Is It Time to Re-Imagine Your Online Forms?

Person using their tablet at a grocery store.

Most people are used to completing online forms in their work and personal lives.

Online forms are nothing new, and most people are used to them.

In fact, online forms are the backbone of many businesses, and are typically the primary way businesses collect data about their customers and their internal employees. But online forms can be so much more than just electronic versions of the paper forms you used to use. They can accomplish much more, in less time, all while building a collection of data that will help you run your business better and make your customers happier. If you have been using your current online forms for a while, maybe it’s time to re-imagine them.

Duplicates of Paper Forms are Fine as a Starting Point

When companies first make the transition from paper forms to online forms, it makes sense in many cases to simply duplicate the layout of the paper forms for their online versions. That way they look familiar to people who are used to the paper forms, and it will be easier for people to make the transition from filling out paper to completing forms online.

But this is hardly ever the ideal online form layout. We’ve all seen good and bad online forms, and it is often the bad online forms that most closely mimic the paper ones of earlier times. The truth is, what worked fine on paper is often far from ideal when it comes to online forms. Fortunately, with the right online form software, creating engaging online forms is easy.

Conversational Data Collection Should Be a Goal

Your goal with online forms is essentially conducting a conversation with the form user – a conversation that yields the data you need. People are put off by online forms that are massive, detailed, and require a lot of typing and scrolling. For one thing, people don’t want businesses (or their employers) collecting data beyond what is appropriate. No one will fill out a highly detailed landing page form solely to gain access to a white paper.

If you must collect more data than what can be captured in two or three questions, it’s usually better to do so with a series of screens, each containing one or two questions. A progress bar at the bottom of the page to let users know how far they still have to go in completing the forms is also helpful.

Woman sitting on the floor using a laptop.

Multiple, easy-to-complete screens beat single-screen, massive online forms every time.

Use Collected Data Wisely to Improve Personalization

The data you collect can often be used to improve online form personalization immediately. If, for example, the first bit of data you collect is a person’s name, you can then address them by name in subsequent form pages: “Thanks, Jessica. This page is where you enter your shipping data.”

Behind the scenes, collected data can also be mined to enhance personalization. Suppose Jessica completes her forms and then returns a week later to place another order. The new form can be presented with her contact and shipping information already entered, saving her time and assuring her that you already “know” her.

Simplicity and Reduction of Screen Clutter Is Important

The more you can reduce screen clutter and simplify online forms, the better. If there are only two or three possible answers, presenting the user with answer buttons to click rather than drop-down menus (or making them type in their answer) speeds form completion along even more, and is far friendlier to your mobile device users. In fact, when you design your online forms with mobile users in mind, you make things easier on all your form users. Lack of mobile-friendliness with your online forms is a sure way to frustrate and potentially drive away form users.

Of course, making online forms that people want to engage with requires that your online form software be up to the challenge. PerfectForms is a leading provider of online form and workflow software that makes creation and modification of online forms simple and fast. It has a drag-and-drop interface and makes it easy to create forms that are aesthetically pleasing, fast, and mobile-friendly. And you can try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. Don’t let your aging online forms frustrate and turn away users. The power of beautiful, engaging online forms is yours with PerfectForms.

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