It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it…

UX form design

…and that’s what gets results.


Here, at Global Reviews, we are always looking for ways to help our clients optimise their digital customer experience, from switching energy providers, applying for new bank account, or getting a quote for health or car insurance. The client result: insights that increase their bottom line.

One way of doing this is by making sure that the path to purchase is as easy as possible. In this blog I will focus specifically on form design.

In the last 18 months, Global Reviews has run over 60 studies that tested forms from over 300 brands, across a diverse range of industries such as, insurance, energy, higher education and finance, from brands in the UK, Australia, Canada and Ireland. From this research, we have found that there are four key stages to successful form design:

  1. Preparing for purchase
  2. Form features and functions
  3. Form Help and support
  4. Completing the purchase

Preparing for purchase

This is all about upfront expectation setting. Here are a few examples:


  • tell me I don’t qualify for this when I’m right in the middle of process
  • tell me it’s going to take three minutes when it’s closer to seven
  • leave me guessing as to what’s involved and what you might be asking me
  • tell me what I need to have when I need to have it


  • communicate eligibility criteria
  • be accurate with the amount of time it’s going to take
  • clearly explain the process and what will happen next
  • communicate upfront the information I need to have to complete the process

Form features and functions

This is all about the features and functions, the design patterns, that users will interact with. Firstly, we have the framework that the form components themselves reside in, for example:

  • Multiple steps
  • Single page
  • Progressive reveal
  • Conversation design

These aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but our tests show that some resonate better than others. Increasingly we are seeing many industries moving to a conversational design pattern in a bid to better match a product to user’s needs. This pattern was largely driven by legislative changes but increasingly business is realising it’s not about what products they have, it’s about whether I, the consumer, can get what I need with their products.

Then we have the components themselves, which interaction design pattern is better for example, when inputting the date of birth. While our studies don’t go down to testing this level of detail, we do review the forms of those who have high success, confidence and satisfaction scores, analyse what they are doing and compare them to brands who don’t perform as well.

Form help and support

This is all about how you promote self-service, provide interventions and give confidence to the user so that they continue forward. It covers areas such as error handling, security and privacy, help channels and exit strategies. It is often overlooked but can be the difference between someone competing that purchase or abandoning midway.


Completing the purchase

This is all about encouraging completion on the results page. Too often this page is overlooked and opportunities are missed to ensure that the user doesn’t abandon at this stage. There are a number of best practice approaches to increase the chances of conversion, such as:

  • Keep initial information simple but enable users to access further detail
  • Recall the benefits of applying online
  • Provide content which improves the perception of value
  • Cater to prospects who won’t buy online

From those studies there are a number of brands that stand out when it comes to designing forms. They do so because they have carefully designed their path to purchase so that it meets the criteria of those stages.  Here are some examples of how those brands are creating a better experience.

Preparing for purchase – Bank of Montreal, Canada

Bank of Montreal is a top performer, achieving 100% for features and functions for ‘Preparing to purchase’.

  1. Highlights brand differentiators
  2. Promotes reasons to choose the online channel to apply
  3. Caters to different audience needs
  4. Highlights benefits and reasons to choose the brandPreparing for purchase BMO

Form Function – Sonnet, Canada

Sonnet almost presents a one page form, the primary page captures key personal and product information, which is then prefilled into a second page with one or two extra questions. The prefilling of questions drives a quick and easy experience.

  1. Sonnet use only four free text questions in the entire journey. The majority of question types present are drop down, single select questions
  2. The second page presents 7 questions, 5 of which are prefilled based on previous answers

Form Function – Sonnet

Form Help and Support – Beagle Street, UK

Beagle Street provide integrated help and support during their quote process.

  1. Help and support content is tailored to the specific area of enquiry. Here, where users may want a detailed description of the differences in the types of cover, a video is provided is embedded into the help section
  2. A large ‘i’ icon directs users towards any help and support related to the page

Form Help and Support – Beagle Street

Completing the purchase –, Ireland are one of only two providers credited with the ability to view a summary of key information entered.

