Forms are an important part of a website or page. Similar to paper forms, they allow web users to sign up for newsletters, make purchases and so forth.
Well-designed forms make this easy for web users to submit and ultimately encourage the spread and advertisement of the University of Kent as a brand. However, badly designed forms can be extremely frustrating for potential site users or customers and may result in them giving up and finding what they need elsewhere.
Forms can either assist of prevent a user or customer from taking the action you want them to take. Here is some guidance to make your forms as effective as possible:
- Only ask for the information you actually need
The easier and quicker it is for a web user to complete the form, the more likely they are to do it. Don’t ask them for extra information that you won’t use. This also reduces suspicion that you will pass on their information to other companies, meaning they are more likely to disclose it to you.
- Design the form conservatively
When designing the layout of your form, remember that, at least in the Western world, people read top to bottom and left to right and use the Tab key to navigate around the form. Reflect this in the design through labelling and the placement of elements. Also use this to structure the form so it doesn’t look scattered and messy.
- Focus on either lead volume or lead quality
Lead volume is the number of site users (leads) who give you their information. Lead quality is the amount of personal details people completing your form provide. If you are interested in increasing the volume of leads you have, concentrate on keeping the form short and simple to fill in. If you want to focus on lead quality, consider asking the web user to submit more information and details – but bear in mind that this may reduce the number of leads.
- Include useful error messages
If a web user fills out your form incorrectly, explain to them clearly and concisely where they went wrong or what information they are missing. Make sure that error messages are highlighted to make them as visible as possible. Highlight the specific label/field that has been filled out incorrectly or missed.
- Prioritise appearance
- Remember compatibility
The web is constantly evolving and your form needs to be compatible with new web platforms. Be aware of where users are and what devices they are using.
- Consider autofill
It can be frustrating for users to be asked to fill out additional forms on your website and have to type out every piece of information again. To increase the likelihood of them completing the form, save their information from the original form so that your other pages automatically fill in their data.
- Fulfil offers immediately
If you are offering something as an incentive for filling out your form, make sure it is given immediately to the user. If your form is for a whitepaper download, include a link to download it on the very next page. You could also send an auto-response email containing a link to the offer. This prevents people having to search through their emails to find your reward.
- Say thank you!
You need to thank the web user for taking to the time to submit their form and giving you the details that you want. Create a custom page that thanking the user for their submission and telling them what the next steps are. Not only is this polite, it also shows them that they have finished the task you have asked them to complete and that they are free to go.
- (For individual departments)
Consider what you are offering web users
If you are interested in getting larger amounts of information from users, you may have more success if you offer them something of value in return. For example, you could offer a one-off download or free access to a specific article or journal. This will act as an incentive for users to give you the information you want. With that information you can then create more detailed email lists for even more effective communication.
For more tips on creating effective web forms and to see some examples, please follow the links below: