3 Simple Ways to Make Your Forms Easier to Fill Out

Convincing a visitor to fill out a form is the key to everything from getting basic contact information to implementing robust marketing automation. We’ve looked at how to clarify context to make a form’s value clear, but bad form usability can nip that value exchange in the bud.

By adopting some best practices, you can make it easier for forms to be filled out, making your users happy and more likely to return to fill out another one later.

Align Form Labels Visually

sample-I94-FrontPageAligning form fields in a nonsensical manner can spell madness for your visitor. Recently, I went crazy filling out a form returning to the U.S. from a trip overseas.

You can see in this sample form from DHS what it looks like when form labels don’t have proper space and layout. I got about three lines into filling it out before I started assuming the label was under the field. By adding more space under each field, I wouldn’t have gotten halfway through the form before realizing I was putting in all the wrong information.

Don’t give your users that same frustration! If your labels are beside your field, consider making them right-aligned for enhanced readability. If form length isn’t an issue, use top-alignment for even faster form-filling. Besides, you can combat perception of form length with some of the tactics in our previous article.

Reconsider What’s Required

While we already know that less fields can lead to more conversions, you can often achieve this by considering what information you need at that time. Can you get a user’s job title on another form, when they’re a little further into the funnel? Do you really need a phone number to get monthly emails? Asking for the minimum you need never hurts! Asking for a ‘salutation’ is a great example of a field you can cut more often than not.

If you’re not sure you can whittle the fields down any further, you can also look into the forms you’re requiring vs. what’s optional. It may be easier to group the fields into required and optional sections to get the information you need faster, and allow the user to decide what else they’d like to give you. No matter how you do it, make sure you clearly denote what’s mandatory — and don’t use the color red, as that usually represents form errors.

Use the Right Field for the Job

Using the proper field in the right way will avoid hindering and frustrating users.

  • Don’t put two or three mutually-exclusive options into a dropdown menu; use a radio button instead. This helps users scan options faster.

  • Use checkboxes when users can select multiple values simultaneously, or when giving a single option that can be toggled on and off.

  • When you need a single selection, but you’ve got more than a few options, then use a dropdown menu.

  • Only select a default when the vast majority will select that option, and ensure it’s clearly labeled. If you’ve got lots of options (say, more than 20 or so), consider using a text field instead.

Don’t give your visitors any reason to walk away from your form. By applying some basic usability and design principles, you can ensure that those valuable ‘keys’ collect as much information from happy users as possible.

Image source can be found here.