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In situations where web forms span multiple pages, dynamic inline solutions give us an opportunity to pull that all into a single page and dynamically expand and collapse each section. Let's see this in action. The Apple Store's checkout Form looks pretty typical for an e-commerce situation. Upfront we're asked if you're a returning customer or new? Next page asked us who you are and for your Billing Information, in this case, Address. Then we move on to where you want to ship things, how you want to pay for them and ultimately review all the decisions you've made on the next page In aggregate, Apple's Checkout flow looks like this 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 screens.
When I did a recent redesign however, the Apple store pulled all this information into a single form, that's right, one dynamic solution that covers everything we just saw in five pages. Let's see it in action The first section on the form is the Shipping Information. Here we specify where we're asking our order to be shipped and how we would like to see it shipped. Once completed, we click Continue and this section rolls up. You'll see there is a little bit of a snapshot about the data we filled in at the top. Now we're on to the next section Payment Information. We're specifying how we're going to pay and clicking Continue, you note there is an error, so we fix it, and once again this section rolls up exposing the next section, Account Information.
This is the basic model of a Dynamic Inline Form. Each section is exposed one at a time and once filled, rolls up to reflect the information we've entered and the next section comes out. Once everything is filled in, we can then place our order. In order to see how effective this model is in comparison to Apple's previous design, we did a bit of testing Once again, we did some standard usability and eye tracking measures. We asked 24 participants to take a look at a number of variations of the same e-commerce checkout flow, very similar to what we saw in Apple's site First we asked for Shipping Information, then Payment Info, and finally we asked people to Review what they had put it.
One version did this across multiple webpages, the next version put all the same input fields on a single form, then we tested two Dynamic Inline form variations The first version requires people to actually interact with Section headers to expose the next set of input fields. So, once you filled in Shipping Info, you'd click on Payment Info to expose the next set of input fields. This next version we tested actually put the primary actions inside each section. So here, once completing Shipping Info, you click Continue, the Payment Info would expose, and a primary action would be within that section as well When we put all of these variations to the test, we learned a few things.
First, we didn't really see conversion rates go up or down with any version, that is, the Dynamic Inline Forms didn't make things worse, but they didn't make things much better either. It is an interesting finding in of itself, because usually when we introduce a new interaction design there tend to be usability problems, it's new to people, they haven't seen it before, and as a result they stumble as they figure it out. Not so with Dynamic Inline Forms, people were able to just jump right in and get going. Another interesting finding we saw was that Dynamic Inline Forms were actually faster to complete.
That is when people use the option C and D they completed the form much quicker. This isn't really that important in many cases, but if you're dealing with time sensitive information, such as auctions or limited time quantities, the benefits of a Dynamic Inline Form can go a long way. One area where we did see people struggle however was of the Section headers, in options C few people thought they needed to interact with the header of a section in order to expose the next set of input fields; instead, they faired much better with option D, where the primary action was within a section There they could fill the information they had, click the Continue button and then see the next section pop up with its own action to continue.
You can see this in the Club Nintendo form here. As I fill in my Date of Birth and click Continue, the information I just entered is reflected back to me, the next section shows up, and the next section has its own set of continue actions. Once I fill in an E-Mail Address and then onto Username and Password, and again, there is a series of actions right there in there. Some of the things Club Nintendo isn't doing so well however, is limiting each an each sections to in some cases just the single input field. Their actions also looked disabled, gray text on a gray button doesn't necessarily say click me.
Let's wrap up Dynamic Inline Forms. These forms aren't likely to impact conversion either up or down. This is good, because we have a new design tool at our disposal, but it's a little bit bad as well, because this is not going to necessarily get us more conversion. Increased speed however is the benefit we can get from a Dynamic Inline Forms, and in situations where this matters, like online auctions or time sensitive material, that added boost can go a long way Beware though, section headers don't really act like form elements, even when we try to make them look like links or like buttons, people didn't know they needed to interact with the Section header to expose the next set of input fields.
And last but not least, Action buttons embedded within each section tend to do a lot better than having them apply to the entire form, as we saw in our testing earlier.
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