Tuesday, December 18, 2012

0 8 Simple Rules for Effective Web Forms

Web forms are the best way to gather information from users. A simple and straightforward method, web forms provide valuable information without scaring users away. Here are some tips on how to keep web forms simple and easy-to-use for customers visiting your website:

-          Design With a Purpose and Keep it Simple
No one has the patience to fill an extensively long form. Remove all unnecessary elements from your form and only keep the ones that provide a tangible benefit. The structure of the form itself also holds great value. Many people, when reading forms, read from left to right and often use the Tab button to scroll through the page. Your form should incorporate these from the get-go.

-          Tailor Your Form According to the Situation
Your form should relate to the issue at hand or the nature of the information that you wish to gather. Before designing the form, there are some questions you need to ask yourself first; what are you asking? Why? Is the form something your users want to fill our or something that they are required to fill out? Answering yourself these questions will help decide the layout of the form. 

-          Use What You Need
Only use elements that you believe will benefit you and your website. Leave the rest out. One element that is almost always unnecessary is the ‘Reset’ button. The only thing the ‘Reset’ button is good for is for erasing all information the user has put in, eventually leading to the user leaving the site in frustration.

-          Use Short and Clean Descriptions When Necessary
You may need to explain to the user why you’re collecting information, especially when it concerns personal information such as a phone number or an address. This helps reduce confusion and helps put the user at ease, not to mention, ensures that the data is accurate and correct.

-          Be the First to Communicate
The wording of questions in the form should be friendly, almost conversational. For example, instead of asking ‘Full Name’, you can reword it into ‘What’s Your Name?’

-          Divide the Form into Bite-Sized Sections
The form should be a two-way communication; acquiring information does not mean throwing a bunch of questions to the user all in one block. You can accompany each query with horizontal or colored one liners that separate the form into small chunks, making way for a streamlined and user-friendly website

-          Include Meaningful Contextual Error Messages
Your error messages should be clear and helpful. Let the user know what the error is and what caused. It will even help if the field that is causing the error is highlighted.

-          Release the User
When the user clicks the ‘Submit’ button, they are ready to be on their way. In a regular meeting, you would wave goodbye and wish him a good day. Your form should be no different. You can end with a message thanking the user for his time and promising to get in touch with him in the future. Always include a link to your main website on this page.


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