Bookmark: "A simple approach to improving form design"

Sebastian Greger


“The question protocol”, as suggested by Richard Rutter, is a handy heuristic to evaluate the data fields of a form:

When designing a form, you can ensure you are gathering only pertinent information by always invoking the question protocol. The question protocol forces you – and your organization – to ask yourselves why you are requesting a piece of information from a customer. Getting to the bottom of why you’re asking a question means determining precisely how you will be using the answer, if at all.

Considering that every data point collected is a burden for the user who has to provide it, as well as a burden for the recipient who has to deal with it responsibly and in compliance with privacy laws, it is crucial to always cross-check the necessity for each and every one of them – the suggested 10-step questionnaire lists a convenient set of questions for reflection.

Or, condensed into one tweet:

Probably my favourite design principle: “minimum viable data” - especially when getting info from/about people
— Richard Rutter

This “minimum viable data” concept brings to mind the “minimum actionable dataset” (MAD) approach suggested by Chris Stacey in 2014:

With the constantly decreasing threshold to gather, process and store more and more data points, ever more bits and pieces of information are translated into bytes and stored away on the never-ending harddrives of the so called “cloud”. Undeniably, there is great potential in data. However, the question needs to be asked: How much data is too much data? In the fight to reverse the trend of excessive and uncontrolled storage of personal data and to put its human owners into focus through distributed solutions, a discussion on “data obesity” and approaches like MAD should be part of any design process involving user data. […]

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

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