Let’s face it, we want our prospects to give us lots of information. This is often the last thing they want to do because so many forms are just a pain to complete.
So… how do you make easier for them to give you what you want?
Making forms with the user in mind, then testing to find out where the pain causes users to bail can make a massive difference to the user experience.
Here are 8 quick tips on web form optimization…
1. Label your fields clearly
What do your users call things? Speak their language (do you customers say postal code or zip code?, etc.). Tell them WHY you need things.
Here’s a good example of telling someone why they need to give you the CORRECT information:
2. Use side by side field captions
Some websites put labels on top on fields, but this makes the form longer and has shown to decrease form fill outs. Instead, consider placing the field caption horizontally next to the blank field.
Additionally, to minimize any confusion on the visitors’ part, you can also include the name of the fields within the field box, as in the example below.
3. Use in-line validation
Nothing causes form bail-outs more than when users click the submit button on the page and they get a bunch of errors. If users have made an error when completing a form, let them see it right when they make it.
This enables customers to quickly fix problems and reassures them that they have completed the form correctly.
4. Make error messages easy to understand
This is kind of a continuation of the in-line validation, but it’s important, so it gets its own number. Don’t just use generic error messages, tell the user what’s actually wrong. Here, a form really explains what mistake I’ve made (the email was not in the correct format):
5. Don’t clear existing fields after user errors
There should be a special circle in Hell for sites that do this. Thankfully, it’s becoming rarer, but I still get this more often than I think I should.
You know I mean: you submit the form and are then told that some fields are missing. Instead of just allowing you to correct the fields in question, it clears ALL the information you have entered.
Use a form tool or programming that simply prevents this.
6. Keep forms short
Long web forms are scary for people and will keep many potential customers from action and some will just abandon them right in the middle rather than take the time to finish them.
For some websites, long forms are unavoidable, so the key is to break them up into manageable chunks (pages) and make them user friendly.
7. Use the right format for each field
This is about making things as easy as possible for users, For example, many sites have drop-downs for gender. Since there are pretty much only two possible options, using radio buttons to select boxes would mean less work for shoppers.
In the checkout process, using radio buttons for delivery options works well instead of drop downs. Not only does this require less ‘work’ for users, but it also allows for quick comparison of the delivery options available.
8. Give users feedback after submission
Make sure potential customers know that their details haven’t just vanished into thin air by acknowledging their form submission.
Better yet, tell them something about what happens next, and how soon customers can expect a follow up.
All these things are simple and might not make a world of difference on their own. However, put them all together, and you could see lifts in your form fill outs.