Designing the Perfect Payment Form in 9 Steps
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Your payment form is the point where customers decide you’re trustworthy. It’s the moment they take the leap and send you their hard-earned money.
Sure, you can slap a PayPal link on a page and let your customers figure out how it works, but if you really want to maximize your conversions, you need complete control over the payment process.
Follow these steps to decrease your customers’ friction when it comes to payment forms and increase your conversions.
Step 1: Keep Them on Your Site
You spend a lot of time and energy getting people on your website, so it’s wasteful to send them to another site to complete a payment form. Once they finish the payment process, there’s a good chance they won’t bother returning to your site to continue exploring your content.
Many payment processors require your customers to submit their payment information on their site. The biggest offender is PayPal, but there are plenty of others.
Use a payment system that allows you to set up forms on your own website you retain all that traffic. With Stripe and WP Simple Pay, your customers can process all their payments on your website.
Step 2: Offer Multiple Payment Methods
56% of people expect businesses to offer a variety of payment options at checkout. And yet there are still websites that only accept one form of payment. Those sites are leaving money on the table!
You don’t have to offer every possible payment method, but it’s important to offer the ones your customers are most likely to prefer.
One of the reasons we like Stripe so much (and why it’s integral to WP Simple Pay) is because they accept many different payment types.
Step 3: Don’t Require an Account
Requiring people to set up an account before they make a purchase is a great way to frustrate your customers and turn sales away.
When Smashing Magazine ran a usability study, they learned that the main reason people dislike setting up accounts is because they worry they’ll be flooded with promotional emails. Truthfully, that’s a reasonable concern because it happens all the time.
“People have come to expect, that when they sign up for a new account, that they also sign up for a newsletter, or ‘spam’ (as more than half of the test subjects had referred to such newsletters),” the study says.
Your customers don’t want another username and password to remember. They often don’t feel the need to create an account because they wouldn’t have to in a brick-and-mortar store. Plus, they worry if they make an account, you’ll just collect a bunch of data on them (again, that’s a perfectly reasonable concern because it happens all the time).
Make your customers’ lives easier by letting them check out as a guest. If you use WP Simple Pay, your customers can purchase without bothering with an account.
Step 4: Assure Customers Their Data Is Safe
According to eConsultancy, 58% of respondents abandon a payment form due to security concerns. Frankly, in an age where financial information is constantly stolen and abused, they’re right to be fearful.
You can make your customers feel comfortable about inputting their financial information by…
- Keeping them on your website (rather than a third-party site).
- Installing an SSL certificate on your site so all information that passes back and forth is encrypted.
- Complying with PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). Usually your payment processor manages this, but check with them to make sure.
For more information, read our full guide: How to Reassure Your Users Their Payment Data Is Safe
Step 5: Ask Simple, Logical Questions
Payment forms are not the place for ambiguous questions or hard-to-decipher language. If your customers don’t know how to answer your questions, they’ll likely buy somewhere else.
Take a look at this form’s language. The phrase “We would like to know” is unnecessary because obviously the company wants to know.
“Prefer” in the second question is confusing. Are we ordering the selected box? If the business doesn’t have it, will we get a different kind? Also, “Please select your preference below” is unnecessary.
Simplify and reduce your questions wherever possible. Don’t serve them a paragraph where a sentence will do. Before publishing your form, have a friend or colleague read it once. Ask them if they understand exactly what you’re asking for.
Step 6: Remove Unnecessary Fields
By the time your customers decide to spend money with your business, the best thing you can do is get out of their way. That means you should avoid placing unnecessary obstacles before them, like form fields that aren’t necessary.
A study by Google revealed that people view complex designs as unappealing. Psychologically, we prefer to interact with websites that are simple and easy to use.
In today’s data-obsessed culture, it’s tempting to try to collect little nuggets of information you can use later. You may want to use that data to segment and personalize your marketing activities.
But for the sake of conversions now, it’s always smarter to reduce your payments forms as much as possible.
Step 7: Identify Customers’ Errors
People inevitably make mistakes when they fill out forms. Sometimes they forget a digit in their credit card number or neglect the “.com” in their email address. When they submit a field improperly, you’ll have to point it out so they can fix their mistake.
If your payment form refreshes, make sure it doesn’t clear the customer’s other information. They’ll grow frustrated if they have to re-complete the entire form because they made a mistake in a single field.
Furthermore, display the error message in or just below the incorrect field. If the error message displays at the top or bottom of the form, the customer might not understand where they made a mistake.
Notice how this form indicates exactly which field contains the error so the customer can fix it quickly and painlessly.
Step 8: Display a Clear Call to Action
When your customers finish inputting their information, you don’t want them to wonder what’s next. So the last step in designing the perfect payment form is to give your customers a clear call to action button.
Use an obvious color, something that matches your website’s theme but still stands out. Avoid ambiguous phrasing like “Next” or “Continue” in favor of clear language, like “Check Out,” “Place Your Order,” or “Submit Payment.”
Step 9: Create a Thank You Page
A “Thank you for your payment” popup isn’t sufficient. You need a dedicated page on your site that makes your new customer feel comfortable about their purchase.
Keep in mind they still have a little lingering anxiety over sending you their money. For the sake of the relationship, you should soothe any remaining fears.
Your landing page should…
- Thank them explicitly for their purchase
- Confirm any important details
- Inform them of any next steps (what they need to do or what you’ll do)
- Give them other ways to interact with your brand (like following you on social media, reading blog content, or subscribing to your newsletter)
Last Word of Advice
We’ve given you some tips to help you design better payment forms, but in order to maximize your conversions, it’s important to design a payment experience your customers prefer. This means you’ll have to A/B test your forms until you find the ones that convert the most.
“I’d love to see more tests on payment page forms and pages,” says conversion optimizer and user experience specialist Craig Sullivan. “As with most ‘Best Practice’ or ‘Winning AB tests’ — remember that they’re meaningless without the CONTEXT of your users, THEIR brains intersected with YOUR product. What works on another site has no guarantee of doing the same on yours.”
In the meantime, use these tips to design forms your customers will love.