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Design of data INPUT

Design of data INPUT

Do you know of anyone who has done seminal work on making forms (questionairres, surveys etc) attractive to encourage people to fill them in, spend time on them, concentrate of inputting without error, even make the process enjoyable. i am particular concerned with the field of getting psychometric type input in an HR setting.

Surely there is a better padigm that radio buttons and HTML drop downs?

Surely use of colour, background, buttons, dials etc etc can affect the efficienecy, accuracy of the input process?


Bruce Pullman

-- bruce pullman (email)

Response to graphic design in data INPUT

Some of the best work on data input has been done by Patricia Wright (of the Applied Psychology Unit, Medical Research Council, Cambridge UK, now at Cardiff) and by Jeremy Wyatt http://www.ihs.ox.ac.uk/csm/jwpub.html .

Here are some of my opinions:

Think hard about how to minimize the amount of information you elicit; users are more likely to abandon a long, snoopy, instrusive set of questions. For example, don't turn your questionnaire into a gratuitous set of probes for market research on your innocent respondents.

Think hard about protecting the integrity and privacy of the information you elicit; why should the user trust you at all?

How are you going to minimize entry errors? Discover the types of entry errors that are made, and then redesign to fix them. Regard entry errors as your fault (even if they aren't) and design to fix them.

For a good model of transactions-based questions, order a book from amazon.com and watch how they navigate you through a quite long series of steps.

On design, find something that works and is already successful--and see what they do. No need to get it original, just get it right. Surely, in practice at least, this is a solved problem. Find a good proven solution and use it.

The instructions, questions, and user responses are the important matters here; minimize everything else, especially heavy-handed design structure (arrows, frames, boxes, highlighting). For example, very light but clear boxes or fields for data entry.

Avoid an over-produced, designed, slick look; the questionnaire form is a workaday straight-forward document. Your design model should be exactly that: a workaday, straight-forward document.

Allow for review, checking, and confirmation of answers by users before they commit (although this is probably a more complicated matter than a simple rule can handle).

Error messages to the user should not be rude, abrupt, or perpetuate the confusion. That is, they should probably not be written by computer programmers.

See Envisioning Information, chapter 3 on layering and separation, particularly the material on de-gridding. Also in the Ask E.T. section here, see, of course, the discussion of the butterfly ballot in Florida in November 2000.

-- Edward Tufte

I founds this article very interesting. http://www.uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000107.php

Also, I am an Interaction Designer and am currently designing forms with your principles in mind. For that intent I was thinking of putting labels on top of fields and leaving absolutely no space between the labels and their respective fields. My thinking is that they need to be perceived as one object. Putting 5 or 6 pixels between a label and a field makes me see two obects instead of one.

Should I be worried about impacting readability of the label? To me they are readable but to the Graphic Design department where I work, this is wrong because they want to put space everywhere between every object even when 2 objects need to be seen as one. As you put it 1 + 1 can equal 3.

What are your opinions on this?

Thank you.

Pierre Roberge

-- Pierre Roberge (email)


can you post or provide a copy of the form, or the part of it you're concerned about, as an image, pdf, or html?

-- Niels Olson (email)

Here is the link to see the two versions. http://pierre.roberge.googlepages.com/whichisbetter To me having labels be 5 pixels from the fields makes clutter of everything unles considerable amount of vertical space is also added between rows of fields. Any comment is appreciated! Thanks

-- Pierre Roberge (email)

Here is Peirre's image (requested and cited above). While I can appreciate the subtle color and the perfect rectangle, my opinion is that without leading (the upper example) the bottom of the wordform is obscured and the descenders make the positioning even amateurish. Function over form. In either case, there is little doubt about which boxes the labels are referring to, so abusing your type for an artificial boxicality strikes me as a poor trade. One to three points of leading is usual and expected.

Google and Reddit both favor Matteo Penzo's UXmatters article Label Placement in Forms from 12 July 2006. I would also remove the @ in the email label. The address field itself is ambiguous: what do I put in there? The user is left to muddle through this nonstandard form, "I'll put my whole address . . . arrgh! No! I have to go back and delete the last line and fill in these other boxes . . . grrrr.". The address form has been quite thoroughly thought out on millions of e-business sites. I recommend Amazon for a good model.

-- Niels Olson (email)

Threads relevant to analytic design:

Seeing Around: New ET essay published