In a nutshell if you design usable web forms you’ll likely see your conversion rates soar.

We’ve all had that sinking feeling when faced with a form to fill in, be it on paper or online. They’re usually over long and over-complicated – there’s never the option you want to choose, enough space to actually write your answer or they ask seemingly unrelated questions that you don’t want to answer!

You have to be even more careful when you’re asking people to fill in forms online, we’re not only very wary of giving away information but our attention span is very short. It’s easy to go looking for another website that has the same thing on offer for less hassle.

Here are 5 ways to get more people filling in your forms:

1. Trustworthiness
People are more likely to fill in your form if they trust you and agree with how you’re going to use the information.

Your form can either reinforce the credibility you’ve built-up or undermine it. To increase trust:

  • Clearly state the purpose of the form
  • Get a professional to design your form
  • Test the form thoroughly to make sure it works correctly
  • Keep the form and surrounding area free from advertising

2. Give a reward
Make it clear to your user what they get in return for filling the form in. Do they get access to exclusive content, a coupon or a free trial? Offer them something they want – you would be more likely to give a site your email address in return for a money-off voucher or a free eBook than if no reward was offered. You could even give them a sample of what they’ll get before they register – you could give them the first chapter of the eBook or the first couple of paragraphs of an article.

3. Ask the right questions at the right time
Make sure that you place your form at a logical stage in your user journey. Explain why you’re asking the questions. If you ask intrusive or difficult questions or present your form at an inappropriate time users will either give you false information or leave your site altogether.

To increase form conversions make sure you:

  • Keep the form short and easy so quick to fill in – the fewer questions the better
  • Think carefully about how you phrase your questions – the shorter the required answer the better
  • Don’t ask for too much personal or sensitive information – the more you ask for the lower your response rate will be
  • Don’t ask for unnecessary details e.g. if someone is registering online, don’t ask them for their postal address unless you need to mail them something
  • If your form is necessarily long e.g. car insurance quote, break it up into short pages and provide a progress indicator

4. Make your questions easy to answer
It goes without saying that the harder your questions are to answer i.e. the more thinking the user has to do, then the lower the response rate of that form.

Look at one of the forms on your website and consider these questions:

  • Does the form use industry specific jargon that users may not understand?
  • Could your questions be interpreted in different ways?
  • Do you require the user to enter specific information into the form that they will need to go away and find e.g. an account reference?
  • Do you ask questions that may appear to be irrelevant to the user – perhaps becasue they’re part of your business’ internal processes?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions then look at updating your form.

You may not need to change the questions but just provide extra information e.g. if you require a reference number then tell the user where to find that reference – if it’s on a letter they’ve received then add a graphic to show them exactly where the reference can be found. You’ll likely improve your response rate just by reducing the thinking effort the user has to put in and you’ll increase the accuracy of the data you collect.

5. Write useful instructions
Instructions on how to use forms rarely get read unless the user is unfamiliar with your company or form and needs reassurance… or they get stuck.

Make sure your instructions are written in plain English and cut the superfluous words. Break instructions down in to easily readable, numbered steps and put the choice before the action otherwise your user will act before reading the choice!

There are of course many other ways to improve the response rates of your forms not least of which are the design layout and grouping of questions. But they’re subjects in their own right and will be the subjects of future articles.

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