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Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008 at 12:44 pm

7 Tips for Boosting Web Form Conversions

By Melissa Burdon
January 17th, 2008

From DoostangWhether your site is lead-generation or retail, you probably have a form somewhere. Here are some basic things you can do to optimize your forms.

1. Indicate which fields are required by using asterisks next to these required fields. Ask yourself if the non-required fields offer enough value. If they don’t, remove them from the form. This could potentially make all fields a requirement — and if that’s the case, the asterisks would be overkill — which brings us to our next point.

2. Only have them fill in required fields. Asking for too much information on a web form is like proposing marriage on the first date. We would all like to know our customer’s age, work title, phone number and address, but if you don’t absolutely need it, then remove it from the form. This will make the form shorter and less likely to frustrate the impatient, fast-paced visitor who may not feel comfortable exposing their personal info. Don’t let this be the reason why visitors are dropping off.

Doostang.com___Sign_Up_goodform.png3. Clarify what you expect them to do. Doostang gives the visitor a dialog bubble explaining each field when the visitor clicks to fill out a field. This removes any potential confusion as to what information is being requested and could lead to a reduction in errors taking place if a field is filled out incorrectly.

4. Offer reassurances when asking for personal information. Your visitors are concerned about privacy and security issues. You can offer a link to a privacy and security page so that the visitor can click to read and gain confidence.

5. Clearly state what the visitor will get by filling out the form, and do it at the very beginning of the page. Tell them what the benefits are. There should be no question as to what they’ll expect once they fill the form out.

6. Don’t ask people to submit. Call to action buttons should clearly state the action they’re about to take. Use colors and shading that make the button stand out effectively and, please, try to not use the word “submit” — it’s generic and misleading geek-speak.

7. Offer contact information somewhere on this page and/or in the top-right corner of the site (on every page). Give the visitor a phone number and a “Contact Us” link. If they don’t feel comfortable filling out the form, persuade them to call and speak with you directly.

Do you have any other suggestions to add to this list?

Add Your Comments

Comments (46)

  1. Great post Melissa. You make an interesting point on the submit button text.

    I think we could add as a potential #8 the testing of conversion buttons – size, placement, text/call-to-action and even color.

    Marketing Experiments found orange to be more effective than green, for example.

    We had a debate over at Get Elastic recently about usernames – should they be an email address (to avoid the irritation of having to add 123456 to your usual handle just to get it accepted if it’s a popular site – which you can easily forget) or have a default email address, which you may abandon.

  2. I’d also add testing the forms frequently. Nothing kills conversions worse than a broken form!

  3. Good checklist to read before you start designing a webpage with a form.

  4. [...] Another good advice I learned: Don’t ask people to submit. Call to action buttons should clearly state the action they’re about to take. Use colors and shading that make the button stand out effectively and, please, try to not use the word “submit” — it’s generic and misleading geek-speak. [read more] [...]

  5. These are great tips. The one tip I feel is the most important of all would be #5 – clearly stating what the visitor will get. When designing the form/landing page, if you can clearly state what the user will get using pictures (pictures of a user profile page for social networking sites, or pictures of the white paper or brochure cover with most B2B offerings), text descriptions and bullet list of features – it gives the user an assurance that they won’t be tricked and allows them to lower their guards.

  6. Another tip that works is for long forms which require many details. Instead of showing the whole big form on one page, you should divide it into smaller sections (not too many sections) and let your visitor fill it out in a few smaller friendly parts rather than one big intimidating form.

  7. The design is almost everything in forms. Nice tips but I think you should give more info about the forms design…

  8. If you have the resources also implement some metrics to track which field in the form generates most validation errors and are left unpopulated this will help improve the form and possibly decrease abandonment rates to a certain extent.

    Breaking a long detailed form into smaller “batches” can be helpful, just remember to place “break crumbs” to indicate what part of the process they are and how many to go. (e.g page 1 of 3). Adding a reinforcing “justification” on the form also helps- assuring trust in providing their data.

  9. In some testing I did, I found that placing the “required” notification at the field level was more effective than a single general statement. For example: “Name (required):” and “Procedure/Diagnosis (required):”. In addition, I found it was better to make that field level notification visually recessive. This was done by making the “required” text a lighter color and smaller font. Users were actually more likely to see the required label in this case than a big bolded or ‘all fields are required’ sort of message.

  10. I’ve seen some great additions to this list. Thanks for the group effort. I just want to add a comment. Each change that we make to our forms is based on a hypothesis. Even if an orange button was more effective then a green button for one specific form, this does not necessarily mean that this will be the best option for your form. My #1 Tip is to test each Hypothesis. We can list out best practices and feel confident that you’ll get results by implementing these, but when we begin talking about the color or placement of specific copy, it’s incredibly important to test and let the results speak for themselves.

  11. Great tips Melissa, and great comments too – and very timely for me as my company embarks on a new web form design. As the marketing mangager, I struggle to convey the importance of testing to my colleagues. Everyone – the MD, web developer, sales team etc – has their own opinions on form design, but while they are happy to implement best practice things, they don’t see the benefit of testing. Maybe you could do a post soon on how we can convince the rest of the web team that testing is crucial, and not just a ‘nice-to-have’ if budget/time permits? Thanks for the tips. Spot on as usual!

  12. Hi this is another really great post and I have to say I am a huge admirer of all the work that you guys do and read your blog regularly. In fact I am so much of an admirer that I was all set to book in on your course in Orlando Florida in January. This would have been a significant investment for me and the business that I work for both in terms of time and money as it would mean taking a week off work to fly out from the UK. The problem I had was once I reached your form. Firstly only states and countries you can select are US and Canadian. I wouldn’t expect you to list every country in the world but had you had an option for other it would have made things a lot easier. I persevered and completed the form using any state and USA as the country. Once I had completed the form the screen froze. I have to admit I was a little bit put off by this but forms break and that’s life. A few days later my boss had a go at trying to enrol me on the course he experienced the same frustrations but he called to see what the problem was and was told “you should use Firefox” at which point he declared I wouldn’t be going on the course. An understandable point of view when you consider what the course is about. I am a huge admirer of the work you guys do and I am a strong advocate of your techniques. I doubt this post will ever be shown on your blog but if you could please change the form that would make me a lot happier and it might mean that I can persuade my boss to let me attend one of your training courses in the future which I would very much like to. The offending form is at : https://secure.futurenowinc.com/eventreg/?EventID=15

  13. Every PPC marketer should use forms – many of my clients have calls to action buttons that take them to a form on the following page, but I find the form directly on the landing page provides for a much higher conversion rate.

    Thanks for the post.

  14. Tony,

    I sincerely appreciate you taking the time out of your day to share your experience with us. Not only do we welcome the feedback, we also welcome the opportunity, because it allows us to converse openly about how we market.

    One of the hardest things for any consulting company to do is to spend time focusing on its own effort — more often than not, that investment is spent on providing better service for clients. In this case, the current version of our events shopping cart did not allow for internationalization (our answer was adding a call-in number in hopes that it would allow anyone overseas to register this time). The other issues we encountered were with Internet Explorer, as you’ve already discussed. At the time the bugs were discovered, we made the decision to keep the store live in order to allow U.S. and Canadian attendees the option to continue to sign-up while we attempted to resolve the issues. At the time of the event, the problem was still occurring.

    We recognize that many of these issues are the same ones we encourage our clients (and our readers) to resolve and ask that you chalk this up to a case of “the cobblers children have no shoes.” Sometimes optimizing a campaign can be as simple as reducing technical barriers that prevent visitors from converting. We’ve made an internal commitment that, when our next event sign-ups are available, these issues will be resolved.

    Thank you again for your candid and constructive feedback. It is always valued.

    All the best,
    -Brian Bond, VP Marketing, Future Now, Inc.

  15. Brain

    Thanks very much, hopefully I will be on your next course!

    Kind Regards

    Tony

  16. [...] 7 Tips for Boosting Web Form Conversions [...]

