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Structuring your interview

Structuring your guided interview

We have found that a guided interview needs the following overall structure:

  1. an introduction screen
  2. a screen that tells users what to expect and what they need to know or have before starting to answer questions
  3. a screen or series of screens that tells the user if they qualify to use the form
    • include a clear exit message if the user does not qualify to use the form
  4. screens asking for basic information, such as name and address
  5. screens that let the user ask for what they need from the court and tell their substantive story
  6. a preview screen where the user can review their work and correct mistakes
  7. a signature screen
  8. a clear ending screen that allows the user to:
    • download the form
    • understand how to file the form with the court
    • understand how to serve the other party

Start with an intro screen

Your interview should start with a short screen that identifies the interview, gives the user context, and tells them anything that they need to have in front of them before they begin.

Keep screening questions early in the interview

Screening questions are questions that tell the user if they are using the right app. You want your user to answer as few questions as possible before you screen them out of the interview to avoid wasting their time.

Group similar questions together

Ask for similar information at a similar time and in a logical order in your interview. Try to approximate the way you would ask those questions in a face-to-face interview.

Placing your form in context to a larger process

In addition the content in the interview itself, a guided interview should also have:

  1. a landing page that gives users context before they click a link to start the interview
  2. help at appropriate points inside the interview that allows users to answer questions with confidence
  3. a document they can print and take with them that tells them what to do after they have finished using the website, which we call a "next steps" document.

Add navigation

All but the shortest interviews should also include some way to tell the user how long the process will take and where they are in the process.

Use navigation sections with clear titles that give the user these cues.

For example, consider the navigation for a hypothetical form that allows a user to request the court to waive fees:

  1. Introduction
  2. Can I get a fee waiver?
  3. My name
  4. My claim/defenses
  5. My information
  6. Information about the other side
  7. Review
  8. Signature
  9. Download and next steps

In a HotDocs interview, these sections will correspond 1 to 1 to pages and titles of pages in the interview. In Docassemble, you must add these sections separately.

In a Docassemble interview, consider using the sections to allow the user to edit and review their answers as they use the interview. This requires additional work but may build the user's confience as they use your website.

Use signposting on longer interviews

On longer interviews, it may not be enough to use the sections on the left to orient the user.

One way to orient the user is to use "signposts". Signposts are screens that do not ask any questions but simply tell the user what questions are coming next.

Consider adding signposts:

  1. on longer interviews to remind the user that they are making progress
  2. to tell the user when they are about to ask questions about a very different topic
  3. to give the user a chance to reflect on the answers that they gave in another long section and to correct any mistakes before continuing down a long new branch of questions
  4. when the user may be getting tired, especially to let them know that they are close to finishing

On very short interviews, signposts may not be needed.

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Get the questions in order