Add These Checks and Balances to Optimize Online Forms

Errors in online forms are inevitable, but there are several things you can do to ensure those errors are corrected before the form is submitted.

Online forms with mistakes waste time, but you can prevent many mistakes with simple design constraints.

Excellent form design is perhaps the most important way to minimize errors in online forms. Forms should be pleasing to the eye, have plenty of white space, and be kept to the minimum number of fields necessary to collect the information you want. Cut out any questions that are not strictly necessary, particularly with customer-facing forms. Shorter forms tend to get more conversions than longer ones. 

Beyond that, you can add a number of checks and balances to your online forms that can cut down on the number of errors that make it through. Here are a handful of tips that are tried and true.

Use Color-Coded Fields for Mandatory Information

Researchers in Switzerland actually studied which works better to designate mandatory fields in online forms: asterisks or color-coding the mandatory fields. Color-coding worked better. It made mandatory fields easier to identify at first glance, and made it easier to see what proportion of total form fields were mandatory. The study reported that color-coded mandatory fields resulted in fewer errors, faster form completion, and greater user satisfaction. 

Suggest Default Entries for Fields That Rarely Vary

There will be form fields that are almost always completed with the exact same information. For example, if 90% of your organization consists of engineers, a form asking for “job title” will most likely be completed with “engineer,” so you can have that as a default in a drop-down menu to make form completion faster. 

Likewise, a form that is almost always filled out by people in your Chicago branch can have a default “location” field pre-filled with “Chicago” (but with the ability to be overwritten by the form user). Even the fastest typists appreciate getting to skip fields in online forms, and you can avoid a lot of errors this way.

Default field info that minimizes typing for form users? Yes, please!

Impose Constraints that Prevent Erroneous Data Entry

Suppose someone is filling out a form requesting paid time off next summer. Just as airlines and hotels do, you can impose constraints that won’t let them, for example, erroneously enter a return date that’s before the departure date.

Likewise, if the value of a certain field always falls within a specified range of numbers, you can make that form field reject any numbers that fall outside that range. A field that must include numbers can be designed to reject text typed into it. These seemingly small constraints can prevent plenty of errors.

Use Inline Validation to Allow for Quick Error Correction

Have you ever completed an online form and clicked “Submit” only to receive a pop-up box telling you there were half a dozen errors that must be corrected before the form would go through? It’s incredibly frustrating, and even if the pop-up box tells you what the errors are, it’s not that helpful, because you have to go back to the form and find all of them, presumably after you’ve closed the pop-up box!

Enabling form users to correct information as they go is far preferable. Say someone enters an email address and mis-types # for @. A message that pops up immediately next to the form field allows them to correct the mistake quickly and move on. Forms will arrive with fewer errors, and form users will experience far less frustration.

The right form software is essential for designing forms that are error- and frustration-free. PerfectForms allows you to create customized forms using the many templates that come with the software, or from scratch with an intuitive interface that allows you to drag and drop form elements into place. 

PerfectForms also allows you to add checks and balances that ensure a frustration-free experience for users while ensuring that the information entered is correct. Watch our demo video and see how easy it can be to create the custom online forms that will help your business operate more efficiently.


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