5 More Tips for Improving Online Forms

Laura Schjeldahl  |  June 24, 2015

Haven’t read Top 5 Tips for Improving Online Forms yet? Start there.

Now back for more? Check out the handy tips below.

  1. Highlight optional fields instead of required fields. Why? In a perfect world, all fields on your form would be required. Why would you collect information you didn’t need? In our imperfect reality, the majority of fields on your form should be required. But marking all of them creates clutter and decreases comprehension speed. In fact, a recent article on Formulate made a great point that logins don’t indicate required fields, and those are actually the forms we fill in most frequently.
    • This one is worth repeating from my earlier post: Review existing forms and remove whatever you can. If the data collected is not currently being used, remove it.
    • At the top of the form, include “(optional)” after the form title to illustrate how you will mark non-required fields.
    • After a field label, include “(optional)” just like you promised. Either one of the examples below will work well.

  2. If this is a first point of contact, do not ask for a phone number unless it’s a necessity.
    Many people are online filling out forms for a reason. They don’t want to make (or receive) a phone call. Yes, it might be faster and more personal, but many of us just don’t care. Interacting with other humans is unpredictable. (Frankly, I go miles out of my way to avoid phone calls - and I’m a people person!)

    • Ask for an email address. Most of us are happy to open a message after we submit a form. It’s often waiting in our inbox moments after we click “Send me more information” ... nearly instant gratification! It’s also more cost effective for a business to send an email than to hire someone to make all of those calls.
    • If calling the people filling out your form has to be an option, make it just that - optional. Give people like me a choice to give you my phone number or an email address. I’m still not giving you my phone number, but I’m a lot less likely to abandon the form when there is an email option.

  3. Please don’t make me try to interpret those faded crooked letters and numbers.
    CAPTCHA is the name most people are familiar with for forcing us to try to read images with wacky letter/number combinations to prevent robots from submitting a form. These can be impossible for people with visual disabilities and even difficult for people with 20/20 vision.

  4. Figure out the form filler’s information based on known variables.
    The fewer fields on the form, the more likely it will be completed. Removing just one form field can increase conversions dramatically.

    • Are you asking for a ZIP or postal code and city? Then you can determine the state or province.
    • Did you ask for a coupon code? Then you had the opportunity to embed details about your audience when you sent out different codes to those audiences. Don’t ask for the information you already have. It takes more work up-front, but the ROI can be great.

    What are some other ways to determine user information? Leave a comment if you have an idea.

  5. Your form should be easy to fill out from any mobile device.
    Not to be harsh, but duh. Do I really have to say more? The use of mobile devices is not going to decrease anytime soon. People shop/research/participate in groups using tablets and phones all the time. So, unless you want to lose a large percentage of customers and viewers, make everything work smoothly on mobile.

      How? In addition to developing a fully responsive website, make sure you are doing the following:
    • Follow the tips from part one of this blog, particularly tips 1 and 3. Using a single column form means you are likely most of the way there!
    • Allow users to enter information they already have on their device by attaching a photo, using voice inputs, etc.
    • Use location information you can get from the device to pre-populate some geographical information being asked. This may not always be correct, but when it is, it can save a lot of time.
    • Allow people to paste copied information into fields.

Remember, by following these simple tips, you can dramatically improve your completion rates, conversions and ROI. Not to mention, you’ll create a positive experience for your users - and that’s the best way to keep your brand in top form.

Posted in: CSS, Customer Experience, Digital Experience, Graphic Design, HTML, Internet, JavaScript, Online Forms, Online Marketing, Usability, User Experience (UX), Web Development, Buyer Journey Optimization, Targeted Marketing Programs