How do people sign up to your service? Through an online form. This little thing can either boost conversion rates or have no effect, depending on its design and capabilities. Online forms (of different types) are wonderful means of communicating with the public. They should therefore be given considerable importance while designing your site to success.
Here are 10 tips for clever use of web forms that will help you catch all the butterflies in your net.
1. Research – First make it clear if you need a web form to gather information or whether it will be just a hook for audience. What attitude do you expect as a response, which are the best form fields to reach this objective and what capabilities should the form have? These are key questions. Think of a friendly approach – the sense of humour can have a place in online forms too.
2. SSS – keep it Short, Simple and Standard. Use a form design that is not average, but recognizable for users who already fill in dozens of web forms daily. Break the overall picture into smaller sections, so that users can easily scan through fields. Labels over fields should be clear and relevant for the content and positioned in the appropriate place (in the proximity of the input: top-, right- or left-aligned).
3. Personalization – Form layout should match your overall page design. Avoid graphic clutter. Use form templates with carefully chosen colours (the ones that best represent you) and display your logo somewhere visible. This tip applies even to the simplest contact form.
4. Reduce typing stress – Make sure that users have to type as little as possible. Use choice fields when appropriate (radio buttons, dropdown lists, checkboxes) and take advantage of predefined fields – their structure shows precisely what needs to be typed where.
5. Interaction – In complex web forms, rules over fields are a necessity, so that the questions show up based on the answers provided for the previous ones. If a user answered No at the question ‘Do you live in the countryside’, there’s no point in further asking him questions about the countryside; rather go on the other branch, designed for city inhabitants. The form builder you use should allow branching.
6. Required fields – These should be marked by a graphic sign. Whatsoever, better stick to the essence and use less of the unnecessary fields, because most users leave those fields unfilled anyway and there is a greater chance they abandon the form before finishing it, if there are too many of them.
7. Provide guidance – Forms should have instructions beside the fields, stating why it is necessary to provide that information, how will the owner use it or other appropriate guidelines. These messages help develop an owner-user relationship that builds up user’s trust in the service you offer.
8. Field validation – Choose what type of input should be typed into fields (e-mail address, phone number, ZIP code), in order to avoid the occurence of invalid submissions. It’s best to specify these conditions in the instructions attached to fields, even if you perceive these indications as being obvious.
9. Error handling – Once you have established the field validation requirements, your form builder has to be technically capable of highlighting the fields that contain errors, in order for form users to notice where corrections are needed.
10. Confirmation messages – Submitters feel relief when finishing a form and these messages should reinforce that. The message should be friendly and it should express your thankfulness as clearly as possible.
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Prizes: 3 lucky winners will go away with a one year Platinum licensee (worth $300 value).
How to participate: All you need to do is to leave a comment on what you find the most useful about 123contactform.com after having a tour on their website. The 3 most relevant comment will be picked as winners of this contest.
Contest end: This contest will end on 15 Dec 2011. Winners will be announced within 2 weeks after the contest ends.
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