ProTip Tuesday #16: Shorter is not Always Simpler

When designing registration forms or checkout flows, one thing you will often hear in UX is that you should reduce the number of pages in the flow. This is true. Sort of.


A simpler form/flow is usually shorter than a complicated one. But we must keep in mind that we are trying to make it simpler, not just shorter.

Sometimes a form/flow has logical breaks that should be separated. For example, your personal information and the contents of your order might be clearer and simpler if they are on different pages.

Especially if you make a mistake and have to find it after you click “continue” and get an error.

Another thing to consider is that many people don’t finish a registration/checkout process, and if we let them submit at key points, we can save that (potentially useful) information.

Once upon a time I designed a registration form that was three drop-down selections. That’s it.

Needless to say, it looked really simple.

Although I loved how tiny it was, sadly, it didn’t perform very well.

When I added titles, help text, and numbered steps, and made it more WYSIWYG it was 300% longer, but 100% more people finished the long version. Adding useful information made the form simpler, and longer at the same time.

In short, focus your attention on making things simpler (easier), and if that also means making it shorter, great! If not, great! As long as your form is as easy as possible it doesn’t matter if it has 1 page or 10 pages.

…and that’s why shorter is not always simpler.

Have a great week!


If you liked this ProTip, try ProTip Tuesday #17: Research is Questions, Not Confirmation.

Or Go to the ProTip List!