Let’s start with defining:
Validation Drag: The concept of form validation, although needed, will cause some visitors to abandon completing online forms. With practically unlimited web site choices some time-starved Type-A visitors may leave to never return if faced with having to correct their input on a form due to form validation.
To avoid validation drag, we need to improve the engineering, designing, and programming of forms to minimize the need to invoke validation thereby increasing posts (e.g. customer sign-ups, ecommerce orders, etc.). The form’s UI (user interface) should be designed to minimize the chance a visitor will input incomplete or incorrect data without increasing brainload time. For example, a form could give visitors feedback about inputting the correct length of a password while the visitor types.
In White Lion’s last “Programming Sync” meeting, our team of 7 programmers and I vigorously debated what we now define as validation drag. In the usability corner we want to decrease and ultimately eliminate the chance a visitor becomes frustrated while completing online tasks. In the design corner (our programmers have awesome design awareness and many with design experience) is the need to decrease “stuff” on the page.
The team had already agreed that giving feedback to password input on a form made sense. A while back a team member posted a “Web Sighting” to our Intranet noticing how Skype showed a count down mechanism to the right of the password input field.
Our debate expanded and questioned giving visitors feedback on other fields like username and email address using AJAX. At the end of the day, the debate was a great exercise in the reduction of validation drag and brainload time creating better user interfaces.
It’s really all about protecting the user, their time and their success accomplishing tasks on the site. Our Internet Agency’s approach is to collaborate and remove any potential for Validation Drag with form feedback components (e.g. password length feedback as the user types). Our team must balance the added feedback components with keeping the user interface clean and intuitive. Being a culture of data, we will continue to measure, adjust and learn from the feedback components we implement.
Steve C. Kahle – Managing Principal – White Lion Internet Agency