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Six Granular UX Changes To Improve Long Forms


2016 was a tough year for the UK insurance market. Rising expenses and low interest rates were compounded by a change to the Ogden discount rate which resulted in larger pay-outs. Many insurers struggled to remain in the black and one insurer announced a £171m loss in pre-tax profits. While some of the Ogden costs will likely be passed on to customers, insurance prices cannot rise significantly due to the maturing aggregator sub-sector.

All this adds up to a highly competitive market where competing with other insurers and aggregators is more important than ever. Granular changes in quotation form UX could hold the key to increasing quotation conversion rates and competitive edge. These key findings from our in-depth UK home insurance market research will help you assess the effectiveness of your quotation forms.

What Our Research Findings Mean for You

We used our extensive experience in form analytics to conduct an in-depth review of the UK home insurance market’s quotation forms. We reviewed 33 industry leaders and scored and ranked them for usability to provide you with these five key takeaways:

  • Insurance forms could be half the length
  • Use of inline validation could be much higher
  • Aggregators use inline validation, direct insurers don’t
  • The highest scoring insurers use fewer text boxes and drop downs
  • Auto-selecting or populating data is a significant time saver

Each of these findings represents an opportunity for insurers to improve form conversion rates.

Six Questions You Should Be Asking About Your Forms

Can You Reduce the Number of Fields for Greater UX?

Our research showed a significant variance in the number of fields insurers were using to extract what is, essentially, the same customer information.

With a broad range of 36 to 92 fields, there was a correlation between higher numbers of fields and longer form completion times. Comparing your quotation forms with your competitors’ is a good way to identify what they do differently and apply it where appropriate.

Are You Using Mobile Keyboards When You Should?

Our research identified a significant difference in the use of mobile friendly keyboards between aggregators and direct insurers.

Mobile friendly keyboards are those that provide alpha numeric characters for users to select from when entering data such as telephone number or post code. Adopt the right keyboard for the right set of data and you’ll save customers from switching between keyboards reducing clicks and preventing frustration.

All the aggregator forms we reviewed provide mobile friendly keyboards whereas direct insurers were using them around half the time. If you’re a direct insurer, it could be time to change.

Should You be Using Inline Validation?

All forms require server validation to ensure responses are fit for purpose and that they won’t break your database or contain malicious code. Back-end validation can be problematic because it takes place once a user has completed their input and mentally moved on. Taking the customer back to a section they thought was finished jars their user experience.

An alternative solution is to provide inline validation, a front-end process where users are provided with feedback as they progress through the form. A classic example is feedback as you create a new password. The example below shows how the system lets the user know what the issue is and how to resolve it in real-time.

Source: Formulate

This approach is fine so long as the user has pressed the ‘sign up’ button. But there are some businesses who are still getting inline validation wrong by providing feedback too early. In the example above, if the error message is provided before the customer has finished entering their password, ‘helpful’ becomes ‘frustrating’.

Our findings show that inline validation is popular amongst home insurance companies with 75% using it to identify errors only or both errors and success. To decide whether inline validation is right for your forms, it’s crucial to conduct A/B testing with detailed supporting analytics.

What Type of Fields are You Using?

Although different fields are required to collect different types of information, not all field types are born equal. Our research showed the average time to complete different fields varies considerably:

  • Text box 4.1 seconds
  • Drop-down lists 3.6 seconds
  • Radio button list 2.8 seconds
  • Tick-box 1.1 seconds

While it’s not possible to use the faster options in every instance, it’s worth assessing your forms to identify where you could swap out slower, clunkier options with quicker, slicker field types.

A prime opportunity to do this is to replace drop-downs with radio buttons. Our research shows radio buttons are, on average, 0.8 seconds quicker to complete. Over the course of a long form, this could save users several seconds and minimise the number of clicks required. Make enough granular changes like this and you could significantly reduce completion times, improve conversion rates and ultimately, the bottom line.

Can You Auto-Select and Pre-Populate Fields?

Auto-selecting and pre-populating fields are significant time-savers. Analyse your customers’ most commonly provided response – or if they’re a returning customer, use last year’s response – and pre-select this from either a drop-down or radio button. The example below has pre-selected the most common answers but still allows customers to change their response.

Source: Formisimo

This approach saves customers time because they can scan for accuracy and push on to the next section without needing to click.

How are You Going to Measure the Impact?

Redesigning your forms to deliver the best UX possible doesn’t need to be a big project. Modifying a single element of your form, then testing the impact, is an effective way to make changes and determine their effectiveness. Do this by setting a metric that defines success before generating insight to visitor behaviour to see whether your amendment has been successful.

Conduct your testing on a representative audience over a sufficient timeframe to get the most accurate results. You’ll also need analytical tools to provide granular data and insights to your changes. Of course, audiences, technology and design standards change, so you’ll have to continuously assess the performance of your form and make ongoing changes.

Formisimo is a leading form analytics platform specialising in measuring how users engage with your forms. That insight supercharges your A/B testing. Our Form Analytics platform makes it easy to identify your biggest problems and provides you with the insights to make better decisions for your business, all backed up by data.