How to Be Kind to Form Users: Form Field Validation

Online forms

Filling out forms will probably never be as enjoyable as petting a puppy or eating ice cream, but there are plenty of things form designers can do to make forms as painless as possible for users. The simple fact that online forms exist as an alternative to manually completing paper forms and then hand-delivering, mailing, or faxing them somewhere is already a huge improvement in the form user experience.

But if you have good form creation software, you can avoid minor hassles that make online forms more difficult than they need to be. Here are several ways you can be kinder to your electronic form users without compromising on the quality of the data your forms collect.

Validating Form Fields as Soon as They’re Completed

Have you ever filled out a lengthy form online and clicked “Submit” with a sense of relief, only to be jarred by a pop-up telling you that you made a mistake? Maybe you have to go back and look for the blank that’s outlined in red, and then try to envision what you did wrong. Did you include a period after your initial when you weren’t supposed to? Did you neglect to put the area code in parentheses? Sometimes it’s easy to figure out where you went astray, but with long forms that take up into pages, it can take a while.

Ideally, form creator software should allow you to notify a user that the information they put in a blank is invalid as soon as they enter it, so they can rectify the situation immediately. If nothing else, break extensive forms down into multiple pages so that users aren’t overwhelmed. This is especially important for website landing pages and online order forms. People will abandon them if they’re too daunting.

Using Drop-Down Menus to Restrict Choices

When you need, say, a date entered, using drop-down menus from which users can choose the month, day, and year prevents problems with different date conventions. Many e-commerce businesses in the United States use drop-down menus for shoppers to enter their state of residence to prevent typos that can result in delivery problems. Drop-down menus are especially welcomed by mobile users since they minimize the amount of typing they have to do.

Online forms

Mobile users in particular appreciate drop-down menus for filling in forms.

You can even use drop-down menus on forms that request help. For example, if you use online forms for IT help requests, a drop-down menu can allow users to choose a category in which to classify their particular issue (problem printing, slow network, software problems, etc.) so completed forms can be routed and prioritized correctly.

Labeling Form Fields with Helpful Information

When additional information is included next to fields that have specific requirements, users are less likely to become frustrated. Say you have a form that requires setting up a password. If your passwords have special requirements or restrictions, indicating this immediately underneath the blank is tremendously helpful. Letting users know, for example, that they may use only letters and numbers, or that they must include a special character, or if they need to use both capital and lowercase letters, keeps the form-completion process on track and painless.

Making Clear Which Fields Are Mandatory

If certain fields in a form are mandatory, indicating that this is the case can prevent serious frustration on the part of users. Many online forms include a red asterisk next to blanks that must be filled in, and leave optional blanks plain. Or, they may include instructions next to individual fields indicating whether or not they’re mandatory. The word “optional” underneath blanks that aren’t mandatory prevents confusion and allows users to minimize the amount of information they enter if they’re in a hurry or on mobile.

Being kind to users of online forms makes submitting them go more smoothly, and can mean the difference between a sale and an abandoned shopping cart with e-commerce forms. PerfectForms makes it simple to design online forms and workflows that make sense, that are user-friendly, and that accelerate processes significantly compared to accomplishing them manually.

PerfectForms offers form creation software designed for non-technical users, so no programming is required, even to make complex and detailed forms and workflows. Better still, you can try out PerfectForms for free and discover for yourself how easy it is to make logical, sensible, aesthetically pleasing electronic forms that help your organization save time and money.

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