had to edit the story to make it theirs. The blue shading presumably what can be edited by the user.
  • Very touch friendly – and mobile will be half the websites traffic (based on what my insurance clients are experiencing), and half of that traffic, tablet.
  • It visually reflects well on as being a simple and contemporary brand.
  • The form separates from their competitors and as I completed it, I felt that I had a closer relationship with the brand – the form gave me a positive feeling.
  • The call outs for support are strong and neat.


If there are downsides to the form design on, over-and-above the usual downsides of designing against the prototypical grain, three jump to mind: 

  1. The form is not obviously accessible. I could not tab between fields, which is an issue for people who need such accessibility.
  2. The potentially slows form interaction because users cannot quickly tab between fields and must click and interact with each form field; this could frustrate power-users. Indeed, the ‘quote’ button is hidden until every form field is clicked which confused me because whilst one of the default answers of the form was correct to me, it was not clear to me that I had to quick it nonetheless and confirm my answer. Indeed, a friend pointed out that she expected that having completed answer one, she would be prompted to complete answer two though wasn't.
  3. There is no contextual form information and no instructions; under the ‘we want’ field, I personally though that I could have answered yes to multiple questions – ‘I want more kids’ and ‘I want to save tax’, as an example. Appreciating that there is no personally identifiable information being collected by the form, there are also no trust symbols or messages on the page, something users often talk about in user testing.


I am always suspicious of frigging with form design. Even multi-column forms that we see on the likes of sites such as Styletread can cause users angst and problems.

 The answer to my question about whether’s forms work or not can only be answered through testing.

For all my conservatism – and don’t get me started on whether people scroll down web pages – as web designers, we need to challenge every assumption and experiment. Whilst I have seen users trash-talk innovations such as Wotif’s International Flight Booking tool (which I think is awesome (seriously, try it by booking a flight from Sydney to London), we need to keep experimenting and pushing forward.

Those who get it right, famously reap the rewards.

I genuinely hope it works for Good work!