  1. call out the online savings as a separate price – interestingly, lead with the online saving price leaving the actual price further down the page
  2. provide links to detailed explanation of the product

Completing the purchase –

These are just a small sample of the insights we deliver to clients. If you’d like to know more about how you can optimise your digital experience, please get in touch with us.


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Motor insurance quote forms are too long according to 31% of consumers

motor insurance

The most common issue faced by consumers when applying online for motor insurance revolves around the length of the quote form and how long it took to complete it with 31% reporting it as being a problem.

Two key questions asked by insurance providers are:

  1. How should I set the quote tool?
  2. What is the impact that the layout has on the actual and perceived length of the form?

Essentially, should it be one question per page with a longer click journey or should the form be presented on one long page in an accordion format?

In reviewing the presentation of the quote form including how many questions are asked and how many pages of questions there are – we gained some insight as to what is making consumers more satisfied and likely to complete the form and go on to purchase a policy.

Churchill and Direct Line both use the same quote tool which contains all questions within the one page.  Additionally, there are fewer questions within the quote form than any other site assessed with just 32 questions on a single page required to get a quote compared to LV= and Admiral who have 40 and 48 questions respectively presented across three pages.

Based on the quote experience, consumers were asked their likelihood to buy from a particular brand. Direct Line and Churchill had the highest proportion of consumers stating that they felt the website met their needs and they would choose the brand as their provider at 14% and 10% respectively.

Fewer questions in quote form equal more likely to buy

Despite having the shortest quote forms, consumers on Churchill’s and Direct Line’s websites still held concerns over the length of time the quote took.

View our webinar – Optimising the quote process & improving customer expectations

Covering all aspects of the quote form including the impact different question formats (radio button, drop down, text entry) have on the physical and cognitive effort to complete the form.

For more insights download our FREE industry report.

Motor Insurance quote process

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3 ways banks can learn from other countries, other industries and themselves

Digital Transformation

As a whole, Australian banking websites offer customers a strong online experience, however, there are a few areas where they tend to fall short or at the very least could afford to push themselves further to deliver a stronger experience. Following on from our recent webinar on the same topic, we now give you 3 ways in which banks can learn from other countries, other industries and themselves.


When completing tasks on banking websites, the amount of perceived effort required is far higher on desktop websites in both Australia and the UK than expected on Australian mobile banking websites.

Perceived effort required to complete basic tasks on banking websites

Effort banking

The reason for this variance in perceived effort is in part due to the fact that mobile websites are essentially forced into offering a simpler and more condensed experience as the main website is adapted for a handheld device.

Learning from mobile: Both Westpac and St George utilise drop-down accordions and concise customer needs headings to create responsive site sections for personal loan content. This gives the customer the option to browse more in-depth product information at their own leisure, rather than bombarding them with bulky text. Applying a similar approach to the desktop website could help to improve the visual appeal of a page as well as lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed by too much information – especially in the early stages of research.

Westpac puts a priority on shortening the customer journey to their loan application page through the use of priority buttons. There are also options for both online and phone applications, to cater for a wider portion of customers depending on their preferred application methods.

St George includes related needs images and overviews for loan products, giving customers a quick comparison of products with an option to view more information on an individual product.

Westpac St George mobileTakeaway tip: A lot of brands are focussing their efforts on their mobile site, which in turn means the main desktop site is getting neglected. It is important to schedule time into your development plan so that once the mobile site has been set, the corresponding desktop site can be reviewed to see which shortcuts or condensed content from the mobile site can be applied to the main site.


Understanding fees and charges is the most important element consumers are wanting on a banking website. Whist Australian banks do perform quite well in this area, there are some international banks that go one step further.

