Simplification of public forms
Simplification of public forms is important to improve communication between the users and the public sector. The proceeding transition to electronic reporting may be an important simplification measure for the respondents, but only if the Internet-based solutions are felt to be more user friendly than the old paper versions. By applying good pedagogical principles, electronic forms may also ensure a better understanding of the task, better control of the data before submission, and by that even better response quality and more efficient processing by the relevant authority.
As early as the summer of 2000, an interdisciplinary reference group on electronic reporting initiated the ELMER Project. The Project followed six enterprises over the period of one year in order to map out their reporting duties, and test simple solutions for electronic reporting based on familiar technology.
Among other things, the ELMER Project presented an example for design of a complex web form. First and foremost the example should demonstrate that the use of simple Internet technology opens up for new pedagogical opportunities which may make reporting to governmental authorities a lot easier.
In 2005 the ELMER 2 Project has developed the example towards a comprehensive set of principles and specifications for the design of Internet-based forms. Business organisations, governmental bodies, usability experts and form developers were invited to submit suggestions and to take part in debates during the process. Open workshops were held, and a number of authorities and experts have written, read and commented contributions posted on the Internet discussion forum.
ELMER 2 has evolved through co-operation between very competent enterprises and experts. All in all, they have brought with them unique experiences from designing different forms for several agencies and suppliers, from the reception and use of the same forms by the inquirer, and from usability testing of ELMER1-based and other electronic forms in varied user groups.