October 02, 2007

Flashy FormsBuilder

I went to a session where the application being demonstrated was a Flash app which did something very similar to our own FormsBuilder app; it let users create their own forms with checkboxes and radio buttons and forth. The only material difference was that the whole creation process took place on a single screen and took place without any round trips to the server. So you could add a new question anywhere on the form by clicking on the divider/button between two existing questions, a little popup menu let you choose the type of question, you could drag whole questions or elements within questions around to re-order them, and you edited individual questions right there on the same screen which showed you the whole form.

What surprised me is how much slicker this felt in use than our FormsBuilder version, where you go to a separate screen to edit each question, a separate screen for form properties, and a separate screen to re-order questions. I don’t think of FormsBuilder as being especially clunky, and if you’d asked me to predict how much difference doing everything on one screen would make, I would have said not much. But when I came to try it, I found that it was a substantially nicer, slicker experience.

There’s nothing intrinsically Flash-centric about this, of course; single screen interfaces can be done in HTML just as well as in Flash nowadays. Biut it’s interesting how much difference to the (or at least, my) user experience it makes.

- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Julie Moreton

    Ooh that sounds good. People quite like FormsBuilder though because the process is broken down into nice easy steps for them. There is a lot going on on that one screen – is it intuitive for the novice?

    02 Oct 2007, 15:31

  2. John Dale

    Yes, I think so. In fact, not having to move between screens when creating new questions or editing existing questions arguably makes it more usable.

    02 Oct 2007, 19:59

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