Aug 09, 2013

Bad Form!

Have you ever found yourself closing out of something you're signing up for or buying because the form is just too long? Do you ever feel like you’re telling your whole life story when you're only trying to sign up for a newsletter? I'm assuming mostly everyone has at one time or another experienced this.

Why do companies still insist on collecting way too much information?

There may not even be any good answer or reason for this at all. It could be that the thought of collecting as much information as possible will somehow benefit them in the future, or it could be as simple as they're just being greedy. In my opinion, if a company is only collecting small amount of essential information, they’re more likely to get more quality signups and in turn happier users.

This makes you wonder how many sign ups, downloads, or even sales a company loses as a result of having long input forms. The biggest question now is figuring out how long is too long? Form creators should be putting as much time and effort as possible into deciding how many fields they should be using as well as to the general usability of the form. They should be scrutinizing over every field knowing the fact that with each added field, it will lessen the chance of a successful conversion.

This is becoming even more essential now that we’re moving even more towards the mobile web. When people are using a mobile device to fill out a form, it becomes even more crucial to present them with short forms that only collect the very essential information. You should also be thinking about good mobile design and interaction. You should make forms as friendly as possible which may include large buttons and less text fields.

What is the essential information?

This all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Is it a simple signup form to receive a newsletter, or is it collecting information for the sale of some items. It seems as these two interactions would require different types of input, but unfortunately it can seem like signing up to receive a newsletter is similar to filling out your taxes.

Less is more.

For example, name and email should suffice for a download or newsletter signup form. In the case of e-commerce, you’ll need to collect the obvious billing and shipping information, but it should be simplified. A good example of simplifying this information can be requiring only one phone number and not a home phone, business phone and mobile phone.

Know your audience.

Are you selling things only within the US? Then why are you requiring folks to put in what country they’re shipping to? You really need to know my personal website address for me to download your white paper? Why?  It is changing little things like these examples that can make filling out your forms a less painful experience for your users and in turn a better conversion rate for you.