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Form Design Principles for User-friendly Lead Generation Forms

There isn’t a fool-proof way to guarantee that your visitors will always end up filling out your forms on site, but there are a ton of form design principles that you can apply to help improve your chances of getting those leads.

Each day, the competition in digital marketing tightens because of the continuously increasing demand for responsive websites. People no longer see websites as merely digital versions of a company profile. They want one which they can interact with. That is why it’s no surprise that businesses and digital marketers are always on the lookout for unique and effective strategies in creating optimized websites.

As seasoned web developers and digital marketers, it is a must to stay ahead of new trends and innovations related to the principles of form design. You should know what comprises a “good design” in relation to the needs of your business or your clients.

At Propelrr, we want you to be successful on your journey on web design by providing you with actionable tips to create good and effective web designs.

Here are 18 best form design principles from experts that will help you on perfecting your website development skills.

Form design principles according to the experts

  1. Keep your form simple
  2. Ask only what’s necessary
  3. The path to completion is a straight line down the page
  4. Avoid error frustrations of your users
  5. Never leave your users guessing at what’s working or not
  6. Always order your form fields from easy to hard
  7. Keep your group-related information in one block
  8. Make your user typing experience easy
  9. Always indicate if a field is required or optional
  10. Keep your users’ contact details in one field
  11. Use of radio buttons instead of drop-down boxes
  12. Avoid making coupon code fields prominent
  13. Create field focus for mobile phone users
  14. You must avoid placing the “clear field buttons”
  15. Never use mask passwords on mobile phone users
  16. Always match the input keyboard for mobile phone accommodation
  17. Limiting your typing options on your website
  18. You must avoid all caps on your website

1. Keep your form simple

Human brains are lazy. That’s why the first of the form design principles we’d like to talk to you about is keeping it simple.

Asking your users to fill out every field on your website can cause hassle and frustration. Remember that one of your objectives as a seasoned web developer is to create a responsive and easy-to-navigate website. 

As much as possible, get rid of unnecessary fields that you think are irrelevant. In optimizing your form fields, decide whether you need to place a form on the website. If you can do away with it, the better. This conversion design principle reduces friction when users fill out numerous fields on your website.

When creating forms for a website, consider these pieces of advice by Mr. Grady, CEO at Geeka Digital Marketing

Another converting form structure is having it minimalistic and straight to the point. The majority of forms nowadays will consist only of a Name & Email or even Website & Email. This captures enough Information to do email-marketing and capture clients.

2. Ask only what’s necessary

Make sure the forms are in logical order and only ask the questions that are required. With narrowed down questions, your users can easily accomplish the forms – increasing form completion rates on your website. 

Now, how will you order the form logically? Well you can always do it from the user’s perspective like making the sequence intuitive (e.g. making it alphabetical or the sequence of the date in a week). Make the experience a “walk in the park” for your users.

Take this helpful advice by Ani Jigarjian, Senior Director, Marketing and Business Development of Boston Digital:

Building effective conversation forms should create as little friction for a user as possible so they can engage.  A good rule of thumb is to only capture the information you need from the user.  The more they have to give over, the less likely they are to fill out the form.  

3. The path to completion is a straight line down the page

Presenting a single column in your form fields will help your users avoid misinterpreting the fields. If you use a single straight line column, it will be easier for users to follow the flow of the process.

It is advisable to place one set of questions in one single column. Avoid separating the continuation of your question by making another column, because the main key in this method is for your users to avoid interpreting the fields incorrectly.

4. Avoid error frustrations of your users

You cannot avoid your users to commit some errors when they navigate on your website. When creating your website it is important for you to consider your users’ experience when they deal with error messages.

When your users are frustrated, there is a high chance of them abandoning your website and transferring to your competitor. Avoid getting caught in this situation with these tips:

  • Use a microcopy. You can use a microcopy to guide your users by giving them instructions in answering a certain field. This can lessen errors.
  • Choose your language in pointing out errors. Carefully select the language that you will use in pointing out the errors your users made. Do not let them feel that they are the one to blame for the mistake.
  • Be human. Avoid using jargon or technical language when creating error messages, and be conversational as if talking to another person.

Be clear on the errors made with the aid of error messages that clearly define the problem that your user is facing. 

5. Never leave your users guessing at what’s working or not

Use the inline form-field validation. This is an effective way to alert, locate, and correct errors made by your users in real time. 

Here are some benefits of using the inline form-field validation that can help your users.

  • Locating errors easier

Users will be aware of the errors they made and they can easily locate where they made a mistake. They are alerted in real-time. 

  • Field context is fresh in mind

Because your users receive real-time notifications on their errors, the inputs and context are still fresh in their minds. Hence, the amount of time needed to make the corrections is decreased.

  • Positive inline validation increases confidence

Your users do not need to review and validate the form of errors before submitting it. They can instantly proceed to the next field trusting that their input is valid.

  • They will avoid to  unintentionally skip field requirements

Aside from making sure that the inputs are valid, your users will be notified if they skipped one field requirement as they navigate your website. 

6. Always order your form fields from easy to hard

This aspect of form design principles allows you to provide users with an easy navigation experience when filling out form fields.

