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4 Painless Ways to Shorten Your Form and Get the Data You Need

July 21, 2014
Min Read

Long forms can be off-putting, so you know you should keep your forms short. The problem is, your form is long so that you can capture data! How are you supposed to shorten your form and still get the information you want? We at Formstack know you want the best of both worlds. You can have a shorter form and still capture good data. Try these insider tricks, and you can build a shorter—but effective—online form.

1. Build a smart form.

Formstack can automatically show or hide questions based on how users fill out your form. This feature, called Conditional Logic, is the best way to shorten your form but still capture all the data you need. With Conditional Logic, users are only presented with questions that are relevant to them. It automatically creates a customized form experience.How does it work? Suppose a user selects the option, “Yes, I am a first-time customer.” You can set up Conditional Logic to ask a follow-up question like, “How did you hear about us?” If the user selects, “No, I am not a first-time customer,” the follow-up question will not appear.

Conditional Logic is simple to set up. Visit our support page to get the step-by-step instructions.

2. Give a breather with page breaks.

Sometimes, a short form just isn’t feasible. We have a solution: break up your online form into multiple pages. Job or scholarship applications, for example, tend to be longer. They are great forms to take advantage of page breaks. You can even include a Save & Resume option to let users take their time.

Add a form progress bar when building a form with multiple pages. You’ll reduce your abandonment rate because users will know exactly how far along they are. Adding page breaks to your form only takes one drag-and-drop motion. Check out how to insert them in your form here.

3. Welcome to the matrix (field).

A matrix field lets you ask several similar questions at once. In a satisfaction survey, include a matrix with a scale of “very satisfied” to “very unsatisfied,” or from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” If you have several questions that could be measured along the same scale, give a matrix field a try.

The advantage of a matrix is that it appears in your form as a single unit but captures multiple data points. Unlike short- or long-answer questions, matrix fields can be turned into charts and graphs for data reporting. Learn how to add a matrix form field here.

4. Go sideways with horizontal options.

If your online form includes checkboxes or radio buttons, create the appearance of a shorter form by changing their layout. Click on the field you would like to change. Then, select Option Layout > Horizontal. Your choices will then be laid out left-to-right instead of top-to-bottom. Keep in mind that this trick doesn’t shorten the actual content of your form: you are simply creating the appearance of a shorter form.

If you're not a Formstack customer, sign up for a free trial here to test these features now!


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Formstack is a SaaS company with a mission to help organizations digitize what matters, automate workflows, and fix processes—all without code. A variety of team members come together to compile posts under Formstack's authorship.
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