Archive for the ‘eCommerce’ Category

Usability in Online Forms

To explain a few concepts in usability in online forms, it’s best to go through an example.

To apply for a job at Teach for America (TFA) you have to fill out an online form.  The first section looks like this.

TFA Employment Application Form

TFA Employment Application Form

At first glance, it seems easy to complete.

However, once you get past the first couple of sections, it asks you your previous involvement with TFA.   It asks your affiliation with TFA several times in a great deal of detail.   I have just pasted a section here to illustrate, but this section of the form goes on for awhile.

Affiliations with TFA on th organization's application form

Affiliations with TFA on th organization's application form

For example, it asks if you are a Corps Member.  If you answer “No”, it asks you to complete the year you started and ended.  This clearly doesn’t make sense if you have never been a Corps Member.  Yet, the form still requires you to select N/A for “Beginning Year” and “Ending Year”.  There are several questions like this.

When I applied for a position, it took a long time to submit my application because of this section.  Every time I submitted the form, it was rejected because I didn’t fill out the details correctly.  Try it for yourself and see what I mean.

It’s great that TFA is encouraging people with affiliations to the organization to apply for other positions within the organization, but their approach makes their application form cumbersome.  I would imagine it may also discourage people without a past affiliation with TFA from applying since they project a strong emphasis on past experience with the organization.

I believe it is important to have validations and checks for incorrect or missing data that is important to the application but you run the risk of really peeving the user if it’s not done in a way that  the user can easily complete the action required.

I would recommend TFA do some usability testing across several scenarios of users who would try to complete this form.   Then, I would recommend a first step to making the user’s experience a bit easier.  Revise this form to ask once if the applicant is affiliated with TFA in any way, and add some logic to expand the form for those with past affiliations to describe their affiliations in more detail.

This example could apply to a volunteer application, a ticket order or any other form your organization may want a user to complete on your site.  Please consider  the user when creating your online forms.

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WNYC pledge email and contest

I love WNYC and listen almost every day.

It’s pledge time and I just received an email enticing me to give a donation with a contest to win a MacBook Pro and an Amazon Kindle.

I wanted to enter the contest but I am a monthly sustainer so my donation is automatically charged to my credit card every month. (Btw – this is a great system since I can support WNYC continuously without having to think about it. More on that in another post.)

I don’t want to give another pledge so the only box I could check off was one that said “No, I can’t contribute at this time, but please enter me in the Giveaway (Skip to Step 3 below)” which is not true since I am already giving.  See the section at the bottom of the form that says, “Or Make a Single Contribution in the amount of:

I am a monthly sustainer but can't let them know when I enter the MacBook Pro giveway.

I am a monthly sustainer but can't let them know when I enter the MacBook Pro giveway.

Some recommendations –

  • I would have liked to check off a box that says, “I am already a monthly sustainer” and not be labelled as someone who can’t give but enters contests for free stuff from an organization that needs support. This could also apply to someone who has already given their yearly pledge. Perhaps a checkbox that says, “I have already given a pledge.” One additional checkbox on the online form and a sustaining patrons can participate in the contest as well as feel acknowledged for the support they already provide every month. Besides donations, I would imagine WNYC is also interested in patrons continuing to participate in the brand.
  • One larger change to the form asking me if I already give with a message including my monthly pledge amount asking if I would consider increasing my donation. More on that in another post.
  • Some simple email targeting and patrons could get a more customized email that acknowledges their membership and then asks if they would like to increase their donation. Customize the landing page for this targeted email to acknowledge sustaining patrons.

These small changes are not complicated. Just require a bit of thought and planning. More on these themes in another post.

iGive – Kiva.org Helped with $4 Donation

If you are like me and you pretty much buy everything online, check out iGive.  You can support an organization of your choice.  I chose Kiva and my last two online purchases gave the organization $4.

Here’s a clip from their newsletter –

iGive newsletter - Kiva helped with a $4 donation and other stores

iGive newsletter - Kiva helped with a $4 donation and promoting other stores

When I use iGive’s search engine to click through to the store website, the click gives a couple cents to the organization.  When I buy something from the store through a click from iGive’s website, a percentage of the profit (depending on the agreement) goes to the organization.


If I’m going to shop, might as well get the store to donate part of the profit to something I care about.


This is a great use of donation through Pay per Click advertising, social networking (you can invite your friends to give.  First time shoppers get $5 to donate on their first purchase within 45 days of signing up.)


Check out iGive.com and see if it makes sense to ask your patrons to support you while they shop.