If there’s one goal that you should have when you create an online form it is to make it as user-friendly as possible. The more user-friendly your form, the more people will be likely to fill it out – which ultimately is what you want.
While there are many factors that will determine how user-friendly your form is, there are a few rules in particular that you should always follow:
- Keep it as short as possible
Every additional field in your form makes it a little bit more difficult to fill out, so to make it user-friendly you should keep it as short as possible. The best way to do that is to discard any fields that aren’t essential to the form.
On top of that, you should avoid splitting fields into more than a single field wherever possible. For example, your form only needs one name field, and you don’t need to split it into a ‘first name’ and ‘last name’ field.
- Shorten the form labels
As far as possible you should try to shorten the labels of your form so that they can be read more quickly. It should not come at the expense of their descriptiveness, however, and anyone filling out the form should still be able to understand what information the field is meant to contain.
- Use the field size as a hint
The size of each field in your form can provide a subtle hint as to the length of the answer that is expected. It should be large enough to comfortably fit the input that is expected, yet not too large that people begin to question whether they need to add more.
- Add placeholder text with an example
Placeholder text within the field is the perfect way to provide an example of the answer and can clear up any confusion. It is particularly useful when there are multiple ways to format certain answers. For example, your placeholder text could clarify whether dates should be in a day-month-year or month-day-year format.
- Make sure error messages are clear and helpful
If someone filling out your form ever sees an error message, they should immediately know what the problem is and how they can fix it. In other words, it should clearly identify the problem, and suggest a solution if necessary.
Ideally, it is best to use inline validation for your form and display error messages to the right of your fields.
As you may have noticed the rules listed above make the case for why every online form needs to be purpose-built. Although coding online forms can be tricky, you could use an HTML form generator such as AidaForm Online Form Builder instead.
Making your online forms more user-friendly will definitely impact their effectiveness in the long term. Try to test out each online form that you create and determine whether or not there are any problem areas that need to be fixed before you publish it on your website.