How important is a question when designing a form? How should I word my questions? I had an interesting discussion yesterday about the wording of a question on a Pre Start checklist.

The question was “There is safe access and egress to the work area” to which the operator would click Yes or No. These questions came from the existing paper checklist who’s origins I don’t know but the word that tripped me up is “egress”. Google says Egress- noun – the action of going out of or leaving a place. I consider myself well read and I didn’t know the word I had to look it up.

When we a designing software screens and forms, there are a number of key rules we use when labelling inputs and fields

  • Use the client’s terminology – For example, if our client calls their client a “Customer” we use the term Customer. If the client uses the term “Contact” we use their term. This makes it simple for the user to understand the system.
  • Use Grade 5 English Level – This is the rule I think that is broken here. We live in a global society and not everyone is native English speaker. We try to use the simplest words we can so the chance of them being misunderstood is reduced.
  • Group Fields Together – We group similar fields together, for example, asking someone’s Street address then 5 inputs later asking their Suburb makes no sense. We expect them to be close together.
  • Tell a Story – When grouping the inputs put the most important information at the top. For example, on a Client screen, the Client’s name is one of the first inputs because it is the most important information on that screen.

I am sure there are more but these are the keys rules we follow when designing screens.

In the example above we would label the inputs “There is safe access in and out of the work area”.

The result of following these rules is to make the data entry process as Quick and painless possible. By using complicated language (that you have to look up) or causing confusion because the order of the screen is wrong will just slow things down and make everyone’s life harder.

If you need help designing your screen feel free to Contact Us.