A good website takes potential customers and drives them to conversions with great design and easy-to-understand action paths. That action, almost every time, requires the user to fill out a form. So why do so many people use generic web forms, with unnecessary fields and “blah” design?

The form is often the last step in the conversion funnel on your site. You’ve convinced the user that they need your service or product, and now they are ready. Why not present them with something that matches your branding and standards?

Optimized web forms can greatly increase conversion rates on a site. With some forethought and design, you can make filling out a form quick and simple for your users – leading to more conversions and more opportunities to win business.

Today we have a guide to creating optimized web forms that increase conversion rates. We will start by defining a purpose for our form, and then walk through the best practices for designing forms.

Have a Purpose

What is the purpose of your particular web form? Is it to gather data from your prospect; is it to get someone to sign-up for a newsletter or to get feedback?The purposes of web forms are endless, but knowing your specific purpose is crucial before beginning to develop or design one.Knowing your purpose will improve the overall experience for your end user when they use your web forms.Some forms will be long. Some will be very short. A form that is signing someone up for a billed service will be longer than a form that is signing someone up for a free eBook, usually. You need to know your goal to determine how long and in-depth your forms should be. If you just want contact info, keep it simple!

Best Practices

Part of having web forms on your site is making them user friendly to give your user the best experience possible. The end result is always to convert your prospect or to get your client to take a certain action – improving their experience will do this naturally. There are some general best practices when building (or hiring someone to build) web forms.

Keep it Simple

  • Only ask for the information you absolutely need, and nothing more.
  • Place your form fields in an order that makes sense for your user.
  • Show examples of what you are asking for (e.g. [email protected]).
  • Add short cuts like being able to toggle through form with your keyboard.
  • Don’t make all information mandatory, just the basics.

Offer a Clear Message

  • Let your users know what you are asking for or what you expect by making the forms clear and concise.
  • Give clear error messages so user knows they entered something wrong and give feedback on how they need to fix it.

Give Proper Feedback

  • Highlight mandatory fields to avoid wasting peoples times.
  • Give clear direction or steps so user knows how to fill out form.
  • After form is submitted, let user know it was done correctly and what to expect next.

Design is Important

  • Just because web forms are intended to gather information doesn’t mean they have to be boring – add design.
  • Come up with something unique or interesting – a symbol, icon, unique colors, or dynamic design elements.
  • Don’t over clutter your web form with design. Keep it professional and in line with your overall look and feel.

Software & Tracking

Whenever you are trying to increase leads, traffic or conversion rates on your website, you need to have tracking in place to measure your results.You will want to know the impact your new form has on your overall metrics compared to your old form or no form at all. Set goals around your new form and measure the results on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and then adjust as needed, based on results. Know when you need to make a change by the results you gather.The best marketing software programs will have customizable web forms with the ability to track results and even set up campaigns based on your form(s) and goals. Do your research to find the program that will do it all for you.

Final Thought: Build Trust

An extremely well built and designed web form is only as good as the site it is on. If your overall site doesn’t convert well or attract visitors, neither will your form.

Users need to trust you (learn how to build trust on your site) before they will give out all their personal information, therefore a facelift of your overall site may be in order, not just your web forms.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein