Designing a Usable Entry Form
One area often over looked when designing an effective race application is the entry form. Here are some tips for making your forms user-friendly.
Posted Monday, 29 April, 2002
area often over looked when designing an effective race
application is the entry form. This is the portion of
the application that the race entrant fills in with their
personal data. This information is then entered into a
computer for results processing. If done correctly, results
processing and after race follow-up is a much easier task.
lines - Try to avoid using straight lines for critical information. Lines
allow for too much creativity. Lines (or fill in the blank) allow users to write
in cursive. This can be difficult to read depending on the legibility of the
handwriting so printing is preferable. This is especially true during race day
registration when an entrant in nervous or hurried and will scribble information.
Instead use blocks (see sample
entry form). This way you force the entrant to print, thus saving valuable
time during data entry and reducing the need for name spelling corrections after
the race is over. Also make sure the blocks are large enough to write in. Small
blocks will defeat the purpose of trying to keep the information legible.
clear instructions - It a good idea to point out that
the entry form should be filled in neatly and be complete.
I like to include the following instruction on top of
the entry: "Please print neatly and fill out completely
(entries without age and gender will not be eligible for
age group awards.)". It is surprising the number of
people who neglect to fill in their age and gender. Figuring
out their gender usually is not much of a problem unless
you are dealing with non-gender specific names like Pat
the Vitals - The main part of your application should
ask for first name, last name, address, city, state, zip
code, age and gender. The mailing information is important
if you plan to send this year's entrants an application
for next year's event. Age and gender are important for
age group awards.
the Extras - In today's electronic society email has
become very common. Email address information is worth
gathering for several reasons. First, it will allow you
to send updates on your event to entrants and it will
give you another avenue for marketing future events. Not
everyone has an email address, however almost everyone
has a phone. Gathering phone numbers can be critical if
for example you need to postpone at the last minute. Race
directors in New England are faced with this challenge
divisions - Where applicable special categories (for
example weight divisions and team/club designation) should
be included on the entry form.
of Liability - The content of the waiver varies depending
on a number of variables (municipalities, sponsors, weather
conditions, etc.). There are other factors such as wheelchair
athletes, baby joggers or pets you need to consider. All
this needs to be included in your waiver. The Road Runners
Club of America provides a boilerplate for waiver content. For more information see www.rrca.org. It is also a good idea to check
with your legal council on this matter.
- Do not accept any applications that are not signed.
If the runner is under 18 then a parent or guardian needs
to acknowledge the Waiver of Liability by signing.
Refunds - If you do not intend on giving refunds,
make sure to spell this out on your entry form.