Designing Complex Forms

I’ve been redesigning a complex application process which involves providing detailed personal information, uploading documents and making payments at various stages.

When I started the project I asked twitter for real-world examples and had a great response from a lot of people (some are included below).

This collections of bookmarks contains the things I learnt the most from and some great real-world examples.

A quick summary to designing complex forms

  • Understand why you’re asking the question
  • Don’t ask for information that isn’t going to be used
  • Be specific
  • Doing this well takes a long time, a lot of hard work and involves a lot of people
  • Break forms down into chunks of one thing per page
  • Save user’s progress
  • Display answers as multi-choice options where possible

Real-world examples and demos

[Apply for California Food Stamps](

VA Benefits and Health Care

Look under VA Benefits and Health Care nav (Health Care, Education, and Pension sections in particular “How to apply”)

Benefits Enrollment Application


Best practice and examples of implementation

Discussing a topic map for how to design better a form -

Structuring a complex eligibility form for

You wouldn’t start a conversation by asking for sensitive details about a person — you’d first ask some basic questions that they’d be comfortable answering, like their name.

What I learned in two years of moving government forms online

Over the course of two years, we identified 425 forms and moved 122 of them online. Using a conservative estimate, moving those forms online saved Boston residents just under 10,000 hours. They also made government services much more accessible.

CalFresh Onboarding

Form best practices - CFPB Design Manual

Structuring forms

Structuring a complex eligibility form for

People and organisations

[18F: Digital service deliveryWhat we deliver](