Why the long form? 22nd June 2010

I haven't Googled this but I would not be surprised if there's a Professor in Scandinavia somewhere who's discovered a new law stating that conversion is inversely proportional to the complexity and length of a web form. Conversion in this case would be defined as sending a qualified enquiry to the owner of the site. The formula, or at least the principle of it, might seem obvious to most people reading this, and yet the last time I went on a very well known comparison site I noted a distinct absence of this law in action. Many of the car insurance questions seemed to have little relevance to car related risk. This could after not too long result in the "Confused" client visiting another site to "Go Compare" there.

Taking the short form to its extreme - a button with a pair of radio buttons - would - all other things being equal convert the greatest number of visitors. Something like an opinion poll might be a good example of this.

At the other end of the scale after a certain number of eye-watering questions everyone has given up. The point that this happens; let's call it the Derailment Point, will vary greatly depending on the potential reward at the end, or in the case of online tax filing for example, the punishment if you don't click Submit.

To gain enough information to provide a reasonably accurate life insurance or critical illness quote there is a risk of derailment due to form fatigue.

We've considered the psychology of this carefully and have taken steps with our forms to ensure that first of all, users are provided with a reward in the form of an actual online quote rather than the disappointing thank you page followed by a perhaps premature call from the sales team.

The second technique we've applied is to keep the initial page of the form very short to encourage people into the main questionnaire. The benefit of this is that it breaks the process into smaller parts to maintain interest and reset the derailment point (this is not an official terms by the way).

To add to that the use of tabs at the top of the page is a visual cue that firstly, you will get a quote, and secondly that the whole process is only four short stages.

If you wish to comment on the above or discuss please use the contact us page of our website,