Attracting customers in today’s digital age is no easy feat. With a multitude of factors that contribute to a brand’s online success, effective web design is one of the most important.
In fact, according to an academic study by researchers at the Carlton University in Canada, brands and digital marketers only have a hasty 50 milliseconds to make a lasting impression with their websites. Furthermore, a popular study by Stanford University titled “How Do People Evaluate a Web Site’s Credibility?” revealed that just over 46% of internet users determined brand credibility through analysing the visual design of a website, including its layout, colour, typography and font size.
Evidently, if consumers are unsatisfied with the design of a web page, they may search for competing brands, costing businesses potential leads and reducing conversions. However, engaging website design can lead to improved consumer experiences, higher conversion rates, increased revenues and have a potential impact on other areas of marketing, both online and offline.
While overall web design is critical to making sure consumers stay long enough on a brands website, effective website form design can be the difference between securing a lead or conversion. Therefore, as an award-winning website design agency, the team at RGC Digital Marketing has compiled 10 top tips to improve online forms that increase conversions and achieve online marketing goals.
1. Make Web Forms Simple
In today’s time-poor, attention-deficient digital society, lengthy online processes tend to be a major factor leading to form abandonment. In fact, according to the e-commerce user experience research firm, Baymard Institute, in 2017 28% of e-commerce customers identified that a long checkout process resulted in premature abandonment of the form or cart. Therefore, it is clear that the old adage “less is more” is an imperative concept to follow effective form design which can greatly reduce form abandonment rates in all industries.
In order to effectively simplify lengthy forms, brands should determine the most important information to collect and remove anything that isn’t deemed essential. HubSpot identifies that asking for too much information from consumers too early on in the consumer journey when consumers have yet to establish a level of trust, can greatly impede conversion rates. Not to mention, lengthy forms can be time-consuming and potentially frustrating. In fact, by simply reducing the number of form fields, conversions dramatically increase. One study, revealed that by limiting form fields to under 10, conversion rates increased by 120%.
Forms can also be greatly simplified by using one column in comparison to using two. In fact, a study by CXL Institute determined that consumers complete single-column web forms on average 15.4 seconds faster than forms that use two or more campaigns. As consumers cite lengthy processes as the main reason for abandoning forms, simplifying the process and making it more time-effective is highly beneficial for consumer experience.
2. Order The Form In A Logical Format
Digital marketing techniques are often concerned with influencing the behaviours and sometimes perceptions of consumers to encourage particular actions. In fact, this influence on behaviour greatly pairs marketing with psychology professions to find scientific and logical reasoning for why things occur. In terms of web form design, a psychological technique known as “The Foot In The Door Technique” proposed by Freedman and Fraser in 1966, discusses human behaviour and the occurrence that initially agreeing to small requests increases the likelihood of agreeing to a secondary, larger request.
So what does this mean for effective web form design? Based on this psychological technique, marketers can organise forms in a more logical manner. By including a simple request first, such as an individual’s name, before moving on to more personal details such as a phone number or credit card information, consumers are more likely to complete the form fields. Alternatively, if web forms were designed with more difficult requests first, consumers would simply regard it as too hard or too intrusive, abandoning the form altogether. Therefore, organising form fields in a logical format decreases the risk of abandonment and increases conversion rates.
3. Incorporate Validation Technology Inside Forms
In a 2016 website usability study by Baymard Institute, researchers discovered that 40% of major e-commerce brands do not have in-form validation technology. Meanwhile, the same study also notes that a further 20% of e-commerce brands that do have validation incorporated into their web forms, are hindering the effectiveness of the technology as a result of flawed integration.
In-form validation technology pertains to finding user errors prior to form submission in order to make the process less time-consuming and simple for the consumer. Such technology can be used to confirm that correct credit card details have been supplied before confirming orders or be implemented to make consumers aware of mistakes in their password, email address, phone number or residential address.
