Equal Experts is pleased to announce that we are now featured on the Oren Marketplace, a B2B marketplace for the mining sector.
The Oren Marketplace
Now, more than ever, the mining sector is seeking to harness the advantages of technology to both gain efficiencies and adapt as the business and ecological landscape evolves. Oren helps this process by bringing together buyers from the mining sector and showcasing the most innovative – and trusted – solutions in the market, such as Equal Experts’ UX Forms platform.
The Oren Marketplace brings together the very best expertise from Shell and IBM, combining deep industry and technical know-how in a single easy to use solution – see the UX Forms listing. Featuring some of the most advanced and innovative solutions on the market, Oren makes it easy for buyers and sellers to connect while providing opportunities for co-creation and procurement all in one place.
What Equal Experts offers
Equal Experts is looking forward to bringing our products and deep expertise in software development and digital transformation to the mining and industrial sectors. Throughout our thirteen years of global experience, we have honed our craft within complex business, stakeholder and regulated environments. We provide a fresh, simplified approach to challenging situations and needs, using agile techniques to create structure, repeatability, and quality while remaining lightweight and nimble.
What is UX Forms and how can it help in mining and industrial operations?
A joint venture between Equal Experts and developer Martin Gladdish, UX Forms is an enterprise-ready cloud platform for webform development. It provides organizations with powerful tools to create webforms of all types.
Our UX Forms product is particularly suitable for mining and industrial operations and safety processes, offering a way to quickly address pain points within an agenda of transformation.
We find that many customers become overwhelmed with the enormity of transformation, which can act as a paralyzing force. UX Forms helps by offering a simple stepping stone in the transformation process, and guiding clients in their journey.
By starting with UX Forms, any business can begin to digitalize manual and offline processes, quickly. Building forms often becomes an intricate process, consuming design, development and testing resources. This is where UX Forms can provide a simple solution, a way to build low-code forms in a robust, cloud-compatible manner without needing an army of capability to get started. Within hours, complex forms with conditional workflow capability can be built and deployed to the cloud.
UX Forms also directly enables wider data strategies, thus helping to capture and structure data at its source. This data can then be fed into other systems, thus allowing for actionable-insights and data-led decision-making, both of which can lead to improvements in productivity, safety and sustainability for the mining and industrial sectors.
Find Out More About UX Forms
If you need to digitize manual and offline processes quickly, visit the UX Forms website to see how we can help you.
Find Out More About the Oren Marketplace
I was fortunate enough to be involved in a large scale Engineering Practices survey of a FinTec client.
The survey itself was an absolute blast to build but the volume of work that went into the design, building and eventually finding a hosting software for the survey was a real challenge. The survey was designed to target multiple aspects of a team’s “Ways of Working” and “Engineering Practices,” it had to be reusable, and use mathematically based values to determine outcomes.
I eventually settled on using a combination of Google Sheets, Google Forms and Email to execute the survey. This combination proved to be quite effective, albeit limited in customisation and onerous in execution. The results, however, spoke for itself, quality data, with good response rates and analytics. It was a pretty awesome survey and I shared this experience with my fellow Equal Experts colleagues.
Things get wild with UX Forms!
This is when I first met Martin Gladdish and Kevin Gray from UX Forms, I didn’t know it then, but it was about to get wild! You could almost say Martin was “Gladdish” to read the blog post I created and posted this comment:
Always good to hear how others are putting forms together.
Did you also know that EE has its own forms tool? https://uxforms.com that can be used for surveys like this and so much more. In fact, given we have a google sheet integration built-in already, you can build finely tailored surveys in no time without the restrictions on UI widgets imposed by Google Forms.
And we’re always keen to hear about associates working on forms – we’ve even been helping another team within EE get their own form up and running exactly the way they want it. The more cross-pollination between teams the better!
