Right now I’m designing a new look for a couple of websites and they both use a lot of web forms. One thing I’ve done with the new design is revamp all the web forms and reduce the amount of information needed to be filled in to the bare minimum. The idea is to make the forms very easy to fill in and very informative.

Here’s a few tips for creating great forms:

Keep It Simple
Only ask for the information you really need. If your form is too long or has fields that seem irrelevant to the person filling it in then you’ll probably be losing leads and enquiries. Do you really need to know a date of birth and gender?Keep your form even simpler by getting rid of Cancel or Clear buttons next to the Submit button. I’ve hit Clear instead of Submit before and you just have to type it all in again. These buttons are not really very useful and leaving them out will simplify your form.

Explain Your Forms Fields
Obviously name and address is easy to understand but if you are asking for more involved information then help your customer to fill it in. I use JQuery Tool Tips that appear when you hover over the form explaining more about what information is required. See the pic below.

Tool Tips

Don’t Use Captchas!
Captchas are great for stopping spam but can also irritate the life out of the person filling in the form. I’ve sat there for ages refreshing the image becasue I can’t read the text properly and if I type it in wrong I’ll have to fill out the form again! These text boxes can be a real pain!

Only use a Captcha if you are getting lots of spam from a form. Leaving it out will make your form easier to fill in.

Validate Your Form
There are 100’s of scripts available for free that will check that form information has been filled in correctly and if not warn the user to try again. Only validate the fields that need validating like dates and email and set required fields for information that you really need. Searching Google will give you lots of validation methods.

Make Your Forms Pretty
But not too pretty! You want to make sure that the style of your text boxes fits in well with your website but don’t go over the top with styling your form. People know what forms look like online and if yours is dressed up to look like something else its not going to get spotted very well. Here’s a whole bunch of pretty forms.

In conclusion your forms should be easy to fill in and as short as possible with instructions for tricky fields. If you keep everything as simple as possible you should be able to generate more leads and enquiries.

Let me know how you get on.