Two ways to annoy form users – before they’ve even answered a question

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

text from the envelope for UK Census form, stating that a response is required by law

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.

The solution

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

UK driving licence application form D1 with instructions referring to extra booklet

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.

The solution

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.

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