Top customer needs on Australian banking websites

Important elements

Learning from international banks: Santander received a 99% effectiveness score for the process of locating interest rate information. This success is helped along by Santander’s fees being easily accessible and transparent on their credit card landing page via use of a highlight red box around the ‘Representative example’ content. This provides the customer with immediate information on fees and rates, including their annual fee.

Additionally, contextual tools and help are displayed within the main navigation which feeds into easy navigation and delivers a sense of security and trust within the brand.

Santandar credit cards

Ally Bank in the US makes their rate for their savings account the hero, boldly presenting it as the starting point for account information, just below a clearly defined customer rating to immediately build trust through transparency and customer advocacy.

Ally also shortens click paths to account rates and fees by keeping a fixed tab menu above the fold on the product page.

Ally bank

Takeaway tip: In addition to observing best practice amongst direct competitors, keeping an eye on the international market can keep you ahead of the game locally.


Arguably one of the main reasons that a consumer visits a website is to learn more about the product range on offer. For banking brands this is the range of accounts, for sports betting brands this is the sports and for universities this is the courses on offer.

Across all of the Australian websites benchmarked by Global Reviews in 2015, it was the sports betting industry that achieved the highest customer experience score. Banking and travel came in at number two, closely followed by tertiary education. Whilst the product may differ from industry to industry, the customer journey essentially remains the same which means there’s no reason why banks cannot learn from other industries as well as their own.

2015 customer effort scores by industry

Industry scores

Learning from other industries: Crownbet clearly defines their main navigation menu through leveraging familiar icons. They also create a quick list navigation menu to the left of the page, to further cut down click paths for customers.


Deakin University achieved a 90% success rate for the behavioural task of finding course information through having clearly defined and prioritised course call-to-action areas on their landing page. DeakinTakeaway tip: It doesn’t matter if you’re a bank, betting agency or university – each of these industries are fundamentally doing the same thing in that they are selling a product/service to customers. So whilst looking at what other banks are doing is important, it is equally important to see what other industries are doing to get a better understanding of the online experiences your prospective customers are getting elsewhere.

As we can see, there’s always someone else Australian banks – or any brand for that matter – can learn from; whether that be themselves, international counterparts or even other industries. Global Reviews is the only place where brands can get a comprehensive view of how they’re performing with best practice insights pulled from all of these areas. Contact us to get these types of insights across your brand so that you can get ahead of the game.

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5 tips to maintain the balance between form vs function

Form vs function

Authors: Lia Purdie & Suzy Coulson

We’ve come a long way from the days of static and even flash powered websites. Dynamic functionality has become an integral part of web design as consumers jump between desktop and mobile devices.

But is this change in website design resulting in an efficient and positive experience for the consumer?

In research conducted by Global Reviews assessing the effectiveness of researching and purchasing goods and services online, it is quite often found that consumers are reaching the correct product pages, but not finding – or realising they found – the information once they get there. This is then leading them to continue fishing through the website in order to find what they’re looking for, thus undermining what could otherwise be positive online experience.

So with that we bring you:

5 tips to maintain the balance between form vs function


  1. Ensure the process and next steps are clear – guide users with verbal and non-verbal communication
    Functionality differing from standard navigation is fine, however it needs to be matched with strong communication to help consumers navigate this new style.
  2. Clearly communicate filtering options and tie back to customer needs and choices
    Dynamic filtering certainly has benefits, but it can only enhance the experience if it’s clearly communicated and understood. If consumers are filtering product options, clearly explain that options are not available due to the users’ selection – consider showing message on hover, dynamically moving to available products, or hiding unavailable options. Explain that you’re eliminating these options to better meet their needs.
  3. Ensure icons do not inhibit message communication
    Excessive use of obscure icons to communicate complicated messages can leave customers confused particularly when it comes to comparing product options. Icons are perfectly fine to use, just be sure additional details are evident and easy to find.
  4. Make access to more details and options to tailor highly visible
    Ensure advanced options and required actions are easily understood and highly visible. Be mindful that customers do want finer details but don’t want to be overwhelmed with information, so be sure to get the balance right.
  5. Balance additional functionality, designers aspirations and ease of use
    Don’t shy away from improved functionality and beautiful websites, but make sure that a good customer experience always trumps sexy and cool!

