Online mortgage applications are unnecessarily difficult for users, thanks to the sheer pain of completing forms. 

Problems included the use of technical language in forms, needless questions, while serious usability issues prevented many testers from completing applications. 

A report from Whatusersdo looks at the online mortgage application journey for 10 major UK providers, and finds plenty of room for improvement. 

Some of the key findings: 

  • Only 5% of those consumers who participated had a ‘frictionless’ online mortgage application journey.
  • Application forms were at best difficult or annoying and some simply did not work.
  • More than 50% of users struggled to make sense of the mortgage rates presented.
  • Four of the ten providers did not support online mortgage applications at all.

The trouble with forms…

Web forms can be a real pain, and are therefore a common stumbling block for users. 

A checkout form can be provide enough pain points, and all that’s asked of users is address and payment details.

When forms are longer for things like insurance and mortgages there is even more potential for frustrating users. 

For example, a look at the home insurance process found that issues related to forms were the biggest barriers to customers finding quotes. 

It seems that online mortgages are no different. Here are some of the issues identified: 

Interface problems

Halifax (and therefore Bank of Scotland) had a huge usability problem in its form.  

Users were only able to fill in step 3 only using the keyboard as the interface didn’t respond to mouse clicks.

Out of 12 users that got to that step, only two were able to complete the application, one for each bank.

Making date entry harder than it needs to be

Here, users have to enter dates separated by a dash, which just makes more work for users.

It’s not an insurmountable barrier, but the key to form optimisation is making data entry as easy as it can possibly be. 

A better way would be to require numbers only, by separating the fields, as direct line does here: 

Captchas on forms

This really is an unnecessary barrier, and one which risks deterring people even before they have started to complete the form. 

Poor form design 

The tester in this video really struggle with the Halifax application process thanks to the form design: 

Unclear information

Here the tester is unsure where to go next having already entered their details a number of times. 

This infographic summarises the issues uncovered in the report (click image for larger version):

  

You can download a copy of the full report here