Keep it short
However cool you think your form is, the fact is your users don’t like to fill them. As an avid Internet user myself, I have to battle through dozens of forms every week, getting in touch with people, registering new accounts, and so on.
And let me tell you: at least once or twice a week, I don’t submit a form I initially intended to, just because the form is too long and/or asking for info I don’t want to submit. So if you want people to submit your form, keep it short and simple.
Here’s my recommendations on the matter:
- Just ask what you really need to know
- Use default choices (if you own a business in the US, most people who’ll get in touch will be from the US as well, so if you’re asking for their country, make sure that “USA” is the default!)
- Don’t overuse mandatory fields. If someone tries to reach you by email, there’s really no point in requesting a phone number!
- On registration forms, offer the possibility to register with Facebook and Twitter.
Use Ajax validation
There’s nothing more annoying than filling a long form, submitting it and… have to correct it and submit it over and over again, just because for example the username you’ve chosen has already been taken. I personally remember giving up registering on a few websites because of this.
I already talked on CatsWhoCode about a very useful jQuery plugin named jQuery Form. It makes Ajax validation very easy, so make use of it to provide a better experience to your users.
Make sure it’s mobile friendly
Nowadays, most people are accessing the Internet with a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet. This is why you must always make sure that your forms are responsive and mobile-friendly. It’s really annoying when a form isn’t adapted to mobile browsing, and it might prevent many people from actually using your form.
Give people other ways to reach you
Are you on Twitter? Do you have a Facebook page for your site? Then, make use of social networks and provide links to your social media profiles and pages. Emails are great for in-depth, private conversation, but for a first contact, many people nowadays will prefer to use Twitter or Facebook.
Take it easy with captchas
Spam is a nuisance, we all know that. The favorite way of website owners to protect themselves from receiving countless spam emails a day is to use a CAPTCHA. CAPTCHAs aren’t bad by nature, but if you don’t want your users to give up sending your form, please, don’t use those unreadable, brown on black CAPTCHAs. Spam is your problem, not that of your users!
Use the correct HTML5 input types
All modern browsers support HTML5 and its numerous additions to forms input types. Regardless, an incredibly huge amount of websites still use forms that were coded ten years ago.
HTML5 makes it easier for your users to complete forms and is widely supported, so there’s absolutely no reason not to use it. Check the article below for a reminder of the input types introduced by the HTML5 spec.
That may sound simple, but actually all of the above tips are meaningless if you fail to answer on time to your visitors’ requests. Things are fast on the internet, and the competition is tough. So if somebody contacts you through your website and hasn’t heard back from you in 24 hours, you can be sure that this person is going to contact your competitor. Take pride in providing top-notch service!