4 Mistakes You Might Be Making With Your Forms

Written by Abby Nieten on June 4, 2013

Posted in Form Hacks, Form Optimization

One of the amazing things about Formstack is that it gives the user total control over the creation of his or her forms. While we do offer pre-built forms and walkthroughs, users can just log in to their accounts and start creating forms from scratch. While Formstack’s easy interface enables users to do this, one drawback of this is the fact that users don’t receive unique advice on the best way to optimize each form.

You’ve probably mastered the basic functions of the form builder and maybe even added a few integrations – I know how awesome it feels to make a killer form that you’re proud of. But what if you aren’t getting the amount of submissions you wanted? Sometimes, your form will get a ton of traffic, but just a few minor nuances will prevent the user from actually completing the form. Through trial and error, we’ve identified four mistakes you might be making with your forms that can have a drastic impact on your submission rate:

1. Your form is too long. Nothing scares a user away faster than a long form. Think about it – if you open a web form and instantly see dozens of fields in a row, wouldn’t you close it and save it for another time? That’s what your users might be doing – but oftentimes, that “another time” never happens (leading to a low submission rate). Organize your form into shorter sections or break it up into multiple pages with a “Save and Resume” button. Conditional logic also helps to hide questions that might not necessarily apply to all users.

2. You don’t give your user options. Nothing is more frustrating than feeling pidgeonholed into one option or commitment. Giving your user choices will help increase your submission rate. For example, if you are hosting an event, use a radio button to give users the choice to pay online or at the door. If users elect to pay online, use conditional logic to then display the payment information. You can give multiple options for a variety of different forms, such as volunteer or email list signups or donation collections.

3. Your content is confusing. This one deals with what surrounds the form, rather than the form itself. If the content you are using to promote the form does not align with your intentions for the form, users will abandon the form as soon as they visit the page. If you are collecting payments for any reason on your form, make sure you are conveying that in your content. If you are hosting a sweepstakes or contest, take care to thoroughly detail all of the terms and conditions.

Tip: Users attempting to upload huge files might abandon the form if they encounter a failed submission attempt. The maximum file size for uploads is 25 MB per form submission (not per file upload field). If you state that up front, the user will be less likely to get frustrated after attempting to upload a humongous file.

4. Your fields are intimidating. If your form is full of unnecessary fields that cause the user to ask “Why am I submitting this information?”, your submission rate will plummet. Keep your form concise and only ask for the most pertinent information from your users. Besides, it takes a lot more effort to build a relationship with a skeptical user, so keep those form fields straightforward.

It’s tough to step back and take a critical look at the form you spent so long perfecting, but sometimes it can make a difference between a successful form and a form blunder.

Do you have any tips on how to decrease form abandonment? Was there a tweak you made that totally altered the success of your form? We want to hear your stories in the comments below!

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