The question protocol is a simple but effective technique we always use at Clearleft when we're designing online forms. It's a way of doing detective work to fully understand the real purpose of a form in order to maximise the effectiveness of it design.
The biggest effect you can on a form's effectiveness is to ask the right questions, and only the right questions. Every piece of information you ask for is another hurdle for your user to get over before they complete the process.
When designing a form, you can ensure you are gathering only pertinent information by always invoking the question protocol. The question protocol forces you — and your organisation — to ask yourselves why you are requesting a piece of information from a customer. Getting to the bottom of why you’re asking a question means determining precisely how you will be using the answer, if at all.
Each piece of information you ask for has two costs:
With this in mind, the question protocol asks the following of any information that you are asking:
Asking those questions should lead you to answering the ultimate one: “Is the question really necessary?” In the long run following the question protocol can save money and improve conversions and process completion.
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