Embrace additional functionality and your designer’s aspirations, just be sure to balance that with ease of use to maintain the fine line between form and function.5 Tips to Maintain Balance Between Form vs Function


Click the thumbnail for a full size infographic highlighting the 5 tips to maintaining the balance between form vs. function.


For further details on these tip and how they apply to real life websites, view our Health Insurance Webinar recording.


Visit our reports library to download FREE research reports or contact us to find out more about our research programmes.

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Infographic: What prospective students think of Australian University & higher learning websites

Infographic: What prospective students think of Australian University & higher learning websites

Every 6 months Global Reviews measures the Digital Effectiveness of Australian University Websites, from the view of a prospective student.

This infographic shows you how well some of the various Australian higher learning institutions are performing, in terms of Customer Satisfaction and Effort. We also look at the stages of the Digital Journey and where Universities could be compromising their chance of gaining prospective students.

Digital Experience of Australian University & Education Websites

Visit our reports library to purchase the Tertiary prospective student digital experience report, or contact us to find out more about this study.

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Internet Service Providers: Battle of the Commonwealth

Internet Service Providers: Battle of the Commonwealth

In May and November of 2014, Global Reviews ran Digital Sales Effectiveness benchmark studies across 10 internet service provider websites in Australia, New Zealand and UK. Overall, Australian brands performed better than UK and New Zealand brands, with Optus coming out on top as the leader. A similar result to that of the mobile phone provider study that was conducted at the same time.

#1 Optus 62%
#2 Telstra 60%
#3 iiNet 59%
#4 Spark 53%
#5 Vodafone (NZ)
#6 BT 51%
#7 TPG 51%
#8 Compass 51%
#9 EE 50%
#10 Orcon 50%


Despite the variance in scores across for each brand and region, there is a consistency in where along the customer research and purchasing journey the industry as a whole is excelling and where it is falling short. The telecommunication industry is strong in how they introduce their products and how they facilitate a consumer in the checkout, with scores of 67% and 61% respectively for these stages. However, getting from the product options through the decision making to the purchase/checkout stage is quite a sore spot for the industry. On average the industry scores just 37% for helping facilitate a decision and guiding the customer to a means of purchasing.

DSE x country2

This poor score in the crucial phase of the purchasing journey can be detrimental to a brand’s ability to close the sale, not to mention hindering all the marketing efforts used to get consumers to this point. When customers were asked what they would do if they encountered problems on a website when researching and obtaining a new internet service provider, an overwhelming 22% said that they would leave the website and go somewhere else, highlighting just how crucial this step of the sales process is.

When we looked at this further, we found that the customers who said they would leave the website and go elsewhere were more commonly the ones who had just completed tasks on the websites that scored lowest in the digital effectiveness study. From here we found a strong negative correlation (r=-0.798) between a poor website experience and opting to leave the website and go elsewhere if a problem is encountered – as demonstrated in the following graph.DSE vs leave website

What this shows is that if a brand is unable to at least meet the industry average, then customers will go elsewhere to get the service they want and expect. When we’re dealing with internet service providers, the digital experience delivered can make or break a customer’s opinion of the brand. They are not going to want to commit to a brand’s service if they can’t deliver within their own medium.

In a market where prices are so competitive – it’s the experience that could be the differentiator.


Contact us to ensure your website’s experience isn’t losing you customers.

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Usability of health insurance websites drop (so does the desire to use them)

Health Insurance

Author: Suzy Coulson

The health insurance landscape is set to change with the privatisation of Medibank Private. We won’t necessarily see the effects immediately, but it will undoubtedly impact the industry and the general public who use it. While Medibank Private has been supported and protected by the government, this will soon change, which will throw Medibank Private into a new realm of market competition.

