erasing a mistake

How to Design an Effective Website Form

A lot of time and effort go into designing an attractive website, appealing content, and an intuitive navigational system, but website forms tend to get the shaft. After all, it’s just a basic form, right? You can throw one of those babies together in a just a few minutes and be totally fine, right? Right?


Just because your forms aren’t the most glamorous aspect of your website doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve your attention. Regardless of whether your forms are being used to capture lead information, encourage a user to register for a service, facilitate the checkout process, or complete a contract, your forms need to be on point or else you’re running the risk of losing business. Even a simple mistake could throw your goals and targets out of whack. Don’t let this happen to you. By taking a look at some of the most common design mistakes for website forms, you can avoid disaster and enjoy a better ROI.

Being Greedy About Customer Information

Obviously, website forms are designed for the purpose of gathering customer information, but that doesn’t mean you have to go overboard. Asking too much information from a user all at one time can turn them off and cause them to navigate away from the page. It’s also important to make sure that users know what they’re getting in exchange for their information. No one will give you their info if they feel like it’s strictly for advertising purposes.

Placing Labels Poorly

Poorly placed labels for form fields can create a lot of confusion and frustration for both you and your customers. If the labels are located too far away or on the opposite side of the screen than what is normally expected, users may enter the wrong data in the wrong fields.

Substituting Placeholders for Labels

Another common problem occurs when designers use placeholders within a form field rather than labeling the field separately. While placeholders can serve as a great guide when used in conjunction with labels, they can be rather confusing when used without labels.

Not Showing Customers Where Errors Exist

There’s nothing more annoying than hitting “submit” on a form only to find that you did something wrong. No, wait. There IS something more annoying: being told that a correction needs to be made, but not being told where the error actually exists. Don’t do this to your customers. Make sure that any missing information or errors are clearly highlighted so they can be remedied quickly.

Next-to-Impossible Captchas

Captchas are a necessary evil. Yes, spam is super annoying for sales and marketing professionals, but Captchas that are nearly impossible for even the most visually-inclined humans are just as — if not more — annoying and will discourage users from completing your forms. Make sure that customers have the option of refreshing difficult Captchas or to listen to the code instead.

Failure to Include a Confirmation Message

After a customer or prospect has invested his or her time and energy in completing your form, they expect to see some sort of a pop-up or notification that will let them know whether or not their information was actually submitted to your company. Without this type of reassurance, users will become frustrated and concerned, and you may become inundated with calls from people demanding to know whether or not your system is working. Or, worse… you may never hear from them ever again.


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