  17. A few more tips to add. Do not forget to add a confirm email address on your form. This assures that you can actually get back to the person. My company also recommends that if you send an auto response like – ‘Thank You for filling out the form’ that you add your email address and contact information again. Lastly, please recommend that your potential customer make your url or email’s from your url at trusted site otherwise in a corporate setting it might not get through someone’s firewall or end up in spam and deleted automatically.

  18. nice post.

  19. On longer forms which are divided to several pages, it’s crucial to display how much of the form has already been completed, in order to lower completion failures from users just giving up.

  20. If anyone can recommend a good joomla form that I can use for receiving moving quotes from clients. I am re-building the site now using Joomla and trying to find a form where I can implement all of the above tips.

  21. Another great tip is to check your analytics report
    and chainge things according to the results u r getting
    u can give extra attention to :
    * users
    * main traffic referrerals
    * keyword popularity
    * leads and sales
    * landing page popularity
    * form and shopping cart conversion rates

  22. We are in the process of updating our webform. One thing we are going to put on our webform,which supports point #5, is by filling out the form as complete as possible, it will save time in future communications, and limit the need for us to contact them looking for information to submit a proposal or an invoice. We use software that downloads this info into our customer servcice software which saves us time allowing us to keep prices down to you by limiting mistakes and callbacks searching for additional information.

  23. Great information, it took us days to rebuild out submissions engine so things made sense.

  24. Thank you, very useful tips!

  25. I saw many forms with different colors, is it important to choose default colors or it doesn’t matter?

  26. [...] 7 tips pour améliorer les taux de conversion des formulaires de futurenow [...]

  27. Don’t force potential customers to sign up as a member when they are at the final stage of your conversion funnel(e-commerce),instead let them have an option of purchasing it directly without having to sign up as member first. Only after they have successfully purchase the product, provide them with an option of signing up as member for future convenience and for promotional offers.

  28. I think we can easily take a page out of Wufoo for this lesson as well. Those guys have mastered web forms.

  29. OK, ok! These are great comments that remind me of the things I SHOULD be incorporating into my client sites. I’m just making a To-do so that I go back and retrofit two recent sites with these enhancements…

    Cheers!

  30. [...] Don’t Ask For Too Much Information – Make sure your forms are optimized to ask only what you really need. And please don’t ask people to “submit to [...]

  31. meanwhile, now there are many free services available through which you can easily build forms and validate them without coding. Even they are providing SSL features as well. e.g. FormSite, JotFORM and many more.

  32. i would suggest that you would break down the form into 2 pieces if it’s too big to shy them away. kinda like facebook has, where first you need to fill only your name and email, and then on the second page is the rest.

  33. good list

  34. security is the most important factor imho. I don’ wanna just give my home address to anyone.

  35. Great tips Melissa, and great comments too – and very timely for me as my company embarks on a new web form design. As the marketing mangager, I struggle to convey the importance of testing to my colleagues. Everyone – the MD, web developer, sales team etc – has their own opinions on form design, but while they are happy to implement best practice things, they don’t see the benefit of testing.

  36. For security

  37. Great Thank you. good article
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  38. i think the best way is make the form simple as possible.

  39. Good checklist to read before you start designing a webpage with a form.

  40. I find broken forms in many websites, it is so irritating to fill those kind of forms. So, this article is good information.
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  41. Thanks for your post, more simple, more useful.

  42. test, test, test – broken forms can really destroy a sale.

    ask for must have info only, get the rest later.

    make as easy as possible and take the thinking out of the equation.

    users have shorter and shorter attention spans.

  43. Only have them fill in the required fields, they don’t need all the extra work.

  44. Make it really really simple. Also, try to make your web form fonts easy to read and in good readable style and sizes.

  45. i would suggest that you would break down the form into 2 pieces if it’s too big to shy them away. kinda like facebook has, where first you need to fill only your name and email, and then on the second page is the rest.

  46. It’s nice post, I find that all of those are important but, the most one is tips number 7 “Offer contact information”

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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