Examples of decent web forms?
November 18, 2004 7:36 AM   Subscribe

I need to design a web-based complaints form for a government agency, and want it as user-friendly as possible. I'm considering a series of questions, with yes/ no buttons, which will lead the user easily through what is actually a massively complex flow-chart of options. Anyone got any links to web sites that achieve this type of thing well?
posted by Pericles to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
A site like Kelly's Blue Book Values (sorry, no url) does this kind of thing well as it takes you through the kind of car you have (all the various options). I think any car buying site does the same thing. Good luck.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:41 AM on November 18, 2004

Go check out progressive's insurance calculator. It does this kind of thing *very* well with a minimum of sketchy javascript. Unlike many government web forms (and I've had my fill of them in the past few weeks...) they also provide excellent popup help.
posted by SpecialK at 10:53 AM on November 18, 2004

This doesn't directly answer your question (and odds are good you already know this), but I recently designed a site where accessibility was a major consideration and I found Cynthia Says to be a huge help. It tests your site against section 508 recommendations.
posted by Kimberly at 1:31 PM on November 18, 2004

I think you may want to look at so-called Inductive User Interfaces. Paraphrasing from the link, inductive user interfaces lead the user rather than requiring the user to look at an interface and deduce it's behavior (a deductive user interface, natch). This trend has given us the interview and "wizard" sorts of interfaces that are more common now, although as the linked site also mentions, "The overall concept of IUI is in its infancy." It's not brand-spanking-new, but it hasn't been around as long as other methods and there's more to be learned about its best practices.

In my experience, the US government worries more about money than usability (at least, aside from an easily-quantifiable metric like Section 508 compliance, which will be important of course). Hope your experience is different.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 3:43 PM on November 18, 2004

A good UI isn't one that's TOO simple. For example, asking a user one question, then going to the next screen to ask a second question, then to another screen to ask the third question, isn't a good idea: it can be slow, and every new screen will cost the user a certain amount of time to adjust.

(I'm reminded of web shopping sites where checking out, after selecting items, takes five or six screens ... not fun.)
posted by WestCoaster at 12:45 PM on November 19, 2004

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