5 tips for improving the completion rate of online forms

| 04 Sep, 2014

Online forms and data collection are a crucial part of interacting with website visitors. The information may be needed to complete site registration, to successfully checkout, or to accept a student for online enrollment. Regardless of the situation and desired outcome, digital forms are now an essential part of visitor interaction on most sites. With so many of our dealings with clients online, itŠ—'s critical that the experience is seamless.

To provide this seamless experience, all necessary forms should be easy to access and complete online. However, converting forms to digital can sometimes be a difficult task. Some forms just wonŠ—'t translate easily into an online format. If the form is too cumbersome, takes too long to load, or takes too long to compete, the chance of the client completing it is slim to none. To avoid this, weŠ—'ve compiled a list of five tips to consider when it comes to online forms.ξ


Keep visitors informed

Set expectations early. When a visitor lands on your form page one of their first thoughts is usually: How long is this going to take? This is especially true when you present visitors with a longer form.

Provide clear visual and text cues to your visitors. This will help set expectations and build trust.

form with clear visual and text cues


Provide supporting text and callouts

Make it easy for your visitors to complete a form. Provide helpful text and visual callouts when appropriate. This is especially important when creating forms for international visitors.

When a form is easy to use, you also help yourself. When visitors enter good data, you have normalized data to utilize. Everybody wins with helpful form fields!

form field explanations

Notice that last image? Always tell visitors what the password requirements are before they try to submit the form.


Make your visitor feel secure

Include visual and textual assurance of information security on all form pages. Password and information security are more important than ever before. There is news about data breaches almost every week. You donŠ—'t want that kind of news coverage.

Even when the information shared is not financial or confidential in nature, secure every form. A feeling of security helps build trust.


Allow visitors to save progress on long forms

DonŠ—'t make it the visitorŠ—'s responsibility to fill a form out again if something happens. Nothing will crush a visitorŠ—'s motivation more than to have to fill in the same form more than once. Internet connection disruptions and work/life distractions could interrupt a visitor during the process, or maybe they simply need to take a break. Guard against data loss and allow the visitor to pick up where they left off by creating a process that saves data at each step of the form. Then provide clear visual cues that the application is saved at every step.

This is most important with longer forms that need to capture more data.


Ability to save progress and complete later is vital


Optimize your online form for mobile use

This tip is a sure bet to garner more successful form completions. Guaranteed. When you look at your form analytics, you will most likely notice an increase in mobile visits over the last few years. Need more evidence that a mobile-optimized form will improve your completion rate? Here is a quote from Pew Research* about mobile usage:

'34% of cell internet users go online mostly using their phones, and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.'

*Source: Pew Research Mobile Technology Fact Sheet

Case in point. Which of these experiences would you prefer?

Mobile optimized form vs. non optimized form - which would you fill out?


If you design a form using a mobile-first responsive design, you're saving yourself from mobile design revisions later. Responsive web forms are optimized to screen widths, not to specific devices, which means every mobile visitors can have the same great experience with your online form.


Optimize online forms today

You can make many of these improvements to any online forms without a lot of development time. Providing visitors with better form usability may extend your internal project'Š—s timeline and budget a bit but it will be worth the effort when you have all those successfully completed forms.

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