Whether 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.
3. 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?