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Getting Online Form Optimization Right

Forms are the industry-agnostic component of online business. Travelers fill in personal information and preferences before their trip just as financial services customers fill out credit card and insurance policy applications. It’s safe to assume your online customers are at least familiar with this process, if not very experienced. So, the importance of optimizing your online forms for efficiency and user experience cannot be underestimated!

Here are a few best practices and ideas to test so you can further optimize this key part of your checkout funnel.

Alleviate Their Information Fears

Human nature and user tendencies are an important piece of the online form optimization puzzle. Online forms typically require the user to enter a significant amount of personal information, which can cause discomfort or distrust. Many users are wary of putting their personal details online. These feelings are heightened when a user is buying insurance or applying for a credit card, as they are required to share very personal financial information.

Therefore, it is important to limit forms to only require the bare minimum in terms of personal details. The more information requested, the higher the odds your customers make that all too familiar exclamation to themselves: “Why do they need to know that?!” By only asking what is essential, you will curb user nerves and hesitation, thereby lowering bounce rate and increasing conversion rate.

Hold Their Attention

The other thing to be wary of with online forms is length. In a 2015 study, the Statistic Brain Research Institute revealed that the average human being has an attention span of 8.25 seconds. This means that a long form, especially one requiring a lot of personal details, has an uphill battle to keep users engaged enough to finish the process.

Length can be addressed by optimizing for consistent user engagement. One way to do this is by breaking the form up into steps. This way, no individual step is too arduous and the form’s content can be kept above the fold so that users do not need to scroll. You might also test a kind of completion meter that can be implemented easily. Progress bars or completion meters give users a sense of accomplishment and progress as they move through the various steps. When users can visually see how close they are to completion, it goes a long way to keeping them dedicated to finishing.

Be Design-Savvy

There are certain design conventions that should be used whenever possible to allow for a fast and successful form completion process. Some pieces of your form may be answered from a list of choices (such as yes or no). In this case, implementing radio buttons are the easiest way for a user to select an option. Items with many more options, like a list of states, should be treated similarly. A drop-down menu should be employed in the form field. These design choices allow the user to easily complete the form field and keep them engaged.

Another valuable way to keep bounce rates low is to employ hidden form fields. This means hiding certain parts of the form unless the user “unlocks” them, so the form appears shorter and requires less information. For example, if a yes or no question on an insurance form requires an additional 3-4 questions if the user answers yes, hide this information until a selection is made, and only expand it if it becomes necessary. These measures will all work toward making the online form more efficient, keeping customers engaged, and increasing successful form submissions.

The Trick With Mobile

Optimizing online forms to maximize efficiency becomes exponentially more important on mobile devices. The usual obstacles of online forms loom larger, as scrolling through a long form on a mobile device is that much more frustrating (due to smaller screen size, a lack of mouse, etc.). The same best practices should be followed when optimizing a mobile form, but with greater immediacy.

This might mean increasing the length of the form by a few steps, but having each step contain minimal scrolling to help users stay engaged, keep their place on the page, and move quickly through the form. CTAs, as well as any radio buttons or drop-down menus, should be larger on mobile so that people can easily click with their finger and make a selection. The less typing into form fields a user needs to do, the better, because typing can be very tedious on a mobile device.

Optimizing your forms doesn’t have to be a fatigue-inducing, controversial process! By testing incremental changes to the funnel, you can significantly decrease drop-off and boost conversions. Start with regular analytics, then choose from this list or another list of best practices to see how the things that have worked for other businesses can work for yours. For more ideas, ask questions in the comments section below or get in touch with me or another Oracle Maxymiser analyst.

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