Website Forms: 6 Best Practices

As an online retailer or business, web forms are the vehicle – and sometimes battle – between you and a potential customer. Dedicating time to optimizing your intake forms is vital to boosting conversion rate. Here are 6 basic best practices when it comes to web form optimization.

 

Be present, but don’t overwhelm.

Use data to understand the flow of your users and how they navigate your website. Your site visitors should never have to look around to find where to contact you. Place in-line links naturally within content pages. When done right, in-line calls-to-action help guide a user to the next step rather than annoy. Including links to contact forms in the header and/or footer of your website (preferably the far right in the navigation) ensures that they are present on every page of your site.

 

Keep it simple.

Only include fields that are absolutely necessary. As marketers, we tend to be greedy with our questions, trying to get as much information about this lead as possible. Be wary of what you consider a required field – if a user doesn’t want to give that information or is simply overwhelmed it can often lead to a bounce.

The average web form contains 11 fields – but a case study performed by Unbounce proved that reducing that number to just 4 fields increased conversions by 120% – without hindering the quality of the leads. Remember: less is more.

 

Keep it smart.

Your users are smart, so your forms should be too. Conditional logic enables a question to only display if the user answered the previous question in a certain way. Not only does conditional formatting reduce the length of your form, it decreases abandonment by only displaying relevant questions to the user.

Optimizing for mobile is also essential. Autoformatting allows users to enter data (particularly fields like phone number and zip code) any way they want, which can be helpful for mobile users. Knowing when to use radio buttons, dropdowns, or checkboxes can also help intuitiveness and ease of use.

 


Dropdowns (left) versus radio buttons (right)

 

Communicate clearly.

Identify and communicate input errors clearly. Listing errors at the top of the form after the first failed submission is a one-way ticket to abandonment. Utilize in-line validation if possible, which provides real-time feedback to the user, allowing the ability to correct errors along the way.

Adding dummy text or input masking to fields is a great way to let users know exactly what type of information you are looking for and in what format.

It’s also important that the purpose of the form is clear to users. The reward and end-point should be specific. Are they downloading a white paper? Waiting for a phone call? An email? A discount? Change up the form’s button copy to identify a clear call-to-action. “Book appointment” or “Download e-book now” are much stronger than simply “Submit”.

 

Utilize the Thank You page.

You’ve got the lead – now’s your chance to keep them interested. First, let your lead know what to expect now. When exactly will you be back in contact with them? Through what method? Ditch the typical “thank you for your submission” and encourage your lead to explore the website. Provide a link to a relevant blog post; embed a video or your social feed. Maintain the flow.

It is also best practice to de-index your Thank You pages from Google and other search engines to prevent these pages from appearing in search engine results. Setting up Thank You pages as goals in analytics also aids in proper conversion tracking.

 

Test everything.

At Hall, we never assume. Our best advice when it comes to conversion optimization is simple: test it. A/B tests provide reliable, granular data to prove what works and what doesn’t. Test button copy, colors, the format of a question, even the order of the fields. See whether conversions increase if you give users the option between phone and email. You may be surprised at what you find.

 

Want to learn more about form optimization? Check out this article from UX Planet.