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Have you been bullied by forms?

Today I want to talk about a disappointed personal experience of filling in a form and how this experience had shown me the importance of UX.

We have all been bullied by form at least once in our lives. For those who disagree, don't you recall a time you tried to fill a form that was so badly designed that you would rather pay someone to fill it for you? Why is that happening?

You know that time when you asked Jenny from procurement to get you a new mouse because your mouse was not functioning properly and she asked you to fill in a form and you went "Jenny, I just want a decent mouse, do we have to do that? Oh, really? That's cool no problem, I will just get my own one."

Have you ever wondered why are forms so badly designed?

There are two main reasons that I can think of:

A) The people who designed the form just simply don't care about their users.

B) The people who designed the form lacked the ability to put themselves into the user's shoe.

It is usually the combination of A) & B) that makes a form impossible to fill.

Some forms are so badly designed that they actually evoke a negative emotion to their users. For example, when I was filling the UK's student VISA application form nine years ago, I literally thought the form was some kind of tactics to reduce the number of overseas applications. By setting a language barrier for me or other foreign students, some part of the applicants might give up through the application process and those people working for the UK Boarder Agency can reduce their workload.

The words on the form were so difficult to understand for non-native English speakers and even my cousin who was fluent at English went "Man, these words are so confusing...I have no idea what they meant and what kind of information they want from you…" Imagine how I felt, it was suppose to be an exciting experience, to study aboard and see what other part of the world look like; to learn and understand a different culture. "Why are they doing this to me?" I asked myself. By the way, the form was thirteen pages long.

I can no longer remember what the words were on the UK student VISA application form, but the negative feeling still remains after nine years. The bad user experience at that time had certainly gone a long, long way.

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