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  by Betty White |

Designing User-Friendly Web Forms

If you take a look at the recent but frantic development of the Internet in the computer era, you’ll find that the interaction between humans and computers has developed quite a bit in the process. However, one thing is constant – the fact that forms are still one of the crucial kinds of interaction between users and Internet services.

Quite simply, people who utilize online websites or mobile apps have a set goal in mind; with forms being one of the ways they communicate the goal to the website. They are used for all kinds of online activities on a daily basis; whether it’s purchases, registering, or feedback. It’s no overstatement to say that they’re the most crucial part of the overall user experience.

And that’s why, as a designer, you want to create user-friendly web forms. And we’re here to provide you with a couple of tips on doing it right!

Bare necessities

Obviously, when you set out to design user-friendly web forms, you want your average user to have the best on-site experience possible. And if you’re going to have a WP site that’s mobile-friendly, that means one crucial thing – minimalism. In other words, users need to have the ability to complete forms online without fuss and confusion. The less effort they need to employ to do so, the better. And as a designer, you need to achieve that by producing the most easy-to-use and fastest form experience possible. 

So, first – don’t ask too much information out of your users. You need to cut the volume of required information by quite a lot and stick to the bare necessities. Whenever you add some sort of required information, think about how important it truly is. How will that request be used afterward? And how important is this information? This is crucial because you don’t want to have too many fields; each field you put in your form will have an effect on its conversion rate. Limiting yourself when it comes to the number of questions will make your form appear much less loaded to the average user. 

A graphic example of the same form on a tablet, laptop, and phone.
Only employ the bare minimum of the required information, to minimize user frustration!

Logical order

If you want your website to contain only quality content for good content marketing, you should realize something; that includes forms too. That’s one of the premier reasons why you need to design user-friendly web forms. But how do you make them appear as user-friendly and natural as possible? For one, as a designer, you have to approach the forms in the right way. We advise to think of them as being nothing more than a conversation with the end-user. And just like any other type of communication, it needs to be logical. So, if your app or website and a person are going to converse – their exchange needs to have a natural flow.

A graphic representing online statistics and forms.
Your design needs to be crisp and clear if you don’t want to dissuade users from filling out the form!

You should ask for information in an order which will be completely logical from the perspective of the user – not of the app. So, for example – you don’t want to ask someone to provide their address before giving their name. And when it comes to further questions, you want to group them in blocks of related queries. That way, the flow of one question to the next will be seamless and logical. Plus, users will have an easier time understanding how and why they’re providing you with information. 

Short labels

While optimizing your website for the search engines is important, you also need to think about the practicalities of the user experience. That’s why we’re mostly focusing on things that may appear banal but are actually hugely important if you want to design user-friendly web forms. Another good example of that is the field labels.

A graphic representing different websites and online forms.
Don’t overdo it with field labels if you want to keep your form user-friendly!

Obviously, these exist so that users can understand what the input fields adjacent to them mean. And if you want your UI to be as user-friendly as possible; the label text needs to be crystal clear and short. Being concise here is quite important if you don’t want your users getting confused. So, yes, the labels need to communicate the purpose of a given field to the user; but don’t treat these as help texts. They need to be short, succinct, but still descriptive; not much more than a word or two at most. 

Clear optional fields

If you ask us, in an ideal situation – you don’t want to have any optional fields in your forms. As we’ve mentioned above, you don’t want to waste a user’s time with the provision of unneeded information. So, if a piece of information isn’t strictly required, there’s really no point in having a corresponding input field in your form at all. 

In practice though, you may still have to utilize optional fields. But if that’s the case, you want to highlight them clearly. The users need to know for sure which fields they absolutely have to fill out, and which they can leave blank. In most cases, having an ‘optional’ label or marking the field with an asterisk is quite enough. 

Be conservative with defaults

When you want to introduce a static default value for something, be extremely careful. Only do it if you’re absolutely certain that a huge majority of your users (above 90%) would choose that value; especially if we’re talking about a required field. And why’s that? Well, with such an approach, you exponentially increase the chances of users making an error because they usually skim through only forms pretty quickly. They’ll scan them in passing; so don’t expect a user to carefully parse through every single choice on the form. If something already has a given default value, chances are they’ll just skip on changing it at all. 

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