Become an Expert Form Creator – No Experience Required
The goal of using electronic forms is to accelerate processes, not drag them out. If you don’t keep some elementary design principles in mind, you can end up creating online forms that frustrate or confuse users. For example, thinking, “With digital forms, we don’t have to worry about wasting paper, so we can ask for everything under the sun on our forms,” will almost certainly backfire. Here are some ways you can develop your expertise as a form creator.
Some Best Practices for Creating Online Forms
Use directional cues and visual contrast to make online forms easy to read. Few people can comfortably read a form made from white letters on a yellow background, for example. Whether you place directional words “First name” to the top or left of a blank, or inside a blank to be written over depends on factors like whether most people will access the form in a desktop environment or on mobile (where the limited screen space must be used wisely). It’s important to make the “Submit” or other call-to-action button stand out visually so users will know where to click once they have completed the form.
Things to Avoid When Creating Online Forms
Avoid input validation rules that aren’t clear. For example, if you expect a phone number to be entered with parentheses and hyphens, set up the blanks to include them so the user’s data entry automatically assumes the correct format.
One of the most important practices to avoid is making forms longer than they have to be, particularly if you’re collecting information from potential customers. If people open a form only to discover dozens of blanks asking everything in the world, and no clue whether all questions are mandatory, many of them will simply decide it’s too much trouble.
Ask yourself a few important questions before including any new feature in your online forms:
- Will the feature work with older browsers?
- Will it work with older devices (early iPhones, for example)?
- Does this feature make the form needlessly complex?
Nice Extras for Online Forms
Some “extras” make the form-filling process better for users. Password strength indicators to the right of the blank where the user creates a password can be reassuring. In-line form validation, which approves or asks for correction as the form is completed (rather than waiting until the form is submitted to spit it out and ask for a do-over) is appreciated. Make sure the form is optimized for mobile. That means keeping data entry to an absolute minimum, using generous-sized squares for users to tap, and detecting user location if relevant (as with, for example, a repair technician in the field).
Ways to Make Online Forms More Enjoyable
When you have great form creator software with a friendly, powerful user interface, you can actually make some of your forms fun to fill out. The so-called “Mad Libs” format, where the user fills in blanks in a narrative similarly to how it’s done with the Mad Libs word games, can be a nice diversion. The form may include something like, “Hello, my name is _____ and I would like my username to be _____ and my password to be _____. I am interested in _____ (possibly with options from a drop-down menu). If you show your users that you understand that filling out forms isn’t the most enjoyable activity and that you’re making an effort to minimize the hassle, you can engender significant good will.
With a top of the line form creation software, PerfectForms gives even non-technical users the power to create great-looking, effective, online forms. Whether they’re for internal use or customer-facing use, you can make custom forms exactly to your liking that your employees or customers will appreciate. Your forms will look and function just like those created by professional designers, with your choice of colors, typefaces, and logos, as well as terrific features that make it easy to include things like drop-down menus and in-line form validation. Sign up for a free trial of PerfectForms and you can discover for yourself how easy it is to make forms that do exactly what you need.