Web forms are used for all different types of data submission, video submitting, contacting, blogging, registering, or for ordering items online. All the forms come in different flavors, large or small, black or white, short or long. Therefore, forms are very important to you and your users, thus, making them just right is the key to increase usage.
Below we cover six tips to improve your forms for better exposure and usability.
Not Too Large, Not Too Small
A major issue with many forms out there is their sizes, many developers or designers try to fit long forms into small spaces, reducing the size of the input boxes greatly making it difficult for users to proofread what they enter. A good ideal size for each input box, which includes large text boxes and the likes, really depends on the amount of data you expect a user to input.
For example, let us say you run a blogging service, you know that blogs can be short or long, thus, giving the textbox a good width and height is really the key. Users want to be able to easily proofread their blog post before it makes it live via the textbox, so fairly large text is also a plus, so they can easily catch typing mistakes or missing punctuation.
To give a good example of a situation where an effect like this can help, let us look at a forum script. Suppose you are creating a forum script where users will be able to discuss certain topics, as you know, posts can be short or long. If a user’s post happens to be long, scrolling through the textbox is an undesired thing to do, as the user cannot quite view the entire posting. Therefore, providing an auto-expanding effect is quite helpful. As the user’s text gets near the bottom of the textbox, it will automatically expand a few lines, keeping your users satisfied.
Easy to Understand
Many users are turned away from forms that are difficult to work with. Hence, it is a definite must to be clear and precise about the information being collected as if they cannot understand what you need, chances are you will not receive what you needed. Another aspect to look at is just because it may be understandable to you, does not mean it will be understandable to your audience. Therefore, it is in your best interest to ask for feedback on understandability of your forms.
Not Too Much, Not Too Little
Another key aspect that causes users to turn away from completing your forms is that your forms ask for too much information. Users want to be completing the form to continue rather than spend the time filling them out. Thus, it is key for you to keep your forms as short as possible. For example, if your form is a registration form to an online service, leaving account settings whether optional or not out of the registration forms makes the form look shorter and easier to fill out increasing the chances of user registrations.
Moreover, leave the information you do not need immediately out of the form, and have them choose to enter the information later at their own leisure or when it becomes necessary. If the information that you may taken out is absolutely necessary within a few days of signing up, have them fill the information out a day later, such as when they sign back in, you can easily prompt them to fill the information out before continuing. This splits the lengthy form into two easy to fill and understand forms, keeping them happy.
A Simple Uncluttered Design
The design of a form additionally impacts the users experience. Your users do not want to bounce back and forth to get to each form field in order; they want to be able to easily fill the fields sequentially without trouble. Therefore, the design for the form should be as simple as possible leaving the fields easily accessible in the order intended.
Understandable Security Measures
While users understand security measures applied to forms help prevent spam, they also do not want to struggle to complete a form. With that said, complex spam prevention tools such as CAPTCHA images cause less completed form submissions from frustrated users. I myself have left many forms that I had intended to fill out due to their hard to work with security measures. Thus, as a developer or creator, creativity is what is needed to avoid the spammers but not the users.
Many new ideas and techniques have become apparent such as mathematical questions, slider prevention systems, as well as others. My personal favorite that I found very intuitive and easy to use is a drag and drop security measure. The user simply drags a shape requested from a palette of shapes right into the shape box, if you selected the requested shape, the form will submit. As it is simple and easy to use, your users will enjoy playing with the tool, as well as keep spammers out of the way.
Overall, getting your users to complete your form is a process that requires thought and ingenuity. With that said, creating a form is easy, but getting it properly designed, formed, and well laid out is tricky however an attainable aspect, but if it is done correctly, it can rewarding. To conclude, keep your forms as simple as possible and as down to the point as it can possibly get.
Ask around for feedback about the design and layout for whether the form can be easily filled out, whether it is easy to understand, and if it is easy to follow. Improve your form accordingly, and it would be ready to hit mainstream.