While form design isn’t a new concept – there are many articles out there that talk about this specific practice – webforms are often a fact of life for many websites that are transactional in nature.

These types of workflows require individuals to sign up for an online product, request information or make purchases. If users feel that the workflow is too difficult, the company could see a reduction in user satisfaction, fewer people adopting their products and lower conversion rates.

From a testing perspective, these workflows also require individuals to enter personal information, such as first name/last name, address, phone number, and so on. Often, the research goal is to understand how users are using the forms, without collecting any personal identifiable information.

Here are a few ways to initiate a test where there are webform fields as part of the experience.

The key to webform field testing is providing dummy information

By asking users to provide alternate information (not their own personal information) in a live site experience, you can ensure that the tester will not create a real web foot print (new account, new purchase, etc.) While some people may think that using dummy information is not authentic enough, often testers can relate to the content types enough where they can understand and see how it’s relevant. (For example, entering in a first name feels the same whether it is your own name or someone else’s name). 

Use prototypes or mock-ups

You can use prototypes to simulate pre-dev and post-dev experiences, or even the experience on your live site. This has the benefit of giving users an opportunity to understand the experience so that they can identify usability issues in the workflow. While this works well, in some cases it may not always be possible to use if a live website is too complex to go towards a mockup.

Testing on a live website

There are two key approaches with UserZoom that you can use to test a transactional experience. 

Task-based navigation studies

Task-based navigation studies that are being run on a live website allow you to see how a participant may interact with the website as it’s happening. The challenge with these types of studies is that they work best with specific, directed tasks. Usually these are known tasks that users may regular conduct.

Intercept surveys

True intent studies allow you to evaluate the post-task perception of a real website experience on the same page where it is happening. While they are effective for collecting in-the-moment feedback, the feedback may not feel as visceral as seeing a user’s video of their experience.

Asking participants to opt-in

In any study where you want to ask users to complete a transactional workflow, it’s important to set them up properly so that they understand what will be asked of them and why.

Here’s an opt-in approach to inform participants:

Here’s a legal approach to informing participants:

 

In summary

There are a number of ways to still conduct research without revealing a participant’s information. Whether it’s mocking up a live website, testing an early prototype or choosing the correct research approach for testing a live website directly, webform field testing studies are most effective when testers are made aware ahead of time.