One of the first things you need to think about when drawing up an online application form template is how many fields the form should contain. There is actually no single answer, as the number of fields will depend on a few factors, including your target audience, the value of the information for your business, and the value of signing up for users.
Reducing Form Size with the Question Protocol
You can easily cut down the number of fields in a form by using the question protocol. This works by considering every question on the form in turn and determining which fields are actually necessary. For instance, you need to think about who needs the data and why.
You’ll also need to look at whether a field is required or optional. In the case it is required, what happens if the user types nonsense into the field just to be able to submit the form?
As an example, imagine you have a registration form template that asks for the first name, last name, location, and email address of a visitor. Do the benefits of asking for first and last name outweigh the cost? You could simplify the process by removing these fields, perhaps even the location field as well. This would be worthwhile if it increased the chance that you receive an application for registration and reduced the risk of fake information. Both would lead to a higher conversion rate.
Ask Yourself the Right Questions
In some situations, it is no good simplifying a website registration form, as you need all the information you are asking from users. Find out if this is the case by asking yourself some high-level questions.
Start by considering what information you are asking for. Is it possible that you already have this data? If not, can you gain it from another source, such as from IP addresses? Alternatively, is it plausible to receive the information at a later date? As an example, you could ask users to complete an initial create-account form and then require them to provide more details to finish the account setup.
Gaining Value from Your Form
The next thing to do is consider if your registration form fields are required for you to deliver value. Of course, you want to know as much about users as possible. However, if fields are just to satisfy your database rather than deliver value, it is better to remove them from the registration template.
Using No Password Sign-In
A no password sign-in form allows users to complete your online registration form with their email address alone. This reduces the number of form fields down to one. To log in, prospects use a link they receive via email. This can be appealing to users, as there is no need to fill in many fields nor remember another password. Plus, they still have a secure login, as they must access their email to be able to log in to your website.
The downside of this method is that it is still uncommon, meaning some users may be wary about signing up this way. Furthermore, they may find it more complicated to head to their email account every time they want to log in. This is especially true for users who have passwords saved in a password management system and for whom another password poses no problem. If you want to use the no password sign-in method, you should test your registration form format on a few users first and see how impacts conversions.
Increasing Webpage Form Conversions
Webpage forms tend to have low conversion rates, even when the number of fields is low. Why is this? It is because forms often offer nothing of value to visitors in return. In addition to reducing the number of fields and making it easy to sign up, you need to give visitors a good reason to provide you with their contact details. Just asking nicely won’t cut it.
Think of it like this: no one is going to fill out multiple fields just to receive basic information they could find with a Google search. You need to provide users with something they are unable to find elsewhere and that answers their questions or concerns. Furthermore, the information should be tied directly to a specific phase in the buyer’s journey and tailored for the buyer persona.
Qualifying Your Forms
A final thing to think about is how you will qualify your forms. Your capability to do this will depend on your back-end resources. If your goal is to maximize quantity, you will need a system in place that enables you to sort and qualify leads effectively and efficiently.
How Forms Relate to Conversion Rate
It may seem like a small decision, but the number of fields in a form has a significant impact on conversion optimization. To ensure that you arrive at the right number, you first need to focus on what information is necessary for the visitor to get started. This could be just one or two fields, but it could be as many as 8 or 10. The actual number matters little; what is most important is that visitors understand why you need such information and are willing to answer.
Plus, as you’ve seen, fields are just the start. You also need to think about incentives to encourage visitors to fill out your form. After that, there are all the other aspects of design, which also play a role in maximizing website conversion rates. If you are in doubt, turn to a CRO agency for support.
Originally published at insightwhale.com on December 3, 2018.