The essentials for every online form

March 5, 2019 Published by

What information we ask for in an online form is often a hotly debated subject amongst marketers. Many will claim that more information is better whereas others simply want a telephone number to ring so they can have a chat. The truth of the matter is that there is no magical number of fields or a one-size-fits-all solution. It is entirely dependent on your website visitors.

So instead of focusing on what I recommend in terms of the fields to have in your form, I am going to highlight essential functionality that every form should have, regardless of what you are asking or who the visitors to your website are.

Numeric Keypad:

A lot of forms ask for you to enter numbers, such as if you’re a business and they’re asking how many employees you have, but they fail to set the form to a numeric keypad. This requires mobile users to switch from the keyboard to the numeric keypad on their phone, which is an unnecessary barrier.

Unfortunately, too many websites have forms that force users to make the switch manually on their mobile devices. We are in 2019. This should not be the norm. According to Statista, over half of all Internet traffic is from mobile devices. So don’t make the majority of people who visit your website work harder.

It’s easy enough for a developer to change your website, so don’t wait. If you have a form on your website asking for number entries, get it changed.

The ‘at’ Sign (@):

On a similar line to numeric keypads, the ‘at’ sign is required whenever you ask for an email address. Don’t make mobile users work harder by not setting up your form correctly. If you identify the form as an email input, mobile devices see this and change the keyboard accordingly.

Field Labels:

This may sound obvious, but we are not talking about simply adding text next to each field that clarifies what you’re asking for. We are talking about labelling the form itself. This will add text into the form that clarifies again what you’re asking for.

You may think this is overkill, but we are really trying to eliminate anyone having issues with your form. Don’t know what we are talking about? Look at the example below. It states twice what you are asking for in each input field and this greatly helps users as it eliminates guesswork.

Hint Text:

Not all forms are simply requesting a name, phone number and email address. Sometimes you do want very specific information that may not be easy to understand from a simple title above the field (e.g. “Detail your problem”).

Provide your visitors with clarification on what you want by adding hint text. This could be in the form of a small question mark that people can hover over or click on a mobile device to get a little pop-up that provides guidelines on what information you’re asking for.

If a user does get stuck and then clicks the question mark, it reduces the chance of them abandoning your form altogether, as you are offering them help.

Error Messages/Form Validation:

Provide as much as a helping hand as possible. Even if you’ve done everything we’ve listed above, users are still likely to encounter errors every now and then. One common issue is people mistyping their email address.
Ensure your form has validation on key fields, such as when you’re asking for an email address. Simple validation can be created to ensure people add an “at” sign and much more.

You are not just helping yourself here, you are also helping your users. It’s a win-win situation as you are getting valid information and they are not going to be submitting information that could lead to them not getting a response (e.g. you are unable to email them as their email address was wrong and they didn’t provide a telephone number).

A Clear Call-To-Action:

At the end of your form, don’t simply opt for a run-of-the-mill “Submit” button. I know it may sound odd, but people still do drop-out after entering all their details, so emphasise the reason they have filled out the form to encourage them to click the button.

The actual wording you should use depends upon what people are submitting information For. Below are a few examples that are based upon the information a user has entered. Hopefully this gets your creative juices flowing so you can write more detailed call-to-action buttons for your forms.

  • Final Step >
  • Complete Transaction >
  • Enter Shipping Details >
  • Start Application >
  • Send Application >
  • Apply Now >
  • Request a Call Back >

With a master’s in psychology, one thing Paul knows is human behaviour, even if he doesn’t show it. He is passionate about E-commerce, Coding, Photography, and Travel and can often be found having his own conversations and muttering to himself.

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