Goodbye forms. You had a great run, but all good runs come to an end -- and yours is long past due.
Like Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile, you were the greatest in your day. But now, like Lance Armstrong’s stronghold on the Tour de France, you’ve run out of steroids. I know you didn’t cheat to get where you are. It’s just that no one challenged you. No one dared to look you in the eye and say, “Your onslaught of crappy user experience on the masses must be stopped.”
You were a paper champion, and all paper champions go down when they get into a real fight.
It’s simple evolution. You’re the horse and buggy in a world of Teslas. You never evolved. But you get credit for being everywhere. Your utility was never in doubt -- the online world needed you badly. You knew that and took advantage. And what did you do with all that power? You got lazy. You got arrogant.
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Instead of making people feel more productive, you wasted their time and frustrated billions in the process. Yup, billions with a capital “B”. Cue Dr. Evil.
Remember what you said to me when we first met?
Date of birth:
Name? Phone number? Date of birth? Who talks like that? No wonder you got rejected so often and completion rates plummeted. It’s not rocket science.
But you were just getting started. When I wasn’t pulling my hair out completing that online job application, you found other ways to harass me. Sometimes filling out a simple survey ended with “noooooooo…!” Is that how you want to be remembered? Is this your legacy?
It’s gotten so bad that people turned their back when they saw you. You quickly became that guy. “Oh no, not him again.” Like that time Jared Spool wrote about how customers' resistance to online forms cost one company over $300 million dollars. Yup, now you’re a liability too.
Then smartphones came along, and you really lost it. In the last survey I took -- as if the questions weren’t difficult enough -- you found a way to make me pinch-wide every few questions. Remember that time in Madrid’s airport? You made me tap on a radio button 11 times until I finally hit the right one just to get WiFi. It's like you’re not even trying anymore.
And remember that t-shirt I wanted? Remember how you made me click twice on the “submit your order” button that never went through? Then the page refreshed, and I had to fill in those 15 fields -- not once, not twice, but three more times!
Let me get this straight. I’m expected go out of my way just so I can have the privilege of giving you my personal information? The gall. It’s not just me. Luke Wroblewski wrote a book critiquing you, titled Web Form Design. You wanna know the first thing he said about you? Chapter One, paragraph one, sentence one?
Not a glowing endorsement. Although Wroblewski gave you lots of excellent advice, you simply ignored most of it. You knew the online world had to go through you, but you didn’t seem to care. You became a necessary evil, like paying taxes. You’re that shot in the arse that vaccinates people from some crippling disease. You’re that crappy WiFi from an even crappier, over-priced internet service provider.
But all bad things must come to an end. Your reign of terror is finally over. Think we won’t get along without you? Ha! I’m sure we’ll find something.
But today, we celebrate. We celebrate your contribution. It was significant, I’ll give you that. We celebrate your legacy. We put up with you for a very long time, but you did some good early on. We celebrate your persistence and tenacity -- and wonder how in this world did you survive this long?. And most of all, we celebrate your slow descent to irrelevance.
So to you, Mr. Forms R.A. Bore -- good riddance.