by anthony on 11/03/10 at 12:03 am
[Note: This post is a response to Expedia on how one extra data field can cost $12m]
Expedia learned a valuable lesson about optional form fields. And it only took them $12 million to do it. You, however, can learn it right here for free. The lesson is this. When you put more and more fields and elements on your forms, you increase the chances of your users making mistakes. When you’re dealing with money, this can cost you.
This is what happened with Expedia’s form. Their users mistakenly interpreted an optional form field labeled “Company” as the place to put the name of their bank. After putting in their bank name, they went on to enter the address of their bank in the address field, rather than their home address. When it came time to verify their address to process their credit card, it failed because it was not the right address. When they removed the optional field, they started seeing $12 million of profit a year.
When it comes to design, less is always more. By excluding unnecessary information and elements in your designs, you not only make important elements shine , but you cut the chances of confusing your users and having users make mistakes. Simplicity and clarity always wins. To make things clear, you have to make things simple. To make things simple, you have to clear things you don’t need.