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Validation Issues David Henner Sep 06

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Every time I hear a business guy make a hypothesis about why a form isn't converting customers I ask if they are basing the hypothesis on any real data. Most of the time people take stabs at the wind when they are creating an A/B test. What if there was a better way.

One of the primary reasons a form doesn't convert is because there are issues with validation. Sometimes there is a bad reg-ex. Other times there is a darn "check this box to confirm" that people forget to check. If the form has a validation error too many times the customer leaves your site.

What if you could track the form before A/B testing. If you had the data you could either make an obvious change without the A/B test to begin with. The other alternative could be making an educated guess based off real data.

I now introduce ' Validation Issues '

"Validation Issues" allows you to log all validation errors on a form. It even allows you to log the A version vs the B version of a test. Thus you may find that version A of a form is not converting because The "first Name" field isn't filled out but version B of a form is not converting because "Last Name" is not properly filled out.

If you just did an A/B test without the extra data you might not realize there is a different between the 2 forms. Having the extra data points allows you to understand and act on what is really happening.

Once is set up you can simply do the following in your controller:

def create
  user = User.new(:first_name => '', 
                  :last_name  => 'Good Last Name')
  if user.save
    user.log_successful_validation!('user_form')
    # do something
  else
     user.log_validation_issue!('user_form')
     # do something else(like render the form again)
  end
end

The logsuccessfulvalidation! method will help track the number of times the form has been completed. The logvalidationissue! method will track each of the form's fields that have validation errors.

Then you just need to point your browser to http://www.yoursite.com/validationadmin/validation_issues. If the user has admin privileges they will see the breakdown of the form's performance.

On a separate topic

I am moving to San Francisco in 2-3 weeks. If anyone needs a consultant my rate is $175/hour. Email me at drhenner [at] ror-e.com to start a dialog.


One more note: I've been working for StackSocial in LA. They are hiring Ruby, Front-end and QA engineers at http://jobs.stacksocial.com. These guys power digital commerce for sites like VentureBeat and Cult of Mac. They are good guys.

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