Blog Post

7 Design Tips for Mobile Forms Success

Posted by Miranda Cheatham

Design defined on mobile a mobile device

Building mobile forms with Device Magic’s drag and drop form builder is easy and straightforward. However, beyond the technical how-to of creating mobile forms, certain design strategies can improve the user experience of the forms you build.

The effect of UX on mobile forms is twofold. It can determine whether your staff embraces the new technology, and it can affect the accuracy of the entered information.

In an example of an enterprise software being used for power plant maintenance, a Deloitte Consulting executive told WSJ, “Only a fraction of total service requests were being tracked in the system because users were reluctant to tangle with [the software] every time they needed to enter a service request. After the company put a new front end on the system to improve the user experience, the number of service requests in the system spiked, and the plant achieved significant user adoption with virtually no training costs.”

After incorporating usability design, Deloitte reports a 300 percent increase in worker productivity, and 55 percent reduction in training time.

You probably already know that mobile forms are a better way to do business digitally. However, using good design can make the effect of the software measurably greater. In the seven design principles below, we’ll review easy ways you can optimize the design of your mobile forms.

Mobile Form Design Tips

1. Designing for Mobile Devices

From a design perspective, mobile forms have significant advantages over paper forms.

First, there’s the speed and uniformity of making updates. When changes are made to the layout or information fields, the update occurs instantly across your business’ entire user base. That means employees won’t face multiple versions of paper forms, and admins won’t struggle with missing information.

Additionally, mobile forms provide staff with an easier interface than clipboards of paperwork. Smartphones are always within reach, so it’s natural to use them for daily business tasks.

When food delivery business From the Farmer switched from paper forms to Device Magic’s mobile forms, the technology made it easier to send status updates, and delivery drivers increased their rate of compliance to 95 percent.

Yet, when it comes to form design, going digital isn’t the same as going mobile. Compared to desktop design, mobile forms must be optimized for small screens and hand-based gestures and interactions. This means an adjustment to typographical elements such as vertical line height and the space between lines. It also means that fields should be stacked vertically for easy scrolling.

With Device Magic, these mobile-friendly, design principles are built into everything we do. Unlike if you were building your own business app from scratch, you don’t have to consider the framework of information design. Instead, Device Magic gives you the tools to build an unlimited number of mobile-friendly data-gathering forms. Businesses have the flexibility to rollout their new mobile solutions same day or in phases that accommodate an organization’s volume of users. Device Magic even offers support for form building to ensure your form is optimized for selectively collecting only the data you need, and nothing you don’t.

2. Field Formatting

With Device Magic, you can collect a wide variety of information and inputs within a single mobile form. However, the field format should cater to the type of information being entered.

In the example of building a mobile forms invoice or work order, your field types could be as follows:

  • Product quantity: Integer field
  • Description: Free text
  • Unit Price: Decimal field
  • Line Total: Calculated field

By using specified field types such as email address, decimal, or date, the user will have a clearer understanding of what information to enter. Additionally, using these custom form elements can help improve your data accuracy and give you more power when automating data integration. For example, the amount “$5.00” in a currency field would sync smoothly into your integrated software, such as QuickBooks. However, if you were using an open text field to capture the amount, a user could enter the word “five” or a mixed number of “5 or 6.” This could affect your calculation power and integration capacity.

3. Question Order

The best mobile forms have a flow to their questions. The content progresses naturally, and the questions build in complexity so the easy points are addressed first and the more intensive questions follow afterward.

Additionally, for longer and more complex forms, grouping together similar types of information provides a logical and intuitive experience. In a case of poorly designed forms, consider a U.S. tax form on which users need to jump between pages to log the subtotals and totals of a single information category.

Depending on the purpose of your form, your users may have their smartphone in hand when completing their job responsibilities, and they may be entering information as each step is completed. In these cases, the order of the forms’ questions should sync up directly with the user process to provide a streamlined flow.

4. Straightforward Labels

Be clear and concise in the language of your field labels. Remember that users will likely be scanning rather than reading each word, and long explanations can sometimes be skipped or overlooked.

Focus on readability with your grammar and punctuation. Avoid using all-caps text outside of acronyms because it slows down reading speeds. Labels are easiest to read when they’re written in sentence case, which means that the first letter of the sentence would be capitalized and the remainder would be lowercase.

Additionally, be sure to clearly mark which fields are optional.

5. Prioritize Design That’s Low Interaction Cost

Even as mobile phones are convenient, the tapping and typing on a mobile device isn’t as easy or error free as it is on a PC. Prioritizing low interaction cost means making design choices that could reduce the number of user interactions.

For example, when the content of your form allows, opt for a multiple-choice list question rather than a free text block for users to type in responses. This reduces the total amount of user effort, which can create an easier interaction experience and improve your data quality.

Create further customizations by integrating your forms with other business software platforms. Enhance the ingredients for creating your forms by utilizing resources, like spreadsheets or PDFs, and referencing them during form building. Pre-populating answers for known information drastically helps cut down on interaction time.

6. Consider Users’ Needs and Friction Points

A mobile form is most effective when it’s a unified portal for entering information, and this effectiveness is reduced when users need to augment it with other communication sources. For example, a construction manager shouldn’t need to follow up a report submission by emailing more photos or descriptions.

When creating your forms, consider the users’ breadth of needs in order to implement all the necessary fields. Remember to use multimedia input fields for photos, signatures, drawings, barcodes, and other information types.

Following your initial rollout, you might learn about user challenges. While some form builders require that design modifications are done by experienced IT staff or contract workers, Device Magic makes it easy to implement modifications and adjustments using the drag and drop form builder.

7. Advanced Functionality for a Smoother UX

With Device Magic, you have the option to enhance your mobile forms with an advanced set of tools.

You can implement conditional questions that are dependent upon a user’s previous answer. You can create subforms and validation fields. You can collect GPS location and automated timestamps.

You can also use in-form calculation fields with Excel-like functions to calculate totals, sales tax, averages, profits, or other numeric combinations. In one instance, users could rely upon an automated sum field to give a customer an invoice, instead of needing to switch to a calculator app to do the math.

These advanced fields give you the power to design an optimal mobile form that creates a streamlined user experience.

Learn more about how Device Magic can help your business save an average of 10 administrative hours each week and reduce errors by 50 percent.

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