However, it should be clearly understood that as per Baymard Institute’s research, incorrect implementation of validation technology can actually hinder the desired effect. For example, two limitations that have been identified in relation to validation technology is premature prompts for errors along with outdated messages. Premature prompts refer to form fields that are marked invalid before the consumer has even finished typing. Meanwhile, outdated messages are errors prompts that remain on the form despite the consumer editing their input and providing the correct details. Again, this can potentially lead to frustration as consumers will not be able to submit the form and could potentially abandon it altogether.
Although these limitations can impact the desired effect of validation technology, proper implementation will address these pitfalls and ensure they don’t occur. The use of in-field validation technology will then ensure a less frustrating process for consumers by making sure they do not need to continuously fill out forms by automatically highlighting errors to make the process faster and simple. Effective web design and online form design always prioritise customer experience and usability, and validation technology inside web forms is just one of many ways to help facilitate this.
4. Consider Basic Formatting
According to research conducted by Google, placement of form input labels should be above their corresponding field and aligned to the left to improve the way consumers scan and complete web forms. Posted to the Google AI blog, their study utilised eye-tracking technology to determine that adequately formatted forms were more simple and easy to complete due to fewer fixations or continual rapid saccades.
Supplementary studies by researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland explored various web form best practices in order to maximise customer experience, improve form completion time and minimise abandonment rates. Like Google, this study also confirmed that forms should be formatted to the left with headings presented above their respective fields in order to make the process simpler, cohesive and timely. It is then argued that simple, easy to complete forms provide an improved customer experience, resulting in higher form completions and thus conversions.
5. Use Engaging Title To Motivate Consumers
Engagement is a commonly occurring theme in today’s digital marketing practices. With shorter attention spans and the demand for instantaneity, marketers are constantly exploring ways to stand out from competitors and capture audience attention to drive results. In fact, this couldn’t be more true in relation to web form design, as seen by many brands through A/B split testing methods.
For example, the online betting website, BettingExpert, implemented A/B split testing techniques to determine the best headlines and call-to-action (CTA) buttons that result in higher conversions. By testing two variable forms over a 9-day period, the brand determined the headlines and CTA that inspired action were more than just a simple ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Join Now’. While the first form in the test used these generic terms, the second implemented the headline “Get Free Betting Tips” alongside the CTA button “Sign Up & Get The Best Daily Tips”. In fact, the second variation received 30% more sign-ups, as a result of a simple, yet engaging tweak with the content. This highlights the necessity to be creative in order to motivate consumers to complete web forms.
6. Reconsider Phone Number Fields
In 2010, an analytics company, Clicktale discovered they were losing 39% of potential consumers via their forms as a result of phone number fields. Furthermore, B2B brand Vital, discovered similar results in relation to their web forms when they found phone number fields decreased conversions by 48%.
While both establishments experienced similar situations with the inclusion of phone number fields, it is important to remember that each business has its own unique goals which may require phone number information. Similarly, it is also crucial to remember that consumers are also at various stages of the customer journey which may impact the likelihood of providing personal information. For example, brands may choose to provide free e-books via online forms. E-books are generally an ideal way to disseminate information that is used for researching and consideration purposes. In fact, as research and consideration occur early on in the buyer’s journey, consumers may not be prepared to provide sensitive information in comparison to a consumer at the ready to buy phase, for example.
Furthermore, Unbounce states that the majority of consumers dislike lead-generated calls from brands, unless the company is providing critical and timely information. Therefore, a brand should consider whether phone numbers are crucial for results to limit the risk of form abandonment. To overcome this, brands should revisit their website strategy, conduct useful A/B split tests or make phone number fields optional in order to drive higher conversions.
7. Allow Auto-Fill
In order to create seamless, simple and fast user experiences in relation to online forms, it is important forms are optimised to allow for Auto-Fill. Browsers like Chrome, Safari and Firefox store a user’s information on their personal devices to facilitate easier form fill outs. This can have immense benefits for e-commerce brands, where lengthy check-out processes have been attributed to cart abandonment. Utilising Auto-Fill simplifies this process for consumers and can even contribute to more impulse buying as limited user interaction as required.
