Did you know that roughly 7,000 tweets are shared every second? This is just one statistic that demonstrates how very few people simply browse the web any more. Instead they are tweeting, posting, pinning, and contributing to make the web an extension of who they are.
Why Better WordPress Form Design Matters
Engaging with our users helps us understand who they are, what they care about and what drives them. This information enables us to position our products and marketing efforts to better meet their needs.
Earlier this month, Jessica and I presented on increasing user engagement at WordCamp Denver. We got to catch up with some old friends and even make some new ones. If you work with WordPress and have never attended a WordCamp, I highly recommend checking one out. You won't regret it.
The response to our talk on using better WordPress form design to engage users was so positive, we felt a blog post outlining the key points of that talk would be helpful. If you prefer to watch a video of our talk, scroll to the bottom of this post.
You won't be surprised to hear that one of the best ways to engage with your users is through the use of forms.
But just any old form won't do. Instead, you need forms that users will finish and submit to collect the information you need. To do this, consider the psychological process users go through when deciding whether to complete a form or not.
Marcu Taylor, the founder of Leadformly, outlined this process in the pyramid to the right. Before engagement can happen, you will need to build forms that cover the other aspects of the pyramid: motivation, ability, peace of mind and ease of use.
Many factors go into creating forms that users are motivated to complete. Form appearance, length, and location all affect whether a user will invest time in your form or pass it by. One of the best ways to get your user's attention is by communicating what's in it for them. This strategy will have the biggest impact on your form's conversion rates.
What's in it for me?
If the user wants the outcome of submitting a form, they are much more likely to take the time to complete it. This is why contest forms convert far better than any other forms we can add to our sites. Even if there is only a chance of winning that prize, conversion rates will increase.
If the outcome of filling out a form is not clear or not inherently valuable to a user, consider adding a random winner for a prize or give away something like an e-book with submission to increase the motivation factor of your forms.
Is it clear to your users that they can complete your form? Prior to filling out a form, users typically evaluate if they have the time and information needed to submit the form. If it isn't clear that they have all that is needed, they pass over your form. If your form requires information your users might not have readily available or requires a significant time investment, you should clarify those requirements to the user. No one wants to spend 20 minutes on a form just to find they can't complete the process.
Accessibility for users with low vision
Accessibility is another consideration when it comes to ability. Keep in mind that there are users who are blind or have low vision. Make your forms more accessible by checking them with a screen reader. Also, you should avoid using small, low-contrast labels and fields in your form. One quick test to determine if your font needs help is to stand five to six feet away from your computer screen and see if you can still read the labels. If not, consider a larger font size or better contrast.
Peace of mind
Secure your forms with SSL
Let's face it, the internet is a bit like a battle field. One side is constantly looking for back doors, or new ways to steal information, while the other side is constantly working to stop them. Securing your forms with SSL encryption is a great way to provide peace of mind to your users. If you're not sure what this means or how to get started, Skyler recently wrote a great post on How To Switch to HTTPS for Secure WordPress Forms
Make phone fields optional
Stolen data isn't the only thing users worry about when submitting personal information. They may just be wondering what is going to happen with their personal information. Are they going to get an unexpected sales call? Are they going to get spammed with emails about unrelated products and services? Most of us have submitted forms that had negative, unexpected results. One way to provide peace of mind and increase conversion rates is to make sure the phone number field is optional. Also, it never hurts to let users know what to expect when they submit your form so there are no unwelcome surprises.
Making your forms easy to use will improve your form conversion rates. For small forms with only a few fields, you may focus more on form location. For example, well-timed popups like those generated by OptinMonster are great ways to make simple forms easy to find and complete.
Optimize long forms
What about long forms? Sometimes we need to collect a lot of information. Throwing all those fields onto a page and calling it good won't encourage the average user to give your form much thought. So here are a few things we can do.
- Remove unnecessary fields
- Use multi-part forms
- Use conditional logic
- Auto-populate fields
- Use repeatable fields
- Use form conversations
The goal with long forms is to make them more manageable by making them appear smaller and more organized. The form above demonstrates a few of the tools we can use to improve long forms. Breaking the form into multiple pages and using conditional logic to show fields only if they are needed vastly improves the usability of this form.
Creating well-designed forms that users are motivated to complete is only half the battle when it comes to maximizing engagement. What happens after submission is equally important. Think of your form as the beginning of a conversation. The user starts the conversation when he clicks submit, it is then your turn to continue the conversation. Email notifications are the primary tool used for continuing the conversation.
How to continue the conversation
Emails sent after a form is submitted should contain three main parts:
Confirmation lets the user know you got their submission. Have you ever completed a form and not gotten any form of confirmation? Without it, the user is confused and unsure if they need to fill out the form again. Confirmation gives the user peace of mind that they successfully submitted the form.
Instructions on what happens next are also important. If you are selling a product, let them know how to get started. Even for basic contact forms, instructions on how and when they will receive a personal response will go a long way toward building trust with your users.
Promotion is one aspect of confirmation emails that many don't consider. Any time a user initiates an action, their likelihood of converting is higher. In this case, your user has submitted your form, take this opportunity to promote a complimentary product or service. If you aren't selling anything, invite them to read your blog or link them to your newsletter signup form.
There is no law that states you can only send one email per form submission. In fact, We recommend following up a few days later. Again, it is your responsibility to keep the conversation alive. Follow up emails should contain additional tips and should request feedback on your product or service. This feedback will be critical to making positive improvements to your product.
Remember the goal is to better understand your user so you can tailor your product or service to their needs. Forms are a great way to start the conversation, but true engagement also requires follow-up. These repeated interactions build trust, help in collecting actionable data and ultimately increase conversions.
Want to learn more? Watch the live WordCamp Denver talk on better WordPress form design. Slides are available here.