5 Powerful Ideas for Creating User-Friendly Online Forms
Online business forms can be designed for internal use by employees or external use by customers. Poorly designed online forms may have only minimal advantages over paper forms, but user-friendly online forms can transform how business is transacted.
Form creation software is readily available, but the ability to create a form that will accelerate processes and capture valuable and accurate information is an acquired skill. Like photo-editing software, form software in the hands of someone with a clear plan for creating and using forms is a wonderful thing. In the hands of a person who doesn’t care about the user experience, the result can be unsightly, confusing, and off-putting. Here are five ideas that will help you create online forms that people will be happy to use.
1. Ask Yourself These Two Key Questions
Although you don’t have to worry about paper usage with online forms, you need to keep online forms concise. For every element you consider including in an online form, you should ask yourself two questions:
1. Is the information in this field valuable to us?
2. Is it so valuable that we’re OK denying users access to whatever is beyond the form if they don’t want to provide the information?
If a piece of information provides no real benefit (such as a field for “salutation”) or isn’t essential for completing a transaction (phone numbers sometimes fall into this category), it’s best to omit it.
2. Labels and Fields Should Make Sense
Users should understand exactly what a field is asking for, what format to enter it in (for example, Phone: XXX-XXX-XXXX), and whether entering the information is mandatory. Nobody wants to fill out an extensive form only to discover that something like “Middle Name” was mandatory and they must start over.
The blanks themselves should be sized appropriately, which helps reinforce what’s supposed to go in them. Say your form has a field for ZIP code that occupies an entire row of the form. Not only are you wasting space, it’s not as obvious what goes there as it would be if it were the exact size for the number of digits in a ZIP code.
3. Infuse Your Form with Good Manners
We’ve all been there: Making a mistake filling out a form only to be chastised by an angry X and a description of our transgression in red, suggesting we’re incompetent, malicious, or both. People make mistakes filling out forms. When you have to issue error messages, they can be polite and still be effective. When users complete a form, they should be presented with a message confirming that the form was successfully submitted and that expresses thanks for their participation. This reassures users their data has been entered properly.
4. Keep Form Designs Consistent and Brand-Relevant
Perhaps your website includes several different forms, such as order forms, landing page forms, and registration forms. You’re wise to keep designs consistent and relevant to your brand. Many companies include a logo or brand colors in their forms. When this is done consistently throughout the website it reassures users they are indeed in the right place. But if, say, a registration form and a purchase form look completely different from each other, it can make users uneasy and make them wonder if they’ve been taken to another site altogether. Consistent design makes sense for online forms.
5. Understand the Strategic Use of “Whitespace”
A winning form is as much about what you don’t see as what you do see. Not only should online forms only ask for information that’s necessary so people will stay around long enough to complete them, they should make judicious use of white space between fields. This makes forms less confusing, gives them a clean look, and makes life easier for mobile users who may have difficulty trying to tap onto a tiny field before entering information. Even if your form is brief, if it is all jammed into a small space it can look as uninviting as an extended form that asks the user for extensive information.
Anyone can create online forms with PerfectForms’ online form builder. They can do so with ease and include powerful integrations without knowing how to program. Not all form software is user-friendly and easy to integrate into other programs and information sources. PerfectForms, however, gives you all the tools you need to create online forms your users will be happy to complete. Have a look at our demo. You’re sure to gain several terrific ideas about how you can put PerfectForms form software to use.
Tags: forms software