When 67% of users abandon forms before completing them you’re looking at over two-thirds of potential customers walking out the door at the last hurdle. This is a pretty ridiculous stat when you consider these are the strongest leads you have and they slip through the net because of poor form design or user experience.

All that money you’ve invested to get potential customers get to this point – web design, marketing, paid advertising, etc. – and you almost 70% of them get away, just as they’re ready to pay up for your goods. Pretty crazy, right? Well, this is why form design should be a top priority for every website owner and today we’re looking at how to convert more leads with better web forms.

 

Keep it short

The first rule of web form design is to keep it ultra short – don’t ask unnecessary questions and don’t expect people to repeat themselves. Forget about asking for phone numbers unless you really need them, don’t make people type their email address or passwords twice and certainly don’t use CAPTCHAs.

Don’t forget you can always get users to submit more information at a later date, but the less you ask them for now, the more people will complete your forms.

 

Make it easy

This starts with short forms, but it also calls for seamless user experience, making them flawlessly easy to fill out and submit. So enable autocomplete wherever possible and don’t disable copy pasting if you insist on making users repeat themselves (but seriously, just don’t).

Look at it this way: would you rather lose 67% of potential leads or the small minority who can’t type their details correctly? Besides, you can reduce the chance of mistakes with validation – just be sure to give inline feedback so users only ever need to fill out your forms once.

 

Use an intuitive layout

Layout plays a major role in form design and studies show a fairly specific layout works best with forms that convert. Stick to a vertical layout in a single column wherever possible so users can read and understand them quicker. Labels are best placed above each field and avoid using placeholders as labels; they may look the part, but they can be seriously damaging to user experience.

 

Make it mobile

Follow the design principles above and you’ve already got a head start on optimising for mobile. Stick to your single column, vertical layout and you can pretty much set everything to 100% width for a responsive form on smaller displays.

There’s far more to mobile forms than responsive layout though and it starts with HTML5 form input types. These ensure the right keyboard displays for names, emails, dates and any other info you ask for, making your forms much quicker to complete.

 

Use multiple forms with goals in mind

Ideally you should have multiple forms on your website, each one with a different goal in mind. You may have a small signup form on your homepage, one on each landing page for your PPC campaigns, an email subscription form and a contact form – possibly even more.

The point is you need to design each form with its specific goal in mind so you can keep it short and only ask for the essential info needed for each action. Remember each form gives you a chance to contact these people asking for more info and target them with different offers – all it takes is that email address.

 

Be careful with popups

Popups are a real talking point when it comes to web forms and particularly email signups. Generally speaking, popups are plain awful when it comes to user experience and in theory you should stay well clear of them.

In practice, however, they boast some impressive conversion stats and you’ll find many brands sing their praises. It’s a tough call, because they present a final chance to hook visitors before they leave with an irresistible reason to stay involved with your brand. Meanwhile popup techniques are becoming less intrusive and more effective all the time.

So the choice is really down to you, but take the time to understand the pros and cons of popups and think about what your audience will respond to best.

 

 

That just about covers it for our post on web form best practices. We can’t begin to cover all the guidelines, talking points or big debates in one post, but the tips we have covered today should help you slash the number of potential customers abandoning your forms.

For more design tips you can check out this article at Wishpond and look into Google Analytics event tracking to help you pinpoint and fix any future problems with your web forms. Finally, don’t be shy to get in touch if you want any more advice on form design or help with your online marketing efforts.