Howdy, my name is _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​.

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?