26 December 2010 ~ 0 Comments

A Fighting Chance

Pokin and I are frequent users of Priceline.  Being 45 minutes from LA and a bit over an hour from Seattle, we head down (and up) a few times a year.  We’re savvy enough travelers that we can get Priceline to give us decent deals in great locations.  After each stay, we receive an email from Priceline asking us to rate the  hotel.  That link takes you to a page that looks like this:

The first visible page of the form contains 92 radio buttons.  Across the three screen-fulls of this form there are a total of 125 controls for 25 questions.

When faced with a wall of controls like this, I feel overwhelmed.  I mentally switch off for a few reasons:

  • There’s a disconnect between when I expected and what I received when I followed the link.  When I click that link I’m expecting a tight query for my thoughts on the Hotel Andra.  Instead there is (for example) a question about whether or not I’d recommend Priceline.

Take this feedback form from OpenTable.  Note the use of background contrast to indicate which section is important/requred.

Back to Priceline:

  • They’re asking for questions that make their lives easier, yet have nothing to do with my desire to giving feedback.  These questions are so that my input can more easily fit into the various slots on the Priceline website where it’s likely to appear.  In addition to asking for my time to make their website more valuable, they’re asking me for additional time to make it easier for them to do so.  For example:
    • “Tell us something you liked about this hotel in 20 words or less.”
    • “Tell us something you did not like about this hotel in 20 words or less.”
  • I  notice that the “on a scale of 1 to 10…” style of rating, which is far too granular.  How can I choose between 6 and 7?  Or 2 and 3?  It’s easier (and faster) for me to make gross assessments like the difference between a 5 and a 10.  They’ve decreased the chances they’ll get anything because of analysis paralysis – there’s too many notches on that scale.

If Priceline wants to increase the chance that I’ll fill this out, how about a bit of progressive disclosure?

Progressive disclosure is an interaction design technique that sequences information and actions across several screens in order to reduce feelings of overwhelm for the user. By disclosing information progressively, you reveal only the essentials and help the user manage the complexity of feature-rich sites or applications.

There are two questions here worth answering, or at least the two that I’d like to answer:

  • Rate your overall experience at the hotel
  • Write a short review

How about starting with those, and giving me a reason to keep going?  Here’s a quick suggestion:

By prompting with the shorter version to start, you increase the chance you’ll get any feedback at all and you’re giving people a reason to continue.  Instead of monetary incentives, you can use social prompting as well, e.g. “The more you tell us, the more you help other travelers like yourself!”

If Priceline’s desire is to capture as much feedback as possible, I suggest they start small and stick with sound principles to decrease abandonment and give their users (and themselves) a fighting chance when faced with such a daunting form.

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