Could one ill-fated form field cost your company millions in missed profits? For Expedia, it did. They realized and corrected their error, and gained $12 million in profits annually.
Any one of these mistakes in your WordPress registration form could cost you big time in conversion rates and revenue.
User Registration: the gateway to subscriber engagement
Chances are you are spending resources to generate traffic to your site. When traffic gets to your site, is your registration form doing its job? In my last post I looked at how to Create User accounts on your WordPress site. Now we’re going to look at what makes a good WordPress registration form.
A study in 2011 concluded that four out of five people will change their behavior on a site when bothered by the need to create a new account to register on a website.
That's 80% of your visitors potentially going back into cyberspace. Decrease the friction for your WordPress registration form by eliminating these five mistakes. Keep your visitors and convert them into users.
Mistake #1: The benefit of site registration is not immediately clear
The Coffee Exchange, my favorite coffee bar in Colorado Springs, makes good use outside of space with a casual sidewalk sign. What really drew me in was the gluten free options. Their gluten free breakfast sandwiches are the bomb.com. I would have never known to step inside for one if I hadn't seen the sign.
Similar principals apply to your website. It's all about your user. And for the user, the question is 'What’s in it for me?' Don’t ask for the registration. Sell it! If you don't have anything to sell it with, restructure your offer. If you have registration benefits, display them in a concise, attractive manner.
Mistake #2: Your WordPress registration form is not easy to find
Clear spell out your offer to avoid user irritation. Use well-crafted headlines and call-to-action buttons to point your visitor to the registration form. Place links to your WordPress registration form in plain sight and title them appropriately.
Sign up versus sign in
Have you ever wanted to log in to a site and ended up at a registration page instead?
'Sign in' and 'sign up' are difficult to differentiate at first glance. It's worse when these two phrases are side by side. Snappa tells registered users to 'log in' and encourage unregistered visitors to 'get started.' They also differentiate with a hyperlink for registered users and a bold button for visitors.
Where do I register?
It was a different experience for me when I went to the Yahoo! site. I saw a 'sign in' option but where should I register?
I assumed I could find sign up information by clicking on the ✉️ Mail icon. However, that just brought me to a sign in page. I found a 'Sign up' link at the bottom that brought me to a sign up form. But after two clicks, I'm still not sure what this account will give me. A free email account? The ability to access Yahoo! News at subscriber level?
Yahoo! has enough brand equity that they can get by with this less-than-optimal user registration experience. Chances are, your sites and mine can't. We've got to step up our game.
Mistake #3: Your form has too many fields
Remember when forms asked for so much to be confirmed it was like having double vision? Thankfully the trend regarding this has diminished. Ask for confirmation only when it's necessary. Formidable Forms offers two methods to confirm email addresses.
The Confirmation Field in the Field Options for Email or Password Fields allows you to add a confirmation field either inline or below the original field.
The email confirmation checkbox option in User Registration Add-On requires a user to confirm their email address via email. (This is known as a double opt-in because the user must click through the activation link in the confirmation email, essentially having to complete a 'double' action to register).
Mistake #4: Your form has confusing fields or formatting requirements
If fields are optional, make sure they are labeled as so. Removing them from the form may be better, as Expedia learned. Expedia's checkout form had an optional 'Company' field under 'Name' followed by an 'Address' field. Some customers were unsure what 'Company' referred to, and filled it with their bank's name. Customers then entered their bank's address, rather than their own billing address. Naturally, this didn't pass form validation and the purchase failed. Frustrated customers left the site and presumably completed transactions with Expedia's competitors.
All of this came about because of one confusing, but optional field. When in doubt, leave out the optional fields.
Accept any format or use an input mask
My life in Colorado Springs isn't always roses and hipster coffee bars. Sometimes I gotta fill out forms too. Like this form required to register as an employer for a Colorado Unemployment Insurance account. Looks harmless enough at first glance.
I entered 'Golden Thread Marketing, Inc' in the 'Colorado Legal Business Name' field. An error message kept telling me that my form was not accepted, but failed to give a reason. Three weeks and several emails later, I received the following message from the state:
Please type in as
GOLDEN THREAD MARKETING INC
Government forms can get away with less user friendly interface because—let's face it—if the government requires you to do something, you have to do it. But there really isn't any excuse for not disclosing a required input format.
If you can, allow users to input data without restriction. For instance, a street address could be entered as:
- 123 S. Main #1, or
- 123 South Main Apt. 1, or
- [line 1] 123 S. Main
- [line 2] Apt 1
If you need the data formatted a certain way, use 'Format' options. Always use microcopy to tell the user exactly what you are looking for.
Mistake #5: Your form, error messages or microcopy don't inspire confidence
Users will complete your form more often when they feel confident your website and offer are credible. Largely, this is a site design issue, not simply a form design issue. Don't skimp on design. When in doubt, less can be more. Don't skimp on spellcheck. Don't skimp on refining your site's copy.
Here's a thumbs up/ thumbs down example using a form to sign up for a new email address.
Thumbs down ?
When my desired email name was not available, the error message comes up loud and clear. A bit TOO loud and clear. This error message is hard on the eyes and leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately, the design looks cheap.
Thumbs up ?
In contrast, I asked mail.com if my name was available. It wasn't. But the error message was returned via ajax before I even submitted the form. It even gave me suggestions for 'correcting' it.
Error messages for success preparation
Error messages should best be approached as 'success preparation' messages. If the first try was unsuccessful, your message will prepare the user to get it right. Anything beyond a second attempt will probably lead to form abandonment. Aim to help your users get it right on the first try every time.
Call to action buttons should provide context for the action
Like a firm handshake, strong contextual calls to action seal the deal. Contextual copy would be phrases like 'Get started' or 'Access my account.'
The Lyft.com button reads 'Sign Up to Ride.' A helpful rule of thumb is to mentally preface your call-to-action button copy with 'I want to.' Your button copy should complete the sentence. Lyft's call to action has the customer saying, '[I want to] Sign Up to Ride.'
Optimize your WordPress registration form
WordPress registration forms aren't going away, but your site visitors may. Just one of these mistakes could be costing your site in conversion rates and revenue. Turn things around.
- Make the benefits of site registration immediately clear to your visitors.
- Keep your site registration form easy to find.
- Remove unnecessary fields.
- Build a form without confusing fields or input requirements.
- Inspire confidence through beautiful design and copy.
BONUS TIP: Grant immediate access to user accounts
As Formidable's co-founder Steve Wells likes to say, 'engagement is just as much what happens after the form submission as before.' First experiences are crucial. When users register on your site, grant them immediate access whenever possible. Cut down the barriers between the user and the access or content they have signed up to receive.
Download the User Registration Add-On to start creating user accounts today.