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Subject:
From:
Paola Kathuria <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Paola Kathuria <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Tue, 18 May 2004 10:55:14 +0100
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I'm replying to the list, rather than to Debbie only, as I'm
interested to see a discussion on the issues raised.

Debbie Huntington wrote:
> Our web development team has spent the past 6 months designing a
> dynamic web-based job application [...]
> The printed version
> is comprehensive and fills two sides of a legal sheet of paper.
[...]
> we've designed an interface that has 10-13 individual windows
 > from start to finish

If I understand this correctly, a two-sided application form
has been turned into a 13-screen web-based application form.

Besides non-bus operator applicants needing to fill in less
information, do applicants otherwise have to complete the
whole form?

If so, why has the form been split up over multiple web pages?

One of the main reasons for splitting a form is so that the
form can be generated on the fly as answers are processed.

> We are unable to provide the applicant
> with the option to create a personal account to save the application

This is a concern.

> 2. Provide a simple web-form with all fields on one "very-long" page
> that will scroll-on for 15-20 screen views.

You don't know yet that it will be up to 20 screen views as it
hasn't been designed yet. You would design the form differently
if you knew it was going to appear on one page - page elements
such as form progress indicators and repeating site navigation
wouldn't be present.

> Evidently, multiple-page linking
> while providing a task based progress list, to this stakeholder seems
> complicated (not simple or easy).

I'd agree inasmuch as I'd say that a 13-step form would be
seen as more effort by users than one long scrolling form.

For a long time, I've believed that one of the factors that
contribute to an interface been seen as requiring more effort
is the number of screen changes.

For example, if error messages are displayed in a separate
page or in a pop-up dialog box, I'd predict that users would
rate the application as more complicated than one where error
messages are displayed on a repopulated form.

The more persistent elements there are in an the interface,
I think that the easier a user thinks it is.  If there are
lots of screen changes, pop-ups or things changing they have
to attend to, I think that users would go away thinking
they'd been made to work quite hard.

> Interface design team opinion
> Our design team is made up of usability/content producer and visual
> design expertise. The team's opinion is that we'd be going back 5 years
> in web technology to deliver the basic one-page scrolling web form as
> our online job application.

Although there have been some improvements in web design over
the years, there is also an inevitable compulsion in all
industries towards design and innovation for the sake of it.
Sometimes designers and developers put themselves first,
wanting to show off, forgetting what's best for the users.
I'm not saying that this is what has happened to your team
but it's something to consider.

A single-page form may have been around years but is there
actually anything wrong with it that splitting it up
significantly fixes?

> 1. An online job application that's perceived as "innovative" compared
> to other transit agencies in the US
> 2. An online job application that is simple to understand and easy to
> use

Which is more important in your project?  Is it being seen to
be innovative or providing something that is simple to
understand and easy to use?


Paola

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