15 Web Form Fails: CEO Marketing Tips

July 02, 2013

Web forms are the communication gateway between you and your customer. Effective web forms attract orders, leads, and inquiries; bad forms send business to your competitors. Avoid these web form fails and your business will be on your way to more conversions.

  1. Requiring too much information. A web form is an invitation, not an interrogation.
  2. Requesting too much information. For optional form fields, when in doubt, leave them out.
  3. Unclear, overly subtle labeling of required fields. A required field should be as obvious to users as the nose on their face.
  4. Poor positioning. Users won't scroll down to find your form or play Where's Waldo on a crowded page design.
  5. Confusing instructions. If a field requires five seconds of thought, it's four too many.
  6. Hard to find error messages. Users become frustrated when their submissions fail and they can't figure out why.
  7. Unclear expectations. Users should know exactly what will happen next when they submit the form.
  8. Using submit. "Submit" buttons are a turnoff. Better is to describe the activity, e.g., "Sign Up Now."
  9. Itty bitty buttons. If people need a magnifying glass to "Sign Up Now," any submissions will be a matter of blind luck.
  10. No privacy message. Users don't want their information sold or shared -- you must reassure them.
  11. Confusing error messages. Making errors on a web form is frustrating enough. When the instructions for fixing them are incomprehensible, users tend to throw chairs through their computer monitors.
  12. Unstated password requirements. If you have specific password requirements, it's only logical to advise users in advance rather than slap their wrists after the fact.
  13. No motivation. Please: Give me one good reason to request a quote or download your PDF.
  14. No confirmation. Upon submission, it's only common courtesy (and common sense) to let the user know you've received the request.
  15. No testing. The best way to nip form problems in the bud is to try them before taking them live. An obvious step that many firms inexplicably skip.
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