5 User Experience Best Practices for Forms

Written by Heather Mueller on October 14, 2014

Posted in Form Optimization

Are your forms killing your lead generation efforts? Is poor design keeping you from collecting the data you need?

The popularity of inbound marketing means forms are everywhere: in popups and slideup boxes, sidebars and footers, tabs and lightboxes. Marketers are told to gate content and collect prospect info wherever possible. But all those forms could be hindering, instead of helping, your efforts. Follow these guidelines to build forms that are enticing and user-friendly:

1. Keep them short.

Marketing automation software offers the ability to capture every detail about your prospects. Whether you’re creating an email signup or survey, it can be tempting to add another matrix here, a question about job titles or revenue streams there.

The next time you’re tempted to add additional fields, here’s our advice: Don’t. Ask only for the info you really need, and use features like conditional logic to keep forms short.

2. Be selective.

If your blog provides helpful product tips and instructions, placing a form at the end of each post may be a good idea. But if that same form also pops up and flashes across the screen in a banner ad, you risk brand fatigue or, perhaps even worse, invisibility.

Users have a limit to how much they can process at once, and their brains will start to block the overflow, either automatically or out of frustration.

3. Maximize colors.

Believe it or not, color can have a big impact on how users respond to your forms. In addition to using your brand’s palette for consistency, test different colors in your form’s theme, call-to-action button, and other features. See how your changes impact conversions. You may find that one seemingly simple color swap dramatically improves the user experience.

4. Use the right language.

Take a good, hard look at your submit buttons. Do they say “sign up now” or “register”? If so, you’re missing a golden opportunity to increase conversions. Recent testing at Unbounce showed changing just one word to “get” can mean a double-digit conversion lift. Similarly, Formstack’s benchmark research revealed that making your buttons more descriptive can have dramatic effect. Changing “submit form” to “submit registration,” for example, has been shown to improve conversions by up to 250%.

5. Customize.

Does your company serve multiple audiences or industries? If so, you’ll need to customize the look, feel, and content of your forms for each one. You can do this by matching your forms to landing pages or by segmenting your list into groups. This strategy allows you to personalize your surveys and registration forms for each one.

Which of these best practices will you focus on first? What would you add to the list?