Forms are bread-and-butter of website value metrics. For businesses, forms are used for purchases or to collect leads. Other websites are monetized in other ways which use forms, including subscription forms, file downloads, or to complete other value propositions. And like many other web elements, form design can be greatly leveraged to increase conversions and therefore a website’s bottom line. But how? It’s true that most website owners, and even most website developers, use out-of-the-box form solutions without thinking twice about it.
It’s true that almost any form on a website can only be as good as its conversion flow. The steps a visitor must take between arriving on a website and completing a conversion. In most cases, it begins with a CTA button or link which takes users from the arrival page to a landing page with a form and then (once the form is complete) to a thank-you page and the eventual arrival of a confirmation email of the subscription. But while every single point in a conversion flow should be optimized, the form itself is one of the most-forgotten conversion-influencing options.
Forms are a staple of web design. One which hasn’t seen much innovation since the website boom of the ’90s. And whether you’ve built your website from the ground up or have employed developers, it might be a great idea to run through our list of form optimization suggestions for great, easy tips that could lead to a higher conversion rate.
Optimizing Your Form Placement
Your form’s placement is one of the most significant and easily changed elements to optimize. In general, your form should always be above the fold, so that no visitor needs to scroll to find it. This should be especially true for mobile visitors. There should always be evidence of the form without needing to scroll down. For computer visitors, it is usually best to have a form appear alongside clarifying information and value-pitches, rather than above them.
Leverage Your Form CSS
Did you know that the spaces between your field titles and the form fields themselves can influence conversion rates? A form design survey found that even minor space adjustments could increase conversions almost 20%. Split-test different form CSS options to find the optimal appearance of your form on different devices.
It’s always a great idea to find a way to indicate required fields with your CSS. But other great ideas include highlighting unfilled fields and using an in-line captcha. Most large websites use simplified forms with minimal CSS and few visual links to the rest of the website design. The vast majority of successful forms are single-step forms: so consider paring down two-step forms where possible.
Your Form Should Have a Headline
Instead of having a floating form without a headline, it’s always best to have a brief one or two-line headline above the form. That headline should always be a CTA advertising the value of the form. Like ‘Start Your Free Trial’ or ‘Download Your Free ____’. Headlines like these will work alongside other value propositions and increase visitor urgency. If possible, it should be in your website’s contrast color, to draw the eye to the form, and be brief and specific enough to accurately convey what value the visitor is getting in return for providing their information. Offering free resources is one of the most common, but effective, value propositions.
Run a Fast Form Validation Script
Users are likely to click away if any element of a website is running slowly, and this is as true for forms as anything else. Whether your website is running WordPress or custom-coded, not all contact form validation scripts are coded to the highest specifications, you should time the form on various devices to ensure that responses are confirmed in well under a second. If you find that your script is lagging a little, correcting slow form validation scripts is quite simple even for novice web developers.
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The Bottom Line
Whether your form is designed to grow subscribers, to sign up for the website, or to get business leads, small tweaks can help ensure that the form is working hard to increase your website’s conversions.
Dean Spinato, the entrepreneur, online media specialist and the CEO of Powerplay International from New York City, has explained his thoughts quite beautifully on the conversion optimization of any online forms. Check his quote below:
“Simpler forms reduce distractions, but a form should always have a clear CTA header and a clear designation for required fields. Field and title spacing can also impact conversions, and form placement should always be above the fold.”
It’s always a good idea to split-test any adjustments before pulling the trigger on site-wide changes, but in general, a few adjustments typically increase conversion rates.