This comment was enough to spark mutual curiosity, and we soon set up a zoom call to chat about what I had done and what they do. To say the least, I was blown away. Don’t get me wrong, what I did worked really well and I am still very proud of that work. I know what I’m talking about because I was the CTO for a software startup that specialised in this sort of software and application. I’ve used and tested most mainstream survey tools out there. But what UX Forms bring to this game blows my efforts out of the water, in a really, really good way.
Understanding the value of access and reusability:
What I had built was good, it was hard to run, and required vast amounts of manual effort to collate data, but it got the result I needed. Almost everything I did manually, UX Forms do for you, they don’t design graphics, that I still do myself.
The design of UX Forms allows it to be either used as standalone or integrated into existing online platforms. I would need to check with the team on app integration, but on websites, this product integrates with minimal efforts and runs on its own steam.
This gives you legs for days, and because of its plug and plays nature you can add and remove a UX Form at will. This means I could have easily done both a stand-alone or plugged the UX Form into the client’s intranet portal with minimal effort vastly increasing my reach and reusability. Having the UX Form designed based on my survey question in Google Sheets, because they can consume Google Sheets meant I wouldn’t have to rebuild everything I had designed. I could just let the UX Form consume it. This cuts down on rework and means my questions also become highly reusable and I could easily change the subsets of questions a UX Form would be using with little to no hassle at all. This means course correction in a survey is effortless. Priceless when you know how bad it is that a survey has a mistake in it.
The power of relatively infinite configuration and built-in reporting:
Where I was left with the limited series of configuration options that Google Forms provide. I was simply astonished how easy and to what extent you can configure a UX Form.
In fairness, Google Forms was designed for drag and drop “What You See is What You Get” interactions. UX Forms does involve configuration at what many people would consider a “code” level. This is both the price we pay for more control but further, we have to understand that UX Forms is a vastly more flexible beast that Google Forms and many other survey tools I have used over the years is.
UX Forms in my mind is not designed to be a pickup and throw away tool it’s designed to be part of your ecosystem flexing itself into different applications. I saw it as a brilliant survey tool, but what is a survey really? It’s nothing more than a form filled with questions. This concept can be applied to so many different ecosystems and applications. You could easily use UX Forms to update your outdated user profiles or collect new information. As a registration and check-in system or a training module provider.
Coupled with their out of the box reporting capabilities and data export functionality, it becomes super simple to get a birds-eye view on results and data. You still have the option to grab the raw data and deep dive to your heart’s content.
What has UX Forms really done?
The options are really endless because UX Forms puts the power to build the forms you need right into your hands within your full control at all times. The setup and consumption of forms are so rapid that what used to take companies weeks or even months to build and release to a production environment can now be done in hours or days. The only thing that will ever hold you back is how fast you can provide content, everything else runs fast, smooth and with minimal effort.
I know from experience that Martin and Kevin are always happy to talk to anyone about UX Forms. This isn’t done to sell a product. They genuinely want to learn from people and their experiences so they can improve the UXForms product for everyone who shares in its amazing capabilities. Please reach out to them and see how they change your world!
Introduction: All the Pieces Matter
Web forms allow users to share information with an organisation in a structured way, be it placing an order, making a request, or even offering an opinion. Good forms create positive relationships between the form maker and those filling it in.
On the flip side, complex and confusing web forms create negative experiences, with significant consequences. Some statistics bear this out:
- It takes 0.05 seconds for web users to form an opinion about what they’re looking at
- 38% of people will disengage from a website if the content is uninteresting
- 88% are unlikely to return to a website after a bad experience
So, when creating a web form, it is vitally important to bear in mind how important it is to get it right.
Over the years, and across hundreds of web forms at different clients, we at UX Forms have noticed certain problems recurring – so in this article, we’re going to share the three most common issues, why they matter, and how they can best be avoided.
First Lesson: The Question
During this post, we’re going to tell the story of how Equal Experts used UX Forms to help build their innovative ‘Strategic Maturity Assessment’ survey, so you can learn from their example, and apply the hard-won lessons to your own web forms in the future.
