How do we design better form-filling tools? Some design principles

We are adding in functionality into Navocado, with the ability fill out forms in the guide.

In our design work, we’ve made some principles for how a ‘good experience’ of filling in PDF forms online would look like. They are helping us define what desktop- and mobile-based tools could look like, that would be lightweight and easy to use for people trying to get through legal tasks.

Here’s our rundown of good form-completion design principles:

  1. They should be conversational and clear. Ask questions that resonate with real, common information that people have. Help them fill in the form by asking clear questions, and then providing further clarification with an (i) information button that has examples and jargon-free details. It should mimic a face-to-face assistance experience
  2. They should be focused. Ask one question at a time. Don’t overload a person with tasks. Let them answer questions one-at-a-time, and focus in on getting this one right.
  3. They should be flexible. Let a person jump around. Give them a default flow but then let them skip questions, go back and forward, and save their progress/return later.
  4. They should be smart and automated. It should fill in as many of the fields automatically, based on previous responses and integrations with government databases (that the user gives permission to scrape).
  5. They should show progress. Give the user a sense of where they are in completing the form. Countdown how many things they have left to do. Color code the tasks they have done/yet to do, so they know what type of things that are left. 
  6. They should be transparent. They should how the information relates to what they want to accomplish. Make it clear why it’s being asked, and what the person will accomplish from answering the question.


We are in the middle of sketching out what this can look like on mobile and and on desktop interfaces. They are messy — but here are some sketches!


MargaretHow do we design better form-filling tools? Some design principles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *