Mobile form improvements for better UX – registration

Part of White Night Melbourne 2018 (February) was a membership drive utilising our website member join form. White Night runs from 7pm to 7am, when people carry their mobile, not a laptop. Completing the old join form on a mobile was a poor experience. I drew upon HTML5 for Web Designers and Mobile First to come up with improvements to the join experience. I designed four changes intent on making it easier to complete the form via mobile devices. It was a thrill to see this first iteration implemented in time for the event.

Mobile form improvements made it faster to complete; easier to fill out; and gave more accurate data.
UX improvements to form completion: faster, easier, and more accurate.

The old join form

The old form contained 17 fields. It was never designed to be completed on mobile devices.
The old join form was designed to be filled out on desktop or laptop with a physical keyboard.

There were 17 fields in the old join form including Country selection which defaulted to Australia. To complete the old form, Australians were to fill out 9 required fields, and 7 optional fields. There was no default value selected for State. Choosing your state was required for all Australians despite that 90% of the registrations were Victorian.

A phone number was a required field. A separate field asked for a mobile number if you wanted to receive SMS notifications of items ready for collection. If you wanted membership renewal notices, you had to type your email address twice.

Poor experiences completing the old join form on mobile

Entering a phone number on the old form was difficult.
Onscreen numeric keyboard for digits 1 through 0 across the narrow width of mobile phone offer small touch targets.

On a touchscreen device, the phone and email inputs did not provide helpful keyboards to enter details easily or accurately. For instance, entering a phone number mandated an additional tap to switch to a numeric keys. The 10 digit buttons across a narrow screen are small touch targets. It was even harder to enter an email address like me@example.com.au After typing the initial letters, you’d have to switch:

  1. to numeric keyboard for the @ symbol
  2. back to enter more letters
  3. again for every full stop “.” character!

Then the form asked people to confirm your email address, so do all that tapping and switching all over again!

A column chart comparing completion time on the old form across desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. From the 2016-2017 financial year to the 6 months of July to December 2017, form completion time took longer on mobiles.

From July to December 2017, analytics reported that completing the old form on a mobile took over a minute longer than on a desktop.

Completing the old form on a mobile was a poor experience that took too much time. This presented a significant barrier to our membership drive. The mobile form improvements sprint was on!

Improvements to form input operability

Collaborating with our developer I set out to make mobile form improvements that would result in a superior joining experience.

Select a default that matches most users

With 90% of Australians choosing Victoria as their state, it made sense to pre-populate this as the default selection. Setting this as the default reduces the effort for the majority of users. It also maintains the same number of interactions for interstate or international visitors.

Map of Australia with state of Victoria highlighted. 90% of forms completed had Victoria selected.
See inspiration for other form inputs you can pre-populate with The Power of Defaults.

Using input type="tel" for a phone number

By changing the HTML input type to “tel” it becomes easier for mobile users to operate a familiar, large button dial keypad to enter their phone number. Additionally, autofill options appearing above the dial pad only need one tap to input your entire phone number.

Mobile form improvements make phone numbers easy to enter.
Entering a phone number becomes easier on mobile.

A checkbox and validation for SMS opt in

Internal data showed when members opted in for SMS notifications, we don’t need a secondary phone number to contact them. Instead of a second phone number for SMS notifications, I changed the design to one phone input and a checkbox. I worked with our developer to create validation code. When the SMS notifications checkbox was checked, validation checks the phone number is in the format of an Australian mobile.

Using input type="email"

Mobile form improvements make email addresses easy to enter.
Entering an email address becomes easier on mobile.

By changing the HTML input type to “email” it becomes easier for mobile users to operate a keyboard with an @ symbol, and common .com and .au domain extensions available from a long press on the full stop key. Like phone, email autofill options require just 1 tap. Furthermore, the HTML5 input type=”email” provides basic email address format validation in all modern browsers, not just on mobile. I used all this as a compelling argument to remove the Confirm your email address question.

Outcomes result in a superior joining experience on your mobile

We changed the doctype to HTML5, made a handful of code tweaks, and tested via BrowserStack and on real mobile devices too. Then our developer deployed the changes just in time for the weekend event. Thank you Troy!

