Often how a website’s forms are designed have a large impact on its conversion rate. We’ve seen many case studies like this famous one from Expedia explain how removing unnecessary fields and streamlining the User Experience (UX) can lead to impressive conversion rate gains.

Reducing friction increases conversion rate, and leads it to becoming a key element in the successes of a website.

Remove, clarify, indicate

There are three key factors, from a design point-of-view, to help increase conversion in your form.

1. Remove

A lot of online forms ask for superfluous information from the user, which acts as a conversion killer. From a business point-of-view this information would be extremely useful for future business development like creating segmented marketing campaigns for example.

However increasing the barriers to entry will only serve to frustrate the user and see them go elsewhere for what they’re looking for. It’s important to remember that when a user has abandoned a form, your company has lost a potential customer.

2. Clarify

Clarify
Labels, supporting notes and inline validation all put to good use

A lack of clear requirements can confuse users and lead to invalid input errors so it’s imperative that each piece of information asked of the user is clearly defined and understandable.

Labels can be accompanied by supporting notes helping to explain what’s required e.g. credit card number – you could support this request with a small line like ‘Enter the 16 digit number on the front of your card’.

Inline validation will also help reduce input errors as the user is immediately aware of an error and how they can fix the problem.

3. Indicate

When reducing your form fields, if you can’t remove an optional field, you could add the word optional to the label to indicate that it’s not required. Small adjustments like this can help increase conversion.

Generally when indicating required and optional fields I tend to employ the following rules as determined by Luke Wroblewski.

Indicate required fields when:

  • There are lots of fields
  • But few are required
  • Enables user to scan the form to see what is required to be filled in

Indicate optional fields when:

  • Few fields are optional

Convey value and create trust

People are naturally cautious about giving away their personal information, and this is especially true to smaller companies who aren’t as recognisable and credible as large companies like Amazon.

You need to illustrate how exactly you are providing value to the user. Whether the user is buying a product, enquiring about a service or receiving a free eBook, it’s up to you to explicitly tell them what they will receive in exchange for parting with some personal information.

In order to demonstrate your trust-worthiness to get a user will fill out your form, you can draw some actions from social proofing. For example, users are influenced by testimonials (especially with images), news stories and statistics of expected/gained results.

Design and test on mobile

If you’ve ever attempted to fill out a form on your mobile device you can probably appreciate how difficult this can be. Therefore the best way to test how usable your form is, is to use it on a mobile device. Improving the UX for mobile users will translate for users across all devices.

It will also be easy to spot how some standard input types aren’t usable on mobile. For example, select fields are extremely complex, as the user has to perform a minimum of taps:

  1. Tap select field
  2. Tap chosen option after potentially scrolling through a list
  3. Tap done

This can be replaced with a stepper control that allows the user to tap to incrementally increase or decrease the value e.g. number of guests. It’s important to remember to only use stepper control in appropriate circumstances.

Stepper UI on a form
Stepper control UI in action on a form

Conclusion

Take another look at the forms on your website and analyse your conversion rate. Chances are they could be improved with some of the measures I’ve mentioned, which means you are missing out on leads and sales.

It’s important to remember that designing forms to increase conversion rates not only helps towards your business objectives but also allows a user to perform a task they want to ensuring their experience is positive.