The Wufoo Blog

3 cringe-worthy (but avoidable!) form mistakes

By Johan Lieu · January 30th, 2017

3 tips avoid form mistakesThe Wufoo Form Builder makes it so easy to add fields and customize their options that sometimes many first time form creators go overboard and end up with a form that, even though it was created with the best of intentions, ends up being totally unusable. This post will help highlight a couple of common form design mistakes that most first-time form creators make.

Ready? Good. Let’s get to it then.

1. Asking For Way Too Much Information

The first common mistake we see with first time form creators is that they usually get carried away with adding fields for information that believe they need to do their jobs and end up with a form that has way too many fields that no one will fill out.

Let’s say you’ve created the most perfect sales lead form with like 80 input fields to make sure you get all of the information from potential customers that you think you may need just in case someone like Mike from Marketing asks for it (like, “Do you have more than three pets in your household?”).

After you’ve got the form complete, you embed it on your site and wait for the submissions from potential customers to come in. And then…nothing. Zero people have filled it out. Uh, what’s going on?

What happened was that potential customers visited your site, got a little bit interested, and were thinking about filling out your More Info form. But then they got to it and saw it was like 80 questions long and were like, “Whoa, that’s way too long of a form for something that I’m not even sure I need” and then they just abandoned your form.

What you need to do is really rethink what information you really, really, really need at this point in time and only have those fields on your form. For most sales lead forms, you’re only going to need someone’s name and a way to get in touch with them, whether it’s an email address or a phone number. That’s probably it. You can find out other info later when you follow up with the potential customer. There’s a ton of research out there that shows that removing even one field can make a huge difference in completion and conversion rates. So make sure you only ask for the information that is extremely crucial for the purpose of your form.

2. Making Everything Required

This is similar to #1 above, so this’ll be short and sweet. After you’ve pared down your 80 input field form down to say, like 11 fields, you decided to make everything required. But I bet that even in those 11 fields, you have some fields that aren’t actually required and you could get away with some submissions not requiring that information.

It can be difficult to have the discussion with whomever thinks that that information is crucial so one way to prove it is to test it. Make the field optional but leave it on the form. Then after a couple days or weeks, follow up to see if that piece of information wasn’t as important as previously thought. If so, you have the data to back it up. And, going back to #1 above, if you find out that you can live with the information being optional, you might want to consider removing it altogether, making your form even shorter, and increasing completion rates overall.

3. Put The Verification Question at the End of Your Form

This one is less of a newbie mistake but it’s something we all do and recent research has shown we’re all doing it wrong, newbies and veterans alike.

In most forms where the form taker needs to provide truthful information, at the bottom of the form there’s usually a question that says something like:

> “I confirm that all information that I’ve provided is true.” > “Your Name”

It’s usually a checkbox and a name field and most people kind of gloss over it at the end of the long information providing form. But what usually happens is that some people fudge the info (like your milage in an insurance in take form) but by the time you get down to the bottom of the form to say, “yes all this information is true” you’ve already committed to not providing the actual truthful information so you just check the box and continue on.

Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School, recently showed that by putting the signing or truth verification question at the top of the form, you’ll actually increase the truthfulness of the information being provided.

> “Using lab and field experiments, we find that signing before rather than after the opportunity to cheat makes ethics salient when it is needed most and significantly reduces dishonesty.”

While she tested on forms where people sign at the end, we can apply her learnings on our forms by asking for people’s names and confirm that the information provided is true at the beginning of the form instead of at the end.


Got some other tips you’d like to share? Comment below!

This entry was posted 7 months ago and was filed under Tips and Tricks. Comments are currently closed.

Comments

  1. Suggestion for “Required” fields - be sure to include “Other” as a choice. There are few things as frustrating as being given limited choices, none of which applies to me, and yet unable to proceed to the next question without completing the section. In my personal experience, I usually bail out of the form at that point or, if the form is for something I really must complete, I lie just so I can move on to the next question.

    Posted 1 year ago by Janis Purins.
  2. @Janis Great suggestion! One cool way to do this in Wufoo, when a field doesn’t offer Other by default, is to use our Field Rules. Field Rules can be used to show a field under certain conditions. In this case, you could use Rules to show a few follow up questions if someone selects Other in a field!

    Posted 7 months ago by Cody Curry.
  3. That’s right. Less is more. A long onerous form is only good for weeding out employment candidates.

    Posted 7 months ago by Emily Journey.
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