A few months ago, I stumbled upon a post that discussed how some A/B testing of narrative, “Mad Libs” style web forms showed a 25–40% increase in conversion. That’s pretty impressive, especially when you consider that — from a purely “visual” standpoint — the narrative format seems a bit more cluttered and confusing than a traditional, nicely delineated web form.
When checking out Automattic’s new VaultPress service today, I noticed that they are experimenting with this same type of sign-up flow (pictured). This was the first time I had stumbled across this style “in the wild,” and it immediately grabbed my attention.
First, this style is more inviting than traditional methods. It’s humanizing. It makes the event seem like a conversation instead of a rote transaction. In addition, because this approach gathers all of my inputs into a larger unified context, I feel compelled to carefully read (and sometimes re-read) exactly what I am submitting and agreeing to.
That said, I think this approach might work better in certain contexts than in others. I’m not sure I’d want to see this style applied to commercial transactions. (Remember those style guides for purchase order letters in the back of your middle school grammar books? No thanks!). Likewise, this approach only suits forms with a bare minimum of input fields. I’d rather have a traditional (or at least, hybrid) web form for applications that require many different inputs.
On a related note, 37Signals recently pointed out that Priceline requires users to type their initials into a box when accepting the site’s terms. Putting aside the question of whether this makes online terms any more enforceable, I wonder what the quantitative and subjective reactions to this measure have been. Do users find it an annoyance, or do they find it to be a welcome speed bump? Does it cause more of them to actually read what they’re agreeing to before clicking “accept?” Food for thought.
Have you soon any other examples of innovative web forms? What do you think of these implementations?