Asking users for only the most important information

When your business first begins using mobile form software, it's hard to hide your excitement. You probably want to run wild with it, using tablet and smartphone forms to collect as many tidbits of information as possible from your customers. So you flesh out your forms and you make them extensive, flashy and jam-packed with questions that will discover countless key insights.

Except there's one problem - longer might not be better. Quite the opposite, in fact - with each question you add on, you're increasing the likelihood that people get bored and walk away. That's why it's important to focus on getting only the information that's most meaningful. Everything else may only serve to distract you from your primary goals.

Exploring the numbers
You might think that with a mobile form, you should be eager to ask people for as much information as possible, but there's actually significant evidence that that's not the best strategy, according to Sundog Interactive. Experience architect Laura Schjeldahl explains that a more minimalist approach works better.

"Only ask for needed information that you will use," Schjeldahl advised. "For every extra field you add, required or not, you are losing visitors."

She had plenty of numbers to back up this claim. A study from Marketing Tech Blog recently revealed a very clear statistical trend - there's a correlation between asking fewer questions and getting more conversions. Compared to a control group - a form with 15 fields in it - the news source found that asking only 11 questions is 120 percent more effective, and only 4 questions is 160 percent better. Often in mobile form design, less really is more.

What you can do
So what does this all mean? How, specifically, can you apply all these lessons and make your own mobile forms better for the everyday user? Schjeldahl suggests looking at the forms you already have and looking to make key improvements.

"Review existing forms and remove whatever you can," she suggested. "If the data collected is not currently being used, remove it. Don't get caught up in the 'We may need this information in the future' nonsense. This is the digital world, it can be changed."

This is good advice. People in the mobile era are looking for the utmost speed and convenience, and short mobile forms are a prime example of that. The best user experience in today's era is one that goes swiftly to the point, never wasting a minute.

Cal Brown