Over the years we have developed multiple solutions for clients to gather data from users, often with fairly complex or comprehensive form requirements.
Form design is a particular skill, and requires collaboration with UX designers, marketers and data collectors to reach the sweet spot of gathering enough data to be meaningful, while asking for a small enough amount that users’ perception of the process is that it is quick and easy.
There are various methods to improve the user experience of forms and encourage form completions while gathering useful data.
Form structure and headings
The first step with a form is to consider the user’s perception of the information. Does it look overwhelming? Does it look easy to fill in?
Longer forms should be broken down into manageable stages, with both multiple pages of the form (with a clear design showing there are more pages) and different sections in the form separated by headings.
The order of form inputs is important too – one of the most surefire ways to put someone off filling in the form is if the first question is open-ended or requires a lot of effort.
Start with the easy questions that users can answer instinctively – like name or age.
Keep your form design very simple – users will be distracted enough and will need you to help them focus on the task at hand.
Require as little effort as possible
The truth is, website users have little to no energy to spend on your website. They are often either on a mobile device, multitasking, or thinking about what they’re going to do after being on your website – or all three.
The most obvious way to help users is to create large, easily clickable buttons and form inputs. Instead of traditional checkboxes, show large checkbox buttons. Instead of a fiddly multiselect dropdown, show a large text dropdown where the user can type to filter results.
A postcode lookup or car reg lookup is also a great example of a tool to reduce the amount of work for a user. Can other API services be used to fill in information for the user easily?
Users will be frustrated if they fill in most of the form only to find they need to enter their passport number at the end, which they don’t have on them right now. In this case, the first page of the form should explain anything the user might need to have to hand in order to complete the form.
Alternatively, for long forms, allow the user to save their progress and pick up where they left off later.
Provide visual feedback
Perception is everything – users should see what to expect from your form when they arrive. If your form has multiple stages, show that up front along with a clear indication of how far through they are.
Data should be validated in real time – don’t wait for a user to fill in your entire form only to find out they’ve missed a required field or missed a digit off their phone number. As the user enters information, show ticks or warnings if that data is valid or invalid, in real time. Moneysupermarket do this to great effect when renewing car insurance.
Moreover, utilise external APIs to further sanitise and validate data – for example third party services that will validate a phone number or email is not only in a valid format but is actually in use.
We’ve enabled many clients to simplify their forms, increase conversions and gather meaningful data from their websites. A few examples are below.
Insurance quote generator
Including rate limiting to avoid competitors submitting quote requests.
Charity donation forms
Enable users to donate money as a one-off or recurring amount.
Business contract set up including creating a quote, entering business info, signing a contract and setting up a direct debit – all without leaving the form.
Energy claim form
Submitting a business energy claim, including calculating eligibility in real time and informing the user throughout the process.
Emissions claim form
Submitting a diesel emissions claim, including car registration lookup and realtime eligibility feedback.
Office space calculator
Calculator tool from a property company to enable office-based businesses to calculate the sqft of office space required for their team
Investment yield calculator
Calculator tool to estimate yield from an investment opportunity, including sliders and controls to adjust variables and see how they affect the yield
Document request form
Allowing users to request brochures, magazines or annuals via an online form, checking as few or as many editions as they need.