Usability Updates to the Form Builder

Disclaimer: As of June 2018, Form Builder 5.0 is the default version of the FormAssembly Form Builder. Visit the release blog post to learn about the Form Builder 5.0 improvements.

Last week we ran a number of usability tests here at the FormAssembly home base, and came up with some interesting results. Since then we’ve been working hard to make changes to the Form Builder to make it easier and more efficient to use. We are rolling this out in waves, so if you don’t see a change yet, don’t worry. We should have everyone upgraded within a few days.

Edit Options Available in Preview

We noticed in our tests that people were drawn to interact with the Preview in ways we hadn’t anticipated. The testers attempted to click, drag, and type in the Preview area to edit their forms. As a result, we added a way to access the edit, delete, and copy capabilities from the Preview. When hovering over a form element, you’ll notice that a pencil appears to the right of the form. Hover over the pencil, and the options Edit, Delete, and Copy appear. Clicking Edit will jump you into the Properties panel for the element, where you can edit it just as if you’d clicked in the Outline tab.

Improved Tab Usability

We’ve modified the behavior of the Outline, Properties, and Advanced tabs to make seeing the Preview easier. Now, the “only one tab open” option in the Outline is checked by default, to prevent the problem of the three tabs taking up your entire screen. You can uncheck this option if you are more comfortable working with several tabs open.
You may also notice some arrow icons on the tab labels. These are to give a little added visual help and remind users that the panels can be opened and closed by clicking on the tabs. We added this because the testers all had trouble figuring out that the panels could be closed to reveal the Preview area.
Several of the testers also looked for a way to confirm changes to their forms, thinking their work would be lost if they didn’t save it. Although changes are applied immediately, the new “Done” button at the top of the Properties and Advanced panels gives a little extra feedback and helps guide new users.

Easy Form Renaming

Last week’s usability tests revealed that the process of initially titling a form is somewhat unintuitive for many people. To mitigate this problem, we’ve added a small blue link in the Outline panel that reminds users to add their own title to their new form. The text disappears once the form has been named. The title can still be edited later by clicking it in the Outline or by clicking the “Edit” button from within the Preview.

Question-Type Tooltips

Tooltips now appear consistently when hovering over the question types in the Properties panel. Previously they appeared only sporadically, but since our testers found them very helpful we made it a priority to fix the problem.

“Predefined Elements” now “Commonly Used Elements”

We’ve changed the label on this button to make it easier for new users to understand its purpose. The testers unanimously agreed that “predefined elements” didn’t help them understand what would be in the dropdown menu, so we hope this change makes it clearer.

Future Changes

We’ve got several other changes in the planning stages, and will announce them as they become more concrete. If you have an idea you would like to see implemented, post it at our UserVoice forum, leave a comment here, or let us know on Twitter @FormAssembly.

Don’t just collect data — leverage it.