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If you're like me, and it's been awhile since you were 12 and sitting in the backseat of your parents' car, chances are you haven't thought about Mad Libs for awhile. But there are a few people who have been implementing Mad Libs-style forms on their websites.

And early results are showing that in addition to bringing back childhood memories, they are also effective. Up to 40% more effective to be exact.

Luke Wroblewski, chief design architect at Yahoo! Inc., has written up a post on the subject on his blog. Working with vertical search platform Vast.com, Wroblewski set out to find out how these forms performed compared to standard forms:

Vast and Kelley Blue Book are among the sites that now employ this sort of form. After running some A/B testing on the traditional form versus the narrated format, they found that Mad Libs-style forms increased completion rates by 25 to 40%.

According to Wroblewski:

"Most of the input fields have stayed the same but the "comments" text area has been replaced by a "personalize this message link" and the phone number set of three input fields has been replaced a single flexible input. While it's possible these adjustments also contributed to the increase, it's unlikely they were solely responsible for it. As a result, the mad libs layout likely had an impact as well."

It makes sense that it would. A form like this takes some of the guesswork out of communicating with a business — in the case of the example above, a car seller.

Even if a task isn't particularly difficult, any simplification can encourage completion — especially if it presents the same number of options as before. Also, presenting a little bit of a human touch can't hurt. 

Rustin Jessen, who runs Magic in Type, created a similar form for his website and explains his motivation for using this format like this:

"I spend my day working for a huge global company with email at the center of our communication universe. Email is a way of life in our business, it just sort of comes with the territory. This, in and of itself, is not a problem for me. The problem is that a vast majority of people in this universe have no idea how to send an effective email. I may go into more specifics on this another time… but for now let’s call this enough information to understand why I styled my contact form this way."

Images: HuffDuffer, LukeW

Meghan Keane

Published 25 February, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

Comments (4)



I absolutely love this - so logical and simple, from database to HUMAN - we will adapt this on our own sites asap...

over 6 years ago

Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne, Producer at eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit

You might also try to make this sort of thing more 
     [  ]  compelling
     [  ]  effective
     [  ]  fun
by giving pepole multiple choice options in between telling you that their name is [firstname]  [lastname] and that they really prefer [dessert] with thier [favorite meal].

over 6 years ago

Meghan Keane

Meghan Keane, US Editor at Econsultancy

Ha. Good call Jim.

over 6 years ago


Ross Page

Great stuff, Thank you! I'm just in the middle of creating a workshop registration web page, so it was good timing. So... is there somewhere I can get a formbuilder that will do this?

over 6 years ago

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