By way of background, the ‘Strategic Maturity Assessment’ survey helps organisations discover more about their resilience when faced with disruption, and which actions they should take to optimise their chances of success. Across 20 questions, the survey captures the unique characteristics of each organisation, so that the Equal Experts team can create a complimentary, bespoke report for each respondent within 36 hours.
When it comes to questions, good ones are unbiased, simple to understand, and easy to answer. One question the survey makers at Equal Experts wanted to ask was, “How would you describe the pace of change at your organisation?” In the first draft of the questionnaire, the following options were given, to represent the high end of the spectrum:
Relentless – things change so often things never are given time to settle
High-paced – things change frequently, often without warning
When testing their questions with potential respondents, the Equal Experts team gathered feedback, epitomised by the following: “I interpreted the first two choices as negative. In some organisations, relentless change is part of what makes the company successful, whereas I interpreted the choices as what an employee would say if they were struggling to keep up.”
In essence, the question was (deliberately or not), ‘leading the witness’ by associating high speed of change with negative emotions. The advice from the UX Forms team was to change the options, so that they provided respondents with the ability to describe extremely fast and frequent change in a neutral way:
Second Lesson: The UI Elements
Another question in the original draft of the Strategic Maturity Assessment survey was: “What is your typical approach to developing new products and/or services?”, with a free text box left open for the respondent to provide their answer.
This immediately raised a red flag with the UX Forms team, who knew that free text boxes would create a significant challenge at scale. In particular, the accurate and speedy analysis of free text answers within 36 hours would likely prove impossible.
Again, through testing the question with users, the UX Forms team was able to help provide guidance on multiple choice options – radically simplifying the analysis whilst ensuring that respondents had a strong range of options from which to choose:
Third Lesson: Survey Structure
With the Strategic Maturity Assessment survey being a relatively long web form (20 questions), the Equal Experts team came to UX Forms with a question about how best to structure the form: should there be one question per page, or should all the questions be on one page?
Typically, the answer is driven by the context: when UX Forms worked with Caredoc in Ireland, designing a web form to help call handlers capture information from callers with suspected Covid-19 symptoms, it made sense to have the entire form on one page. This was due to the fact that the information was typically shared in a non-linear fashion, and to have to navigate between pages to find the right question that matched the information being presented would have been frustrating and inefficient. In addition, the call handlers are domain experts, using the same form all day, every day. They didn’t need to be guided through an unfamiliar process – they simply needed the most efficient way of capturing all of the information passed to them in a phone conversation.
The question of which approach would maximise the number of completed forms could only be answered through user testing – by building two different versions of the form, randomising which link was sent out, and measuring the impact on response rate and completion. Being guided by evidence from the user is always the best way to go.
As the team at Equal Experts learned, designing effective web forms is hard, and it’s all too easy to trip up over common mistakes. Our best advice is to test, test and test with your users – and note that every form deployed to UX Forms automatically gets its own dashboard which provides real-time analysis on how people are using each form, which is ideal for measuring the effectiveness of changes implemented as a result of user-led research sessions across the service’s entire cohort. Listen to feedback, keep an eye out for areas of spontaneous consensus, and take action. Then test again! And, if possible, seek out the advice of web form experts, who’ve been through this hundreds of times, and can offer you the benefit of their hard-won wisdom.
We’re really pleased with how our Strategic Maturity Assessment form turned out. If you have any questions for us at UX Forms, don’t hesitate to drop us a line – we’d be happy to hear from you!
When building a new web form, you won’t find the perfect solution first time. That’s why we always urge our partners to test their ideas with users, so that feedback can be gathered quickly and easily, and any problems solved efficiently.
The best way to collect actionable feedback is to make your ideas real – but that doesn’t mean investing upfront in a fully Production-ready form. You start with a prototype.
However, some webform building tools have made it harder than it should be to move from prototype to production. Indeed, the process often involves two completely separate tools, and negotiating the jump between them means delays, and avoidable costs. In our opinion, you should not have to throw away all the work that goes into building a good prototype when moving to your final, user-facing webform.
Here’s how the team at UX Forms solved this problem.
