The Importance of Web Forms

April 30, 2020

We believe that the way your audience contacts you via your web form is often undervalued and not very well thought out. We’re here to discuss how to best use your web forms and want you to start thinking how you can improve yours.

What is a web form

A web form is a website element that allows your visitors to send you information, such as an order, catalog request or a question about your products and services. This in turn is sent to whichever predefined location that you have set up, such as your enquiry email address, some sort of CRM, or your emailing list.

Web forms can be made up of many different input fields, allowing you to request the most relevant and specific information needed that will help you deal with your customers enquiries. The main elements are; text boxes, text areas, radio buttons, check boxes, dropdown lists, hidden fields, file uploads, buttons.

How to improve your web forms

Keep them simple

Only ask for information that you really need to start an informed conversation in the follow-up. Order your form fields in a logical way and by the importance of each one.
Give example entries as a placeholder, so they are prompted on what is needed.
Offer usability thoughtful forms by allowing the user to toggle through the form using their keyboard.

Offer clear error messages

Not that you want your users to cause errors, but when they do, be clear with your messages.

Allow the spacing between fields to accommodate the error messages without disrupting the flow of the form as a whole. Be specific about the error messages – What exactly is wrong with it. This allows the user to amend it instantly.

If the form is long, allow a save data option, so that they can come back to it if they don’t finish it first time round.

Feedback is important

Ensure mandatory fields are highlighted, so not to frustrate the user.
Use a colour scheme for different messages (Green for success, red for error, yellow for information etc), this allows visual feedback without the user having to read the message. Once the user has submitted the data, give instant feedback on the success and when they will receive further feedback such as a reply, or an email containing an order update.

It can be so much more

We want you to start thinking that your form can be more than just the bog standard, name, email and enquiry – To start benefiting from your web from, you need to start thinking of how you can capture more information by adding one or two extra forms. Keeping them relevant to the enquiry but giving you more information to allow your response to be more specific to the enquiry. For example;

One of our clients is a Upholster – Who mends and creates bespoke pieces of furniture for a loyal customer base. To help him with his quote enquiries, we added an image upload field input so the user could upload an image of their furniture, or an idea for their commisioned piece. This allowed our client to have further insight in the enquriry instead of going from just a text based description. This allowed his quotes to be more specific to the clients expectations.

Another of our clients is a carpet & flooring fitters who offer a home visit service – So to get a better understanding of the customers needs. We designed the form to include some questions on which types of floors they were interested in, if they wish for samples to be brought and when they are free for a visit. This allows some clear indication to our client on what the clients expectations are even before they’ve replied.

Your Task

The best web forms are the ones that prompt the user to supply key and relevant information that will help you decide on how to help them in the most efficient way. Filling in a form should not be an annoying task for the audience, as it should be a tool for them to understand how you work and allow them to think properly about their enquiry. All web forms should be kept clear and simple, and only trying to achieve one thing at a time. Too many questions about different subjects may come across as anti-productive.

Our task for you is to go away and have a look at your web forms and answer this question; Are they effective enough?