Asking the right questions

I’ve just been given a form for a chess tournament that my son would like to attend. It’s a classic example of a form that fails to ask the right questions to collect the information that the organisers need.

The flyer asks parents complete the application form and send it in via mail, fax, or email. In the text of the flyer, parents are told to provide their child’s name, rating, date of birth, school, year level, and parent’s contact details. All logical information that the organisers are likely to need.

But the form asks only for name, contact number, and payment details.

There’s a good chance that the majority of forms sent in to register for this tournament will fail to provide the required information – simply because the form doesn’t provide the space for the information to be included.

It’s simple really: if you’re providing people with a form to complete, include on the form a space and relevant question for every bit of information that you want to collect. Putting the request for information in the flyer, and then failing to support it in the form, will simply lead to frustration and extra work. I wonder how many people who attend the chess tournament will either have to fill out a new form on the day, or receive a phone call asking for extra information?