The form fields that are selected for each question will determine the quality of a form and the quality of the data you collect in your EHR software. It’s important that you understand each of the different field types to make sure you’re selecting the one that works best for your purposes.
If you’ve attended a wedding or school dance in the past ten years, you’ve either made your way towards (or speedily away from) the dance floor once you heard the words “to the right, to the right” reverberate through the event space. The Cupid Shuffle seems like it’s been an essential part of any event that included dancing since it first came out in 2007.
It’s the same with software form design. Whether your form flows “to the right, to the right”, or from top to bottom influences your user’s overall experience. And you want their experience to be a good one.
Preserve the User Experience
Forms allow your agency to capture a wide variety of information that your management team can use to influence future decisions. But if a form is poorly designed, it’s not a good form - even if it has all the data fields you want to capture. A clunky form detracts from the form’s user experience which can hinder their productivity and motivation that drive completeness of information.
Think about the last time you were trying to complete a form that made every field required – even the ones that clearly didn’t pertain to you. Or the form that was so long it just felt like you were constantly scrolling. You most likely became frustrated halfway through and gave up or inwardly cursed the form creator as you half-hardheartedly selected “N/A” for what felt like the hundredth time.
You want neither of these things to happen when you distribute a form to your staff. To avoid it, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Which way should my fields flow?
Your fields will typically either flow left to right or top to bottom or vary by sections. Your selection should depend on how many fields you have and whether they can be grouped together. You don’t want all your fields to flow left to right because then your form might look cluttered. But you also don’t want all your fields to flow top to bottom because then your form might be too long to scroll through.
Your best option is to group like fields together and have them flow left to right. Or if you don’t have a lot of fields, you can utilize a top to bottom flow.
Should I section my fields?
If you have fields that naturally fit together, you definitely want to section them together. For example, you can section all your basic information fields together or all your medical history questions together. Then each section can flow top to bottom. This makes your form easier to read and understand since all the pertinent fields are together.
Does it matter where I place my fields?
It does! Field placement can be a helpful tool you can use to create context for subsequent fields. For example, you’d want to have a field asking what type of substances your client has abused before you have a field that asks what types of treatment programs they’ve been a part of. To have them reversed interrupts the flow of a logical thought process and slows down the end-user.
As you’re creating forms for your agency, you need to try to focus on the overall design and structure of the forms. This doesn’t mean turning your form creation sessions into art classes – it means paying attention to the areas we’ve mentioned above to ensure a user-friendly and thoughtful form experience.