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The Top 8 Complaints Users Make About Online Forms



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Like any online business that uses forms to collect leads and payments, you’re probably looking for ways to boost your conversions. An easy way to ensure your forms convert as much as possible is to reduce friction.

What’s friction? Friction is any moment in the user experience that frustrates a user and delays or stops them from taking the next step. Friction can add up over time, like when a user slowly grows irritated with the length of a form. Friction can also hit the user all at once, like when the button fails to work properly.

Forms are common places for users to experience friction because it’s one of the few times they interact with your website. You can smooth out the user experience by identifying and eliminating your forms’ friction points.

How do you identify friction points? You start with the complaints. In this article, we’re going to lay out the top complaints people make about using online forms and how to address them. These are quick wins that can dramatically affect your conversion rate.

1. “This is taking too long.”

No one really likes completing online forms. They’re just tasks to get through to get some other benefit, like a product or service. People try to get through them as quickly as possible. Trendy designs and clever copy may convince people to start a form, but it’s still an arduous task most people would skip if they could (which is why autofill is one of the best features browsers have ever come up with).

The best way to help customers get through forms quickly is to make them shorter. Shorter forms mean more conversions. It sounds simple, but it’s true. There are a few ways to do that:

  1. Ask fewer questions. Remove all fields that aren’t necessary for the conversion. You can always get those data points later.
  2. Make the form physically smaller. White space is usually part of good design, but not if it makes your form long and intimidating.
  3. Break long forms into multiple forms over several pages. You might ask for payment details first, then redirect the customer to a new form that requests additional information.

2. “What does ‘invalid’ mean?”

Using words like “invalid” or “error” to indicate form errors doesn’t help the user. In fact, these terms can actually create confusion and frustration. If the user doesn’t understand how to operate your form, there’s a good chance they’ll abandon it.

Try to make your error messages as specific as possible. Give the user actionable feedback so they can fix the mistake. If an entry is invalid, tell them what a valid entry looks like.

3. “They don’t need all of this information.”

These days, we’re protective of our data. But not just our financial information. We want to keep our harmless data points private as well. After all, the harmless data points can still be used to access our identities. If your users don’t understand why you ask for a particular piece of information, they may start to distrust your intentions.

Try to show a clear purpose for the information you collect on your forms. Users already understand why you need their name and email address, but you’ll want to add some context to other questions.

For example, let’s say you’re a business coach selling consulting services. You want to know how much revenue your new customers make, so you add a field that asks, “How much revenue did you make last year?” That’s a personal question, so many customers might balk, but a little context could help. You might add a line of text that says, “I ask so we can customize a plan that’s right for your business.”

4. “I can’t pay with my preferred method!”

When a customer is ready to hand you money, the worst thing you can do is put pointless obstacles in their way. If you only accept one payment method (or a small selection), you risk turning them away.

This means it’s important to let them pay however they prefer. Let them pay using the method they already trust and the one that’s already linked to their finances.

If you use WP Simple Pay for your payment forms, adding alternative pay methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay is simple. You just add the field in the form creator…

Online forms

…and it looks like this at checkout.

Online forms

5. “What was this field?”

To keep forms minimal, a lot of entrepreneurs use the field’s placeholder (you know, the text inside the field) as a label. This seems elegant, but there’s one problem: The text disappears when the user starts typing. If the user forgets the purpose of the field, they have to delete whatever they already typed to make the placeholder text reappear.

Forgetting the purpose of a field isn’t an issue with basic fields like name and email address, but it’s a real problem for deeper questions, like “How big is your company?” Wait, the user might think, did they mean in terms of revenue or employees?

Instead of relying on placeholder text to label your fields, use actual labels displayed above or to the left of each field. This lets the user operate on autopilot so they’re always moving forward.

Use the placeholder text to give the user an example of the field’s expected format so they understand exactly what you’re looking for. For instance, a field labeled “Phone Number” could use “XXX-XXX-XXXX” as the placeholder so the user knows you expect 10 digits.

6. “Why do I need a username?”

Unless your users need display names to use your tool (usually to interact with other users), usernames are almost never necessary. They become just another data point your users and customers have to remember. Instead, stick with two data points your users will never forget: their email address and a password.

That said, there are two cases where you might want to require a username:

  • When whatever is behind the form is especially sensitive and deserves extra security.
  • When users prefer a layer of anonymity, such as a forum where they don’t want to display their real name.

7. “I don’t understand this question!”

If a user or customer doesn’t understand the question on a field and can’t find clarification, the conversion is dead. They can’t possibly get through your payment forms if they don’t know what to submit in each field.

Input labels are the most common sources of confusion. For example, a standard text field labeled “Business” is confusing. Do you want the name of the business, the type, or the industry? Or is that a roundabout way of asking “What’s your business here?”

Field options are another common problem. What should a customer do if they have to answer a question with three options, but none of them apply?

Review each question on your form carefully. Make sure users can understand each question without much pause. You may find it helpful to ask an impartial party to check for clarity.

Then, include easy-to-find help options on the page for confused users. Ideally, this should be a live chat app so they can get an immediate response, but an email or phone number works as well. Kayako does a great job of supplying contact options next to their form in case users need a little help.

Online forms

8. “This form doesn’t work on my device.”

There’s not much to say here. If the form doesn’t work on the user’s device, he or she will never convert into a customer. They won’t suffer through a broken form – if they can use it at all – to buy from you. They’ll just go somewhere else.

Make sure your forms work in every browser. Use a tool like BrowserStack to test your form in all browsers. Make sure the form is responsive, displays properly, and functions properly in every browser for every device.

Reduce Friction

In order to secure the most conversions, it’s important to examine your forms for any sources of friction. Those sources could include the common complaints we listed above, but you might uncover other friction spots we haven’t mentioned.

Review your forms carefully and ask your customers if they found anything difficult. A little tweak could make a dramatic boost to your conversion rate.

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