The Wrong Way to Create Forms

Forms are a basic part of building e-mail lists and doing marketing. The more information you ask for, the more likely it is that your customers will run away from your site screaming and never buy what you have for sale. However, even if you do need to ask for a certain amount of information, you want to keep a few things in mind when building forms so that people can keep from tearing their hair out. Otherwise, you’ll find fewer and fewer people signing up:

Don’t Be a Password Nanny

I know all about cyber security. I know that increasingly, hackers are able to figure out passwords regardless of how long you make them unless they are totally random series of characters and numbers such as huih76ye432*))&*(HG%hlkih77. The problem with a password like that (aside from the fact that millions of people can now read it and see what it is) is that it’s impossible to remember. So people tend to go for easier to remember passwords.

Now again, I get that you want your customers to be secure. And if you run something like a bank, that may be a big concern. But let’s face it, if you run a forum on hemorrhoids, it’s not that big a deal and you don’t need to insist that passwords must have upper and lower case letters, numbers and characters. If you want to offer a nod to cyber security, include one of those services which tells people if their password is weak, medium or strong.

Don’t Ask for Things You Don’t Need to Know

As I said above, the more information you demand from your customers, the fewer who will agree to sign up for what you have to offer, regardless of what it is. Thus while you may want to know marital status of the people who sign up for your site on collecting ancient coins, it’s just not something you need to know and people will get turned off if you ask for it.

Please Store My Info

This has got to be one of the worst experiences online – you fill out an entire form with around 30 fields, click submit and it says “sorry, that username is already taken, try again.” You go back…and find that the entire form has been reset. There’s no good reason for this except for lazy programming. Let me keep the rest of my info so I can fix my one mistake.

Let Me Know It Worked

Finally, please don’t leave me hanging when I finish submitting a form on your website. Give me some kind of a success page so that I know I don’t need to go back and submit the whole thing again. This is getting rarer these days – most people do have such success pages but I still see it occasionally where the form simply takes me back to the main page or worse, to the form I was filling out and I have no idea whether or not it went through.

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