How to optimize my forms for a better user experience

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 05/14/2017

How many times have you visited a website or tried to register for some type of service online and were just completely turned off when forced to fill out an unappealing or long form?

Let's talk about some threats to user experience in forms and how you could improve yours.

"I have always been much better at asking questions than knowing what the answers were."

- Bill James

How do I know if my form has poor UX?

Your requesting too much info

Imagine you're filling out a form for some type of gated content, an ebook or checklist of some sort. The form requests your name and email, that's fine, but then it starts asking for your company name, size, industry, and all of these other pieces of information. I'm not saying that shorter is always better, but it shouldn't feel like an interrogation.

The first interaction should request the necessities; name and email. This is all you'll need to send visitors more content. Take more information as they move down the buyer funnel. So once you have a visitors name and email, next time they fill out a form for new content, you can ask for more information; industry and company size for example.

The key here is not to overwhelm your visitor or scare them off by forcing them into this unbalanced trade. You have to work for the information you want.

Unoptimzied registrations and sign-ins

How many sites have you created an account with? We have all of our main social media accounts, personal interest sites like online graphic design tools, and other accounts like online banking and car insurance.

How can we smooth the process of registering for accounts and ensuring a quick process of signing in in the future?

Well, many companies have adopted social sign ins. This means I don't have to type in my email, password, confirm it, etc. I can just create an account with the click of a button. This is great for mobile. Typing is just another chore we don't want to offset our UX with. This is another reason why auto-fill and password managers are just a couple of those little heroes.

How do I create a great form?

When building a form, it's best to put yourself on the other side of it; would you fill it out?

A great form is simple and almost effortlessly filled out.

Some helpful tips include:

Fields

  • Don't ask for info you don't need
  • Use auto-fill text
  • Use the right keyboard based on the data the user has to input (numbers, text, or dates)
  • Try to avoid drop downs. If you have 5 or less options, try check boxes or option buttons

Structure

  • Align your form to the left for easy scanability
  • Keep your form only one column
  • Use short, top-aligned labels
  • Optimize your forms for mobile

Every form is different and no one set of rules will apply to everyone. Try A/B testing to find a successful combination for yourself or feel free to contact us for some  ideas.