These are two example of forms that I’ve had reason to deal with in the last couple of days. One thing they have in common is that I was immediately antagonised by their opening lines, which illustrate two ways to annoy someone filling in a form before they’ve even started answering a question.
1. Getting all legal
Did I sign up at birth to fill in all forms you send me? Not that I remember, so don’t wag your legal obligation stick at me. I’m happy to fill in your form because I know it’s a national exercise, but please ask me politely.
Make me feel like I’m involved in something, not that I’m going to be punished if I don’t.
2. Send me somewhere else
I’ve picked up your form and it looks like hard work. So, where do I start? Oh, you want me to read a booklet first, as well as the two pages of notes that are attached to the back of the form? Maybe I’ll stick to using the bus then.
Give me everything I need to know in one place. It might make the form longer, but I’ll let you off it makes my life easier.