Friday, October 8, 2010

The Cleardocs “Form” factor

Thomas Lam, IT Manager

Apart from overall better quality of our legal documents, Cleardocs’s online ordering form is another “form factor” that distinguishes Cleardocs from its peer.

With our forms you can…

View and answer questions all in one page  Multi-pages forms in general provide less satisfactory user experiences, and the reasons are quite obvious too. Users need to jump through (sometimes back and forth as well) pages to check their answers, etc. Time is wasted between closing and opening pages.

To save user’s time, we put all questions of any form into just one page. This is fine for smaller forms such as Division 7a Loan Agreement and Company Name Reservation. However, larger forms like our Company Registration form (which has over 280 questions) would be too big for users to download and work with. To make these larger forms more usable, we:

  1. hide irrelevant questions  For example, we show 37 questions instead of over 280 questions in a blank Company Registration form;
  2. load relevant question blocks on demand  This reduces average form download size by up to two third of its original size;
  3. load help text on demand  This further reduces average form download size of form by another 6 percent. Replacing paragraphs of help text with help buttons also reduces cluttering of our forms.
  4. section bookmark buttons for quick navigation within the form  Users can go to any section by clicking any section bookmark buttons. These buttons are located before and after each section in our forms.

Do less typing with auto-fill and click & paste features  Duplicate data entries is not only annoying and tedious, it is also more error prone.

To save user’s time and improve data correctness, our forms have “smart” dropdowns and lists that are auto-filled when users answer relevant questions. For example, when user enters a director’s name in our Company Registration form, this name will automatically appear in a number of related dropdowns, such as the one under the “Who will chair the meeting?” question.

Recently we have also added “address picker” buttons next to address questions in our forms. These buttons allow users to click & paste an already entered address into another address question.

Fix errors quickly Apart from friendly and informative validation messages, we also added address preview boxes to our ASIC related products which helps people to identify address problems.

Recently we have reworked our ASIC validation message dialog to link errors directly to related questions on the Company Registration form.

What’s next

We’ve planned a series of form improvements after our site’s new look released on 6 Oct. So stay tune for more details.

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