Putting the easiest field form first can encourage your users to engage with your website. A difficult field might be overwhelming and result in an abandoned page.

Take this helpful advice by Ani Jigarjian, Senior Director, Marketing and Business Development of Boston Digital:

If available, use progressive registration and/or personalization, meaning to slowly collect the information on the user and use that to pre-fill form fields that are needed.  Start with the name and email, then eventually get their job title, or any other pertinent information.

You must group your related information into one block (e.g. the flow of your question must resemble another). This is like having a conversation with your user. 

By applying this method, it will be convenient for your users to sense what you want them to answer and to fill in the different fields that you require.

8. Make your user typing experience easy

One way in making your users’ typing experience easy is by adding an autofill feature on your page. This decreases users’ chances of committing an error and saves their time filling out forms.

Devon Fata, the CEO of Pixoul, a premier design thinking firm, shares some thoughts on using autofill:

Good form design comes down to a few key features focused on keeping your customer engaged and not too frustrated.

Additionally, Fata recommends that forms on your website should be:

  • Compatible with autofill features. Especially if you’re looking for basic contact information such as name, address, and phone number, this will save your users a ton of time.
  • Require only what is actually required. Don’t make a customer fill in a line they may not have a real answer for. This makes more work for them, and more work for you when it is time to wade through the data.
  • Save what the customer has already filled in. This is especially important when checking for errors. 

9. Always indicate if a field is required or optional

Help your users decide whether or not to fill in a field. Indicate if a piece of information is required or merely optional. You may mark a required field with an asterisk and label it with the word “required”.

10. Keep your users’ contact details in one field

Create your contact form design in one field for your users’ convenience. This technique will help them focus on answering one field at a time. 

Alexa Fernandez, Director of Digital Experiences Marketing and Sales of the company Digitally, has some advice in creating forms:

I think the biggest tip for creating an effective website form that converts is not overwhelming the user. Companies often believe that if you get all of the information you need in a form fill, then that will make the process easier on the back end. 

In reality, this simply intimidates the user and instead of filling out the form they click over to the next website. In this day and age users want something that is super quick and painless.

11. Use of radio buttons instead of drop-down boxes

You must offer radio buttons to your users instead of drop-down boxes. The main reason for this is the time and effort needed in using drop-down boxes or the select menu.

Radio buttons are your advantage because when you list options it will not be difficult for users to search for the type of service or product you are inquiring about. This will save them time and avoid the frustration of finding the right option to select.

12. Avoid making coupon code fields prominent

Avoid making coupon code fields prominent on your website for better user experience. Imagine if a user, with no coupon code, navigates your website and sees that coupon codes are required to proceed. 

Chances are that prospective users will just leave your page and just go to your competition. Avoid using coupon code fields prominently and simply create a microcopy or a textlink.

13. You must avoid placing the “clear field buttons”

The clear fields button can be frustrating. It erases all information with a single click, which may be done accidentally. 

Chances are your users will be frustrated and will not fill up the fields again and will just quickly leave your website grumbling.

14. Create field focus for mobile phone users

Always remember this method when you create a mobile form design. Since most users are on their mobile devices, make your input field prominent and focused. Keep in mind that mobile phone screens give less visual control over the form.

15. Never use mask passwords on mobile phone users

While it is true that masking passwords provide security for your users when they type it, there is a disadvantage. Users are prone to make errors when typing it because they can not see the characters as they type.

This situation slows the completion of your user and sometimes leads to frustration, even abandonment of the page.

16. Always match the input keyboard for mobile phone accommodation

Typing on fields using a laptop offers a different experience from using a smartphone. 

Ani Jigarjian, Senior Director, Marketing and Business Development of Boston Digital, offers some important insights:

Make sure the forms are mobile-first.  They need to be easily clickable, check boxes/radios easy to touch, and filling in longer text areas easy to do on a smartphone.  Most users are on their mobile devices these days and the forms need to take that into consideration.

17. Limiting your typing options on your website

Providing too many fields to fill out is time consuming and likely frustrating for your users. Try to limit typing options to avoid errors and to speed up page completion. You may opt for dropdown menus or tickable options. 

18. You must avoid all caps on your website

The last thing you’ll need to remember about form design principles is that you must avoid all caps on your website forms.

This because forms with no character variations can be difficult to read for some people. It’s easy to mistake a small letter ‘l’ for a capital letter ‘I’, after all.

This may be a small thing to you, but when the completion of a lead capture is in question, you wouldn’t want to be risk it. This situation will lead to mistakes or errors by users, or worse, even abandonment of the conversion, all because they couldn’t understand the text clearly.

Key takeaways

Take note of important elements and principles of design form when developing a website. Always put your users’ convenience and ease of use in mind. 

  • Remember that user experience is the lifeblood of your website. If your website is not user friendly, then there is no chance that your visitors will accomplish their goal on your pages.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your users. If a design is problematic for you, then it must be the same for them.
  • Never hesitate to contact or ask for help from experts to learn more skills in web design and marketing.

Want help with your web design and marketing or want to talk to us more about improving your lead generation forms? Comment down below or talk to us through our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

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