The general principle of form design is to create a form that is both user-friendly and is compatible with your business’s image-based recognition system requirements. In layman’s terms, your customers and your technology solutions should be able to easily evaluate the data on your printed forms.
Keep it Above The Fold
UX design best practices advise putting a form above the fold on a web page, where it is easy to find and add in the information. The same principle applies to printed forms; all of the critical information should be at the very top of the form.
Aside from this, a printed form works best if it has the following characteristics:
- It is easy for the user to fill out
- It uses as few methods as possible for collecting the information
- The date fields are clearly defined to encourage answers which are correctly formatted
- The instructions are written in clear, simple language
UX practice also dictates that the more comprehensive the completion sections are on a form, the higher your conversion will be. Most forms work best with options such as multiple choice or yes/no questions.
Be Concise, But Gather Necessary Information
When completing forms, whether it be online or printed, deciding what to capture is the most important thing. Here are the top four most important items you should include on every printed form.
- Identify fields that will require Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR)
- List fields by name and identify the number of characters required for each field
- Include headings for each group of data on the form
- Provide instructions and examples of information necessary on the form
For name and address fields, use the maximum number of characters that you would expect to see in the field.
One Universal Form vs. Many Specific Forms
It’s not uncommon to buy forms in bulk to cut printing costs. However, you would be limited to a single form layout in order to realize the savings and forms are inherently more complex done this way. A better practice is to buy smaller quantities of several different forms, this will realize savings from an efficiency standpoint which would eclipse bulk print savings.
White Space is Your Friend
Another UX best practice is the layout of your form. All information should read left to right and be well laid out with appropriate white space where needed. Most printed forms will be on letter size paper. You should allow at least ⅜ inch between any text, lines or graphics on the form and any bubble areas, OCR text, or barcode.
Forms with Remark Office OMR work best with plain white paper and black ink.
Keep Your Fonts Simple
As with digital UX design, font choice is extremely important. If a user cannot read the content, chances are they will skip past it. With printed forms, the best practice is to stick to easy to read sans serif fonts such as our brand font Gotham. Other good choices would be Arial or Helvetica.
Font size should be at least 10 points, although 12 is better.
Bonus Tip: Remember the 4 C’s of Form Design
In conclusion, always keep in mind the four C’s of form design:
- Clear: language used and form layout
- Concise: Conciseness is about gathering the required information in the most efficient way possible.
- Clever: The most basic level of cleverness comes from “sequencing”. Sequencing is the process of directing the user around the form, skipping questions that don’t apply to them.
- Cooperative: Finally, a good form works with the form-filler, i.e. it’s cooperative.
Need to update your business’s forms but don’t know where to start? Stop by your local AlphaGraphics print shop to get help creating custom forms that make information gathering simple and easy.