2 pie charts comparing devices used to complete the old form versus new. Desktops were used for 3/4 old form completions; then mobiles were used for 1/2 new form completions.
Desktop devices reigned old form completions (74.3%) through January. On the weekend of 17th to 18th February, the new form saw mobile rise to 49.4% of completions.

In the 6 weeks leading up to deployment, desktop devices continued to reign with 74% of form completions, while mobile had less than 18%. Over the weekend of White Night, nearly 50% of forms were completed on mobile devices.

A column chart comparing completion time for the old form versus the new, across device types. Desktop became 33 seconds faster; tablets 66 seconds faster; mobile 94 seconds faster.
A column chart comparing the time taken to complete the form across desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. From January 2017 to the weekend of White Night, form completion time reduced on all devices, especially mobile.

In terms of time taken to complete the form, this release leveled the playing field across devices. The new form saves mobile users 94 seconds. These mobile form improvements also made the desktop experience faster. Throughout 2017, there were 22,704 join forms completed. If last year’s registrations all used the new form on mobile, we’d save 593 hours!

This year’s event was a trigger to embrace mobile form improvements. These improvements make it faster to complete, easier to fill out, and provide more accurate data. The design principles underpinning these changes persist beyond White Night. No matter where or when, completing the form on your mobile is now a superior experience. The design shift set us on a course for future iterative developments of member registration and innovation in onboarding processes.

Current state of becoming a Library member

In January 2018, I began my new role as Digital User Experience Manager in the Digital Experience team at State Library Victoria. My first task was to map the current experience of joining the Library to attain free membership, both from offsite and onsite.

Short of emotional data and user pain points, I relied on my heuristic review of the artifacts and process, as well as information gathered from internal sources including:

  • conversations with key colleagues;
  • YouTube channel content;
  • Google Analytics reports.

Analysing and synthesising the data at hand, I created the following map (more a service blueprint than a journey map).

A service blueprint of joining the Library through stages of: initiate; web form; collection choice; manual processing; welcome; and membership.

Initiate

Whether onsite or offsite, people either self-directed or were staff-mediated to start their join the Library task. Some people arrived via a Register link in the masthead, others were directed to a dedicated computer at a staffed registration desk.

Web form

Users completed a web form that lacked optimisation for touch devices. It took 40 seconds longer to complete on a mobile compared to a desktop device. The HTML and server-side technologies are bespoke, giving us the freedom to design, develop, test and iterate many improvements over the following months.

Collect choice

One question on the form asked people how they’d like to receive their Library card: at the Library; or by post. The vast majority, 77%, chose to receive their card by post. Choosing by post means:

  • no need to travel to the Library;
  • no need to find your way to a registration desk in a complex building;
  • no need to interact with staff.

By post was the slower and kind of self-service method of receiving your Library card. This option also had the greatest impact on manual processing efforts.

Manual processing

At the Library

Only 23% chose to present identification to staff at the registration desk in order to receive their Library card. Staff would retrieve a plastic card from stock, make record adjustments in a computer system, then issue the card.

By post

After removing spam registrations, and resolving incomplete or incorrect addresses, staff would:

  1. Retrieve a plastic card;
  2. Make record adjustments in a computer system;
  3. Match the card with the corresponding named and addressed envelope;
  4. Pack in a welcome letter.

Then a batch were taken to dispatch where, on business days, Australia Post would commence delivery.

Welcome

Members who chose by post received their card and a generic welcome letter. No longer was the letter personalised. It wasn’t even customised: members residing outside Victoria got the same messages about accessing e-resources – a privilege non-Victorians are ineligible for!

Membership begins

Once people found their way to the registration desk, joining onsite only took a few minutes. For Victorians to receive their card in the post, it took between 2 to 6 days, then they could begin accessing member benefits.

End note

This blueprint indicates focus areas for a project that was initiated 5 months later, in June 2018. I lead this project which would bring about:

  • faster delivery of member benefits;
  • automation of manual processes.

In future posts I’ll describe pertinent aspects of the project. With over 20,000 registrations per year, this simple transaction fits neatly into what Gerry McGovern calls a sweet spot for digital self-service.