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  1. #1
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    Oct 2004
    United Kingdom
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    General Enquiry Forms: How many fields is best?

    I have ummed and ahhed about this for quite a while and I'm still unsure.

    A couple of websites which I work on use a form to send an enquiry to the company. I need to find a middle ground between obtaining enough information from the potential customer and not providing too many input fields for the potential customer.

    Obviously if there are too many fields then this may present the user with too much work and they might just hit the back button, but too little information may ruin a good chance of obtaining some good information about them.

    The basic requirements for me are:
    First name, Surname, email address, country, but other fields obviously help.

    Yes it depends on what I need to do with the information, but I was just wondering what middle ground you have found when dealing with general enquiry forms. Please tell!!

  2. #2
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Salford / Manchester / UK
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    it's really about only asking for the information that's absolutely essential for carrying out the specific task initiated by the form. there is often a desire (especially from marketing led projects) to milk people for information whenever one gets a chance; another danger is to be too prescriptive in terms of what format users need to enter data. so, for your enquiry form for instance:

    - do you really need firstname and surname as separate fields where a single "name" would possibly do?
    - is asking for the country really essential to the way you handle the enquiry? if you're providing the same level of service, regardless of whether a user is from the UK or from Fiji, then it's not worth asking.

    as a general rule: try to keep the form as brutally short as possible, particularly if it may be used by purely casual/one-off users (another example would be sign-up forms for forums: you'd only ask for email address and preferred username, and only later provide the option for users to update their full profile, with name, occupation, etc)
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