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Create more effective online forms - 8 tips for online form design

How to get the most out of your online forms in 8 easy steps.

You know you need an online form, but what’s next? Do you know how to design an online form? Design is a crucial part of the process and can have a big impact on the success of your form. 

A good online form design contributes to positive conversion rates, captures all necessary information, helps make the captured data more useful, and impacts the overall user experience.

We’ve put together eight tips to outline form design best practices to amplify your form’s effectiveness and efficiency in ways you may not have considered before. Let’s take a few minutes to look at how you can use online form design to augment your online forms, boost conversions, and show users that your brand is helpful and thoughtful.

  1. Highlight your brand

First and foremost, you want to design your form in a way that’s in line with your branding. This means using your brand voice throughout the text on your form. Ensure your content reflects your brand’s phrasing, word choice, and values. Your users should feel like your online form matches your branding seamlessly. 

With that in mind, visual appeal and consistency are also important. SurveyMonkey forms are completely customizable, so you can easily represent your brand image. It’s simple to add your company logo, colors, fonts, graphics, images, and other creative assets. Once you’ve used these elements to create your online form, use it as a model for future forms to maintain consistency throughout your communications with customers.

An additional benefit of including your branding elements is that you will build better brand awareness and engagement through your form.

  1. Keep things simple

When you’re in the midst of your online form design, you may feel tempted to ask for more information than you need—just in case you need it later. Do your best to resist this temptation and only ask for the information you actually need to accomplish your form’s purpose.

Forms with too many fields can be tiresome and time-consuming, leading to form abandonment and low submission rates. 

Put yourself in the shoes of the user completing the form. In fact, try to adopt the user’s mindset when you test your form before sending it out. Does any field feel unnecessary or intrusive? If so, omit it. 

If you want to collect additional information that’s not needed, make filling out this data optional. Your form users can then decide what they wish to share with you for those fields.

  1. Give an option to upload files

In some cases, you may need a large amount of information from your form users. This is the case in forms such as job applications, where you are asking for information on education, work history, and more. Rather than adding numerous form fields, provide form users with the option to upload files like resumes, certificates, or other supporting documents or images.

If you’ve ever been faced with a job application that has too many form fields for everything already included in your CV or resume, you know how frustrating it can be to complete. Save your applicants or other form users the hassle and provide them with an upload option.

  1. Consider branched logic

Branched logic, or what we at SurveyMonkey call skip logic, is an effective way to create a custom path through your form questions based on individual respondents’ answers. With skip logic, respondents are only presented with questions that are relevant based on their previous answers. This keeps your form streamlined for users. They will only questions that are required. By using this method to personalize the form for each user, you’ll experience less form abandonment.

Branched logic also impacts accessibility, as those users with screen readers will be able to easily navigate through the form and not be overwhelmed with nonapplicable questions.

  1. Pay attention to accessibility

As we just mentioned, accessibility should be a consideration in your online form design. Focus on accessibility to allow more people to complete your form with ease. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides guidance for creating effective online user experiences for all users.

The ADA recommends:

  • High color contrast between text and background
  • Do not use color alone to give information
  • Add captions to images and videos
  • Use labels that screen readers can convey to users, such as field labels
  • Clear, concise instructions
  • Error indicators if a field is missed

Ensuring that everyone can access and use your form is a sound business decision and the right thing to do.

  1. Communicate privacy and security practices

Users are hyperaware of the risks of providing personal information online, so you need to pay particular attention to online form security and data protection. When you’re requesting personal information, it’s necessary to make clear:

  • What you’re going to do with the information
  • Whether you intend to share the data
  • If users can edit their responses
  • How users can contact you if they have questions about your privacy and security practices

Forms created with SurveyMonkey help you adhere to relevant regulations, such as HIPAA, GDPF, and CCPA. We proactively address security vulnerabilities, choose hosting providers that adhere to security and technical best practices, and keep our team informed and responsible for our customers.

Take a look at what we do to protect data and ensure that you communicate what you’re doing to keep your users’ sensitive information safe via a link to your privacy and security policies or a statement within your form.

  1. Give a clear CTA

A clear call to action gives your online form users an explicit incentive to submit their completed form. Make sure your users understand the value of completing and submitting their forms. For example, will they receive a discount for early registration for an event, a free ebook on a related topic, or a free trial with no credit card submission? Users are more likely to submit forms when they understand the value they receive by doing so.

Some hints for adding effective CTAs to your forms:

  • Ensure your CTA is large enough to stand out but not so large as to look spammy
  • Place your CTA close to your submit button
  • Use fonts that are easy to read
  • To avoid confusion, use only one CTA
  • Keep your CTA short and sweet
  • Use action-oriented text
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Include a value proposition
  1. Include confirmation of submission

When designing your online form, ensure that users receive a confirmation of submission when they finish. This prevents confusion or frustration caused by not knowing if the form will be received and processed by your company. 

Example wording for a submission message: Thank you! Your form has been successfully submitted. We will reach out to you shortly. If your message is urgent, please call our office at 555-555-5555.

If possible, also follow the form submission with an email confirmation. This email can serve a dual purpose by providing further instructions or information where appropriate.

While our eight tips are pretty thorough, we thought we’d offer a few bonus design tips to help you create your perfect online form.

Introduce yourself and your form with a friendly greeting. An effective title and introduction to present your form’s purpose quickly and concisely will ease users into your form fields. Don’t forget to use your brand voice!

Progress bars show users how far along they are in completing your form. This can serve to motivate form completion when users see how quickly they are progressing and how much is left.

Many people use mobile devices to complete online forms. Test your form to make sure it is clear and looks good on smartphones and tablets. SurveyMonkey automatically ensures that your form is mobile-friendly.

Depending on your form, you may be able to break up the form fields with some visual elements, such as rating scales. For example, on a feedback form, you could provide sliders for users to rank service quality, cleanliness, responsiveness, friendliness, etc.

Make your form more user-friendly by presenting questions in an organized manner. For example, demographic questions should be grouped together, previous work experience questions should be together, etc.

Looking for tips on how to design an online form? Good form design is critical to user experience and form completion. Use our eight form design best practices (and our bonus tips) to achieve your online form goals. 

Do you need more information about online forms? Our online form solution is available to help you create registration forms, application forms, order forms, suggestion forms, and more forms to fit all of your personal and professional needs.

Design your online form today. Sign up with SurveyMonkey and choose the plan that best suits your online form needs.