Forms are an integral part of virtually every website and often the first way a customer will make contact. A simple contact us form which proves complex to use, leaves the user unsure of the next step or is simply broken provides a terrible first impression.
Our top tips for a great form…
Think about the first impressions
When a visitor sees a form needs to be completed the first thought will be how long is it going to take to complete and whether the return is worth the effort. Assuming the visitor continues, immediately they will be wondering how their information will be used and how they are going to avoid a wave of emails, text messages and telephone calls.
Start by giving all forms a title and a simple explanation of what will happen once they complete the form.
Contact Us – We will respond via email within 2 working days.
Request Free Quotation – We will analyze the information provided and respond via email within 4 working days.
Magazine Subscription Order – We will confirm payment and when to expect your first magazine shortly.
And then assure your visitor you will not share their information and let them know exactly how you will use it.
Example: Data provided is solely used for the purposes of accepting payment and arranging delivery of your order.
Assume that if someone is buying online they are doing so because they are short of time, so the simpler you can keep the form the better. It’s simple, if the form is lengthy and complex the visitor is less likely to complete the form and you will lose the submission. Keep form instructions to the absolute minimum as people tend to not read them and they clutter up the form. A well developed form shouldn’t need lengthy instructions.
You can never do too much testing, but just because it works from a technical angle it doesn’t mean the form is easy to use. Before you put a form live make sure a range of people have tried out the form. For example, if your target market is the over 65’s then you need to get some feedback from some over 65’s!
Help visitors fix their errors
We’ve all been there, you quickly want to order something but you can’t work out what’s wrong on the form. It’s very annoying. A well developed form shows you very clearly the field with the error, a simple and polite message on how to make the correction and never deletes all the previously entered data.
An effective way of showing help on screen is to put the help text in a box and show it to the right of the form. If you are limited on space then look at using tool tips and then if a lot of information needs to be provided popup a new window.
Complete the form
Once the user has submitted the form, communication now changes. Firstly, display the form with all the completed information so the visitor can make one last check before completing. Then confirm submission and explain what will happen next. An email confirming the same information is now a standard part of a form process.
Some example clever forms are shown below.