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Mon, 5 Nov 2007 09:35:41 -0800
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http://www.nngroup.com/reports/ecommerce/checkout.html
This report is based on user studies (I am a co-author). It provides 
design guidelines for forms, information and chunking the process.

Our recommendation is to make registration optional, but to offer it 
at the _end_ of the checkout process, so that people can simply 
create a password and be done (all their other info has just been 
entered while purchasing). It should be pitched as a convenience to 
the customer for ease of shopping next time. At that point, people 
can evaluate the benefit exactly, in terms of how much time it might 
save re-entering their details.

When registration is placed first in the checkout process for a 
first-time buyer, it discourages people by asking for personal 
information without showing the benefit first. Also if anyone fails 
to register correctly or refuses to enter the required data, they are 
unable to purchase. Registration-first makes people quite annoyed, as 
does anything that seems like an impediment to finishing a task the 
user is trying to accomplish. It is important to ask for as little 
information as you possibly can, to reduce the chance of errors and 
to encourage the person to give you the info.

Godiva provides a fairly good model of checkout with optional 
registration these days, although they could improve it by showing 
the receipt at the end (so could Amazon). LLBean  has a very good 
process. LLBean also encourages people to log in or register if they 
would like to save the contents of their cart to purchase later.

The report also provides data and user quotes to support these 
conclusions, many examples of good and bad form design, and how 
design and checkout structure support purchasing or cause people to 
abandon the process.

Susan Farrell

Nick Gassman asked:
>I'd be interested to hear of experience and research in the design of
>registration forms - and in particular, registration during the
>checkout process. Many companies do this.
>

>- what are the main factors that will influence a customer's decision
>as to whether or not to register, or continue without registering, or
>abandon the purchase
>

>Can anyone point me in the direction of online resources or books
>specifically on the subject of registration form design. I would also
>be interested to know if there is information available that we could
>purchase.

-- 
Nielsen Norman Group | Susan Farrell | User Experience Specialist | 
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