As a rule during testing, the closer the prototype looks and behaves to the final outcome, the better. That means using a design system.
At the headline level, a design system includes three main elements:
- styles (typography and colours)
- components (question types, tables)
- patterns (common tasks, like entering contact details)
UX Forms understands that UK government departments need to base their services on the Government Digital Service (GDS) design system, and that’s why we implemented it from day one. This means that even at the prototyping stage, all the branding and thinking used to create the GDS design system is present and correct. Adhering to the design system from the start minimises the risk of wasted time and effort, as the system makes it much harder to introduce rogue elements that fail to conform to GDS standards, and would only have to be removed later.
Instead of getting bogged down in code, or trying to introduce styles, the prototype web form design stage becomes a question of creative problem-solving. With all the building blocks already defined, the challenge is how best to order them, to build your service. As with a pile of Lego, your team is free to assemble tried-and-tested pieces into interesting and effective combinations – whilst enabling you to try out bespoke elements and styles where needed.
Mind the gap
Prototyping tools are focused on being quick and cheap to change, whereas production platforms are about being robust. At UX Forms, we started by asking: why production systems couldn’t be every bit as quick and cheap to change as prototyping tools?
As we touched on above, if you’ve decided to use a prototyping framework that doesn’t support GDS’s template language, then you’ll have to start from scratch. That is expensive and time-consuming, and still ends up being thrown away when it comes to building the production-ready version. That’s why we urge our partners to build their prototypes in the same system as the one that will deliver the final outcome.
With UX Forms, whilst we started with GDS’s GOV.UK Elements, our aim was always to ensure that UX Forms remained design system-agnostic. If a design system can be implemented in html, then it can be implemented in UX Forms. That means that over the years we have built up a library of design systems that our customers can use to quickly create an illustrative first cut of a webform. They do so safe in the knowledge that the components have been rigorously tested, will work well and look good, and are compliant with Accessibility standards.
Our approach is perfect for Delivery teams who want to move quickly without having to write and test a lot of code. Instead, they simply pick and mix from a range of pre-existing components, which they can rapidly test with real users. Once they’re ready to convert to the production-ready webform, all they have ahead of them is a small step, not a giant leap.
Interested in learning more?
If you have plans for new webforms and are interested in learning more about our approach, check out our website. And If you have any questions for us at UX Forms, don’t hesitate to drop us a line – we’d be happy to hear from you!
To Build, or to Buy, that is the question…
In a recent blog post, Reda Hmeid talked about a common area for discussion when embarking on a new project for a client: “Should we buy, or should we build?”. Reda concluded that it’s rarely a question of build or buy – almost invariably it’s how best to build and buy.
Having talked about this principle in general terms, in this post we focus on the same question but for a specific component – forms.
Forms are a huge part of how we interact with the web. Sometimes it’s obvious (‘we’d love your feedback, please complete this questionnaire…’) but very often you won’t even be aware that you’re completing a form. Every time you log in, comment on a blog, send a tweet – almost any time you enter information into a web page, you’re actually completing a form.
Once a form has been designed, tested and implemented in an accessible way, something has to happen with information once it’s been provided by users – and whatever those actions are, they must be secure and reliable.
The business of deploying web forms is often highly complex, and due to their ubiquity in the market, they are essentially commodities. That is to say, building your own from scratch would be a lot of hard work, expensive, and full of nasty bugs you discover along the way – and ultimately, would never provide you with a lasting competitive advantage. Which is why the Equal Experts approach for this aspect of most client implementations is to buy rather than build. More specifically, it’s to buy UX Forms.
In this post, I’ll explain why.
The sweet spot
UX Forms is the product of a joint venture between myself and Equal Experts, which exists as a result of my time working at the Home Office, as a consultant. If ever there’s a clear need for sophisticated, secure, accessible and robust, webforms, it’s within Government departments. Based on my experiences, I was convinced the desired outcomes could be achieved in a smarter way.
