User Experience: Form Building

The forms on your website are a crucial part of the lead generation process, and as such, it’s important to keep their overall usability in mind when planning your form.

Remember, every additional step in the process is an additional barrier to the user completing the form, and every form field that they have to complete is an additional step.

Form Objectives

The objective of most forms on your website should be to generate a lead, which your sales team will then follow up on, in the hope of closing a sale. That means that you shouldn’t be using your lead form to collect information about your users.

Context is everything of course. If somebody wants you to give them a building estimate, then more information that just a name and an email address are required. But in general, the rule of thumb is that the shorter the form is, the more likely users are to fill them in.

If you want somebody to request a download link for your catalogue, you don’t need to know where they live.

What Do You Need?

Context, right? If somebody is signing up for your newsletter, you really do just need a name and an email address. Same thing if they’re requesting a catalogue download, or a case study or an ebook.

If they’re arranging a demonstration or a consultation, then you might need to know where they live. Just an area if possible, but again, depending on what it is, maybe even an entire address.

(By the way, although they can be painful to make, location drop-downs can be a lot more effective than letting people type their area into the form…not everybody calls the same place by the same name, and sometimes the demarcations are a bit vague, so you might think you live in Bryanston, but the map thinks you live in Fourways, for example. Also, if you use any form of marketing automation, you’re at the mercy of people’s spelling if you try to match fields to trigger actions, etc.)

If they’re just making an enquiry, you might want an optional location or phone number, but not much more than that to begin with.

Build Information Slowly

Remember that a lead form is just that: It’s for getting leads. Wherever possible, try and start off with the bare minimum of information you need in order to advance the process. If things go well during the initial contact, you might be able to get some more information about the prospective client, and build up your data picture of them.

Form Basics

  • Enable auto-fill and auto-correct on your forms. These simplify the form completion process, and the easier the process is, the more likely people are to complete it.
  • Ask only what you have to know. The longer and more intrusive the form is, the fewer people will fill it out.
  • Single columns are usually more effective than double columns.
  • Test your form on mobile devices, to make sure it’s responsive and usable in that format.
  • Where you have to have long forms, make them “multi-step” forms if possible, with multiple pages, each with relatively few fields. Breaking up the form this way makes it seem less intimidating to users.
  • Inline labels and error messages are more user friendly.
  • Clearly mark required fields.
  • Make sure your action button is clear and obvious. If possible, instead of labelling it something like “Submit,” label it with the event that will occur on submission. Like “Get Your Free Catalogue” for example.