If you’re conducting a survey, a research project or even an internal audit, there will inevitably come a time when you’ll have to compose an online form. The success of these can vary greatly, so if the task is going to be worth your while, it’s important for you to ensure that your online forms are as suitable and accurate as possible. Here’s how you can strive to make your online forms an unmitigated success.
Clarity and legibility
In order to get the most apposite responses from your sample, you need to insure that your forms communicate their aims and ambitions as clearly as possible. Consistency is important; not only will it make your life harder having to manage multiple systems, but users will appreciate the ease of use engendered by the regularity of consistently laid-out forms and documents. The web is a very fast-paced medium; the attention spans of web users are very short, so it’s important that you get their attention quickly and don’t alienate them straight away. Your forms need to be bold and simple – ensure that they’re eye-catching and attractively laid out by being as succinct as possible; big blocks of impenetrable text are more likely than not to make them run a mile.
Of course, the communicability of your web-based forms affects more than just the way in which your sample responds. If your questions aren’t clear enough, you may run the risk of receiving responses that run counter to the results you wish to achieve. You need to think very carefully about the way in which you phrase your questions and queries in an online form; think about what you’re trying to determine and then ask yourself what the best way to encourage those responses could be. Only include those queries that are directly applicable to your study: are there questions you should leave out? Are there some additional terms you should have included?
These days, people are more concerned with the security and privacy of their data than ever before, particularly online. Not only should you seek to employ the best online safety protocols for your web-based forms, but you should also make it clear to your users that you’ve done so. Emphasise the security and anonymity of your study to those undertaking it and you’re far more likely to receive genuine, honest responses than you would be otherwise.
Are your forms going to be used exclusively online, or will you be printing them out to use as paper data capture methods too? If the latter is true, you need to think about how your forms are laid out online. Be sure to format them in a way that allows them to be translated to a paper version without too much fuss. Remember that your web-based information will need to communicate just as effectively in print, too, so account for this when you’re designing your online forms right from the start.
Hopefully, this guide should have given you enough information to start producing your own effective online forms, but if you still feel as though you lack the expertise, you can always use our online data capture service to help produce top-quality web forms for your company. Contact us for more information on how you can produce effective and successful web forms for your study, audit or research project.