Web forms – let’s face it, they are generally a pain in the pants. We don’t have time, we’re impatient – especially us blokes as we simply cannot multi-task (bar drinking and watching sports at the same time) – we want answers this second. But they are still an extremely useful sales tool when executed with the user in mind. Even if you use IM chat software that is competently manned (or womanned (sic)) – forms are still required to increase the chances of capturing a business lead/conversion.
But the majority of websites don’t have the user in mind – they often plunk in a standard form and leave it to rot. My Top Tip for 2013 isn’t ground breaking, but many of you aren’t doing it – TEST YOUR FORMS!
Here at High Position we like to practice what we preach and we ran a successful Contact Form test on our old website (which we have since carried through to our new website and will continue to test), whereby we tested CTAs initially (persuasion) and we then tested the colour, layout and size, and button on the form (usability).
We also made the send/submit button bigger and improved the labelling CTA. Despite Luke Wroblewski’s excellent studies on web forms, I’ve never been a fan of ‘cancel’ ‘reset’ or ‘clear’ buttons on forms. I mean, it’s enough to get a user to actually fill the thing in, but it’s very rare that they’ll put in incorrect details then realise this during the process and crave for a ‘reset’ button. They’re a hindrance to conversion in my opinion.
Take a look at the test:
The most obvious changes were the size of the form and the coloured fields (usability). These we tested separately over time. They improved conversion. We also added a short sentence to negate any user anxieties (persuasion): ‘No fields are compulsory’ (implying you don’t ‘have’ to leave a number AND email address, thus making it quick and easy to fill in) and ‘We will never share your information’ (to negate any data protection concerns).
And here are the results - 117% Improvement!
Tool Cool For School
“When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me” – Oscar Wilde
Of course, prior to testing you have to analyse. The whole point of CRO / UX is to find out how the most important people to your business use your website – that’s right, the users. I urge you all to use the many excellent UX tools available. An excellent tool for web forms is click tale, which encompasses Form Analytics, perfect for spying on your users.
These tools are like that Chevy 57 the cool kid rolled up to High School in (more like a Golf GTI in Essex); they help to increase your popularity. If you use them well, they will improve your chances of getting laid… err I mean your web traffic converting.
Listen, Test, Learn. Listen, Test Learn…
High Position tracked down (well, tweeted) Form Guru, Caroline Jarrett, co-author of the excellent Forms that Work: Designing web forms for usability (2008):
“Above all, it’s vital to do usability testing of your form in the right context with the right audience,” she says. “It’s vital. You’ve got to watch quietly while someone tries to fill it in – and then make changes to make it better. And then test again with the new version. Repeat that test/change cycle until they don’t even notice they’ve filled in the form because it was so easy.”
Sound advice, which reminds me of the famous Baudelaire quote (paraphrased by Kevin Spacey’s Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects) “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist.” Like all UX, keep it simple, make it natural. If users have to think, they’ll bail.
As Steve Krug fans (or ‘Krugites’ as I like to call us) will testify to, the simpler usability is the more likely it is that the user will perform your desired actions, i.e. convert. So in 2013 make sure you test your web forms with the user in mind. Keep it simple, but don’t use guess work. Analyse then sympathise; simplify then exemplify.