You've probably had the 'opportunity' to fill out a million online forms. They're everywhere, and for most people it's not enough anymore to be entered to win a free t-shirt for your efforts. Like all of the other overloaded aspects of online life--junk email, obnoxious popups, pages with more ads than content, forms are crowding in on us.
So we were excited by the challenge of creating a long, involved form for an online research study for MIT's AgeLab. No, really, we were. Because instead of an eye-crossing page of checkboxes and text fields we created a 'build-your-ideal-doctor' (or financial advisor) drag and drop game. Instead of checking boxes in a page stacked full of questions, respondents picked from pictures of clothes, cars, offices, and so on. When they had picked all of their preferences a picture of their assembled doctor, as well as loads of related information (dress style, transportation mode, office type, technologies used, etc) showed as a screen full of stylized illustrations. Easy, colorful and fun, and definitely not a 'form'.
In its first run, the game generated a huge amount of data from a great number of visitors--a big success, and proof that with creativity and a valid strategy, valuable information can be gained from an online tool that doesn't come across as yet another long, dull form.