However, the Auto-Fill function is not always guaranteed for consumers who use these browsers. In fact, before browsers can automatically populate information, marketers need to ensure form fields are easily distinguishable. Using heading such as “First Name” or “City” allows browsers to determine which fields require particular information, therefore simplifying the process for consumers.
8. Address User Concerns
According to the Australian postal service, StarTrack, online shopping growth significantly outperformed in-store traditional retail purchases. In fact, Australians parted with $21.65 billion in 2016 to facilitate their online shopping addiction – a 10.2% increase in comparison to the previous year. However, while online shopping continuously booms, concerns of cyber fraud, hidden charges and lock-in contracts are just some of the few barriers obstructing further online form completions at the check-out stage. These concerns, therefore, have a major impact on further e-commerce sales growth.
In order to address various common concerns of consumers, HubSpot suggests that web forms should provide reassurance in order to make individuals more comfortable with providing their information. For example, simple text such as “No Hidden Fees”, “Cancel Anytime” or “Secure Online Payments” can greatly increase consumer confidence. In fact, according to a 2017 report by a financial institution, Cardtronic, 7/10 consumers make purchasing decisions based on secure payment methods. Not to mention, American Express also identified that 37% of consumers abandon online purchases and checkout forms due to concerns about unsecure payments. Therefore, by addressing concerns to build consumer confidence, conversion rates can increase.
9. Omni channel Optimisation
In 2008, technology analyst Mary Meeker made a bold statement that mobile would surpass fixed internet access by the year 2014. Fast forward to the present day, some countries now experience up to 4 times higher smartphone audiences in comparison to their desktop counterparts. Evidently, the rise of mobile has impacted how consumers browse the web, yet according to Yahoo! 91% of small business websites are still not mobile optimised.
In fact, just the other day I personally experienced the perils of a desktop-only website in relation to web form design. Upon trying to submit an online enquiry, the brand utilised CAPTCHA technology to avoid unnecessary bots. However, the particular technology used was unsuitable for mobile browsers like myself and required a mouse to hover over the prompt. After several tries of swiping over the CAPTCHA on my mobile device, I was left frustrated and immediately left the site to begin searching for alternative competitors.
Evidently, whether it is the form fields themselves or security technology embedded into the forms, it is important to ensure web forms are mobile optimised. As a majority of consumer already browse and purchase through their smartphone device, ill-device prepared forms that do not consider mobile experiences can potentially leave customers with an unsatisfactory online experience and greatly diminish potential leads.
10. Avoid Retype Fields
As previously mentioned, a reduction in in-form fields positively correlates to a significant increase in conversions. In fact, fields such as “Retype Password” and “Retype Email” could potentially be unnecessary fields impacting online conversions.
Webform analytics company, Formisimo conducted an analysis on their own website forms to determine areas of improvement. Through their analysis, the company discovered that repeat fields were attributable to a 25% abandonment rate of potential customers. To rectify this issue, the company added a “Show Password” feature allowing the user to double-check their input rather than include timely retype fields. In fact, as a result of this edit, Formisimo noticed a conversion rate increase of 55%, highlighting the need to constantly test forms and prioritise consumer experience.
Clearly, web design services play a crucial role in capturing leads or sale in the online environment. Improper design that does not effective prioritises consumer experience can cost businesses, prospective consumers, reducing their potential sales. However, properly optimised, formatted and visually appealing web forms experience higher conversions and customer satisfaction. Therefore, to maximise online marketing presence, web design needs to be considered as a vital component of digital marketing and advertising services.
RGC Digital Marketing is a full-service digital marketing agency based in Sydney that has proudly won a host of awards and accolades for various web design services. As a leading web design agency, our team has experience in developing engaging website forms, landing pages and websites that result in improved engagement and increased conversions. To learn more about web design or our other online marketing services, please do not hesitate to contact Richard on 1300 770 985 or email email@example.com