5 Tips and Tricks for Designing User-Friendly Webforms

Whether you are selling a product, promoting a cause, or building your network/ following, if you are asking somebody to input information of any kind, one rule is king:

Don’t waste the user’s time!

This idea has to be at the forefront of the designer’s mind throughout the process of each decision they make to maximize their odds of success. While this might seem obvious, it’s still worth taking a closer look at the importance of this:

Why User-Friendliness is Important in Webforms

Webforms represent an ask.

For this reason, making the experience seamless is important as any delay or confusion disrupts the process and risks compromising the entire objective. Issues such as server speed aren’t the only consideration – it’s baked right into user experience doctrine. When people become overwhelmed by an ocean of form fields, they just shut down. Even those who attempt to fill out such a form will find it too much work.

Government forms have traditionally been notorious examples of this and some job applications. Though you could argue that this is intentional, the point still stands: If your form is difficult, slow, unclear, or irrelevant, you will miss out on conversions, ROI, and all of the good things that you are looking for to achieve. Let’s take a closer look at how we can create a smoother, faster, more streamlined, and, most importantly, more effective web form.

How to Make Your Webforms More User Friendly

1)   Less is More (and when it’s not)

In a way, we’ve already touched on this philosophy above, but it’s worth hammering on the point. Whether it’s sales, advertising, copywriting, or even writing code – the key is to be clear and concise. Some proven techniques for this include using a single-column format. Even your logo or label should be in line at the top to improve the ‘scanability’ of your form.

As such, you want as few form fields as possible to allow focus, accessibility, and, subsequently, clarity of your form. The second people are confused or overwhelmed, their trust diminishes. That means you need to select your form fields based on relevance. It’s also worth mentioning the one exception to this rule – placeholder text.

Studies have shown that placeholder text actually tends to cause form fields to remain unfilled, nullifying any perceived benefit of saving space on the form. That doesn’t mean your forms should be cluttered:

Here’s a Tip: 

You can use floating labels on your form fields to get around this and still save space without resorting to the placeholder text.

2)   Limit & Label Optional Fields

As a rule, you should also avoid optional fields, but if you can’t get around it, you can still apply best practices.

Mark them as optional, rather than marking the rest of the fields with the red ‘required’ asterix. This allows you to be transparent while maintaining your perception as friendly and inviting rather than authoritative and demanding.

3)   Use the Right Tools

Using the right form backend to design and support your forms is important to creating a successful campaign. Headlessforms.cloud is a great tool that developers use to save time writing their own backends for things like receiving submissions and autogenerating replies. Writing a backend to support this could be tedious, but it doesn’t have to be.

Rather than spend hours on that, they can power their forms effectively in minutes using the right tools. There are actually a lot of other benefits like 3rd party integration and access to user testing and feedback.

We highly recommend looking into using the right tools to suit your needs after this article, so you can start there but most importantly, see what works for you.

4)   Captcha

Security and convenience have long been at odds, and older forms of captcha embody this struggle perfectly. While they have long been touted as easy for humans to solve and difficult for bots, a better solution has emerged in ReCaptcha. This newer version works differently, using behavioral detection to sniff out bots rather than the mild degradation and inconvenience of demanding your users prove that they’re human through a test.

This is another area where it really helps to use a solid form-building tool. Sticking with the same example, headlessforms.cloud comes with several layers of advanced spam protection, allowing you to circumnavigate the security versus ease of use dilemma altogether, and simply collect your submissions. Our final tip also deals with another aspect of this front:

5)   Enable Social Logins

There are no two ways around it; creating accounts is annoying. Fact, full-stop. In keeping with the ‘less is more mentality, wouldn’t it be nice if we could eliminate the need for the user to create yet another account, profile, username, password – etc. It would, but here again, we run into the security issue, not to mention a basic and pragmatic need to verify actual users.

Luckily, most people have social media accounts. We can now use these to verify submissions, meeting our needs far more conveniently than before. The backend (proving useful again) brings up the associated account sign-in. It verifies the submitter through a login to their social media account, issuing a token that gets them through the form. This means they don’t have to create anything new, improving conversion rates and the success of your forms by focusing on the user experience.

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