UX Forms is an enterprise-ready cloud platform for webform development, which makes designing, publishing, monitoring and updating webforms (of all kinds) simple. There were other form-building tools of course, ranging between simple to forbiddingly technical. None of the existing solutions met the needs of the environment I was working in.
It makes sense for many clients to let a third party take on the burden of responsibility for ensuring 24/7 availability, presenting analytics, and providing high-levels of security – as well as providing ongoing support. That said, if a client’s needs are simple, predictable and stable there are WYSIWYG builders in abundance – easy for anyone to use, but limited when designing forms for complex scenarios.
But – if a client’s needs are complex, unpredictable and evolving – they typically face two choices: highly technical toolkits with the power to deploy sophisticated forms, but comprehensible only to a programmer; or bespoke builds from scratch. Even trying to adapt existing frameworks and libraries tends to become expensive and time-consuming.
That’s why we made sure that UX Forms is sophisticated enough to handle challenging scenarios, compliant when it comes to security and accessibility standards and intuitive to use – that, we believe, is the sweet spot.
Different, and better
UX Forms is a powerful toolset which takes care of the technology and functionality that’s common to any webform implementation: hosted; secure; easily tailored; fully customisable; test-ready; dynamic forms with seamless integration to websites and external systems. It also includes a comprehensive suite of built-in analytics.
But here’s where our original ‘build or buy’ question comes into play. Buying UX Forms doesn’t necessarily remove the need to build. What it actually does is enable the client to focus on building the logic that’s unique to them – the stuff that makes the organisation different, and better.
This could be anything – a distinctive customer interface or customer journey, special data processing routines – there’s no limit on what we can build on the back of UX Forms.
In my view, this is exactly where the concept of build and buy prompts the right questions – questions that are interesting and challenging – and helps us navigate towards where the most valuable answers are.
Click here to find out more and how UX Forms can help you.
Caredoc is an out-of-hours healthcare service for Irish citizens with urgent medical problems who need to contact a doctor outside of surgery hours.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of concerned citizens have contacted the Health Service Executive (HSE) to ask for advice on their symptoms. Caredoc’s clinicians were tasked with triaging these calls and phoning back citizens with suspected COVID-19 symptoms to further evaluate their condition and consider the next steps.
This was a brand-new service that needed to be designed and launched under extreme and extremely urgent circumstances. There were no support systems in place. Caredoc required assurance that every incoming call was followed up on and that the outcome of each call was logged and reported in a comprehensive and consistent way.
Without a supporting IT system, Caredoc needed help – and that was when they approached UX Forms.
The task was to implement an internal system that enabled call handlers to log incoming calls and allocate them to the right clinicians to follow up, whilst ensuring that all calls and outcomes were tracked and monitored in such a way that would allow for rapid and comprehensive analysis. The UX Forms solution eliminated manual administrative and reconciliation work, minimising errors whilst also enabling patient enquiries to be resolved more quickly.
In just a single day, a UX Forms consultant built a production-ready system complete with shareable call logs, access control, automated notification emails, and two dedicated forms – one for the initial call handlers, and the other for clinician follow-ups. The next day, the service passed into production, and since then, UX Forms have been working closely with Caredoc to evolve the solution as the needs of the service are evolving fast.
Michelle Kearns, CIO of Caredoc, said, “UX Forms has changed the way we work. The form saved us two hours of tedious work every day. It also sped up the process for the telephone triage nurses. They were able to document their notes more speedily and effectively, including structured data items and automated email processes. This led to a greater throughput of patients, which meant patients were dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.”
Martin Gladdish, MD of UX Forms, said, “We are humbled to be able to help a vital service during a time of need and to make a positive difference during these difficult times.”
UX Forms is a joint venture between Equal Experts and developer Martin Gladdish (himself a former EE Associate). It is a simple yet comprehensive software package that provides organisations of all sizes with a suite of powerful tools to create webforms of any type.
UX Forms is available to UK public sector customers via the government’s digital marketplace. Private sector customers or international public sector clients should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more at the official UX Forms website.