Before any changes do come into play, Global Reviews ran a Digital Marketing Effectiveness study to capture the ways in which consumers are currently researching and selecting a health insurance provider. Between November 2013 and November 2014, there have been some notable changes with a drop in brand preferences as well as a shift in the reasons why consumers are considering brands.

Across the top 10 brands for health insurance, only three brands saw an increase in the number of prospective customers putting them on their consideration shortlist, with a combined increase of 12%. This increase doesn’t make up for the combined 41% decrease of the seven other top 10 brands. Of the three brands who had increases, Medibank Private had the biggest lift with 5%. They were followed by GMHBA who increased by 4% and Bupa with 3%. Heading the other way, Australian Unity and HCF suffered the biggest losses, both with a 9% drop, followed by HBF and NIB with a 7% drop.

Along with a drop in brands getting shortlisted, there’s also been a drop across some of the key reasons why brands were selected to be on a shortlist. Previously, the following reasons for shortlisting a brand ranked quite high:

  • The website helped me compare options
  • They gave me plenty of options to choose from
  • Their products/offers were easy to understand
  • Their website helped me find products/services quickly

In this latest study, however, all the above reasons dropped by an average of 9%. Meanwhile, selecting a website that is visually appealing and/or looks easy to use was chosen by consumers on an average increase of 5% from the previous study. So whilst health insurance websites may look better than they did 12 months ago, their usability appears to have suffered because of it.

The Global Reviews Sales Effectiveness benchmark study shows that website functionality has indeed dropped for the health insurance industry. Either that, or consumer expectations have increased. At the same time, the desire to use the websites has also dropped. In 2013 when the benchmark industry average was 51%, 48% of consumers were stating they would want to research policy options, get a quote and purchase the insurance online. Now, in 2014, the benchmark industry average has dropped to 49% and the number of consumers wanting to complete the research through to purchase process online has also dropped, now at 35%. Consequently, as website usability drops, so too does the desire to use it; to the point where having the ability to apply online has dropped from an importance rating of 8.2/10 down to 7.9/10. Considering 17% of consumers would leave a website and look for another provider if they encountered problems, it’s vital to ensure website usability doesn’t continue to drop.

As the dynamic of the health insurance industry faces change with the government letting go of control of one of Australia’s biggest health insurance providers, it marks a vital time for providers to reassess their offerings and the channels in which they deliver that offer. Consumers currently aren’t considering as many providers as they were previously, and research is showing that lacking website usability is contributing to this. Nobody can predict how the industry will be impacted by the privatisation of Medibank Private, so if brands want to secure a leading position in this changing market, then they need to take a look at their websites as this is one variable than they can control.

For information about our upcoming research please contact:

Jane Robertson
Commercial Director
T: +61 3 9982 3417
M: +61 400 560 652

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Don’t cripple your online sales potential with pretty pixels – a real-life case study

The conflict between usability and design has long been the subject of many debates. While we recognise that interface design has come a very long way, the integration between visual interface design and user experience design teams can vary dramatically. It is this disconnect where costly problems can rear their head.

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Betting websites are punting $22 billion on trust – and are losing

Despite the gambling industry broadly being considered untrustworthy, partially due to recent events in the news and its perceived historical links, a 2011 report in the Economist indicated that, on average, every adult Australian loses just under $1300 per year and as a nation we drop $22 billion per year on the punt – nearly five times what we spend on foreign aid.

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7he humb1e Ph0ne Numb3r

So here’s the rub… apparently putting the phone number of your organisation on the web site drives traffic to the call centre – this is according to some of Australia’s leading businesses.

So the argument goes; businesses would prefer to hide the phone number of the call centre, thus making it more difficult for prospects to make contact, because call centre costs are high and web site costs are relatively low. This is compounded when the website is competing with the call centre for sales targets, so the number is removed from the site – because the number drives calls.

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