I Want My Milliseconds! Make Your Online Forms More User-Friendly
More often that not these days, when I am completing an online form with my mailing or contact information, the "Country" drop-down menu seems to think I live in Cambodia. It's the first country that pre-populates the field when I type in "C" and the next country on the list after Burundi.
In this case, simple alphabetical listings decrease usability.
Fortunately, there are several ways to increase the usability of online forms: (Confidential to marketers: this may seem a little geeky, but your friends in web development will be impressed when you come armed with practical solutions and not just hand-wringing and shouting "make it better". Trust me.)
(1) Sophisticated sites know their customer base and they will pre-sort their dropdown menus to include, for example, the USA and Canada, at the top of the list. Really easy to do. Below is an example from the Globe and Mail - they know their customers!
(2) IP Location software can pre-populate forms for customers who have basic, visible data points. Take the simple example of a user login from Canada. Certain dropdown information such as country of origin, postal code, IP and domain name can be identified and pre-loaded in to the fields using tools such as IP2Location.
For more info on AJAX and how it can save your customer time, check out this video from MarketingProfs on Simplifying AJAX for Marketers. It's an American example, but you get the idea.
So by making some tweaks to your online forms, milliseconds of time are saved for the customer. I need my milliseconds and so do your customers!
What are your pet peeves about online forms? Share them here!