Published 20 February 2019 Category: digital marketing, online marketing, lead generation, UI/UX design

10 Tips for Designing a Great Enquiry Form

Visit any website in your bookmarks and you’ll find at least one enquiry form on the page. Whether they’re used for account registration, newsletter signup, online orders, payment details, or user feedback, enquiry forms are an integral part of any business website, and this is especially important for lead generation. To ensure that your visitors actually take time to fill out a form on your website, you must pay extra attention to form design.

Like all other elements of your website, online forms should be practical and user-friendly. A poorly designed online form can turn off a prospect in a matter of seconds, thus costing you a potential (loyal) customer. When it comes to contact form design, you should put simplicity and convenience above all.
Read on to discover 10 expert tips for creating a great enquiry form.

1. Don’t Ask for Too Much Information

The first rule of online form design is to only ask for information that is absolutely necessary. You also shouldn’t ask your visitors to provide the same information (e.g. password or email address) twice in the same form. Otherwise, if they see 10 or 20 blank fields, they will likely be put off by the sheer amount of data they have to provide and leave your website promptly. Even if they start filling out the form, the longer it goes on, the likelier they are to lose interest and abandon it halfway through the process.
 

2. Try a Multi-Step Enquiry Form

If you need to gather a lot of information from your users, it might be best to opt for a multi-step form instead of cramming all the blank fields onto a single page. Simply divide the information into logical groups (e.g. personal information, payment info, contact information, etc.) and organize it into steps.
 

3. Opt for Single-Column Form Design

According to a one-eye tracking study published in 2014, single-column enquiry forms are more user-friendly than forms with multiple columns. For optimal conversion rates, you should only ask one question per row. In addition, the size of the fields should ideally match the estimated length of your visitors’ answers. For example, since most common names don’t exceed 10 characters, there’s no need to make your “First Name” field 30 characters long.
 

4. Make the Labels Clear

The same survey recommends that you should use clear labelling for each field to ensure that your users enter their information correctly. That way, you also prevent them from having to fill out the form again in case of an error. Ideally, all labels should be left-aligned and displayed above the corresponding fields.
 

5. Keep the Action Buttons Clear, Too

In addition to the labels, the action buttons should also be very clear to minimise the possibility of error. Opt for simple calls-to-action like “OK”, “Next”, “Done”, “Continue”, and “Submit”. If you’re adding colour to your action buttons, red may be the smartest choice as it tends to perform the best.
 

6. Use Inline Form Validation

If despite everything errors occur, you should use inline form validation to show your users exactly what the errors are. When they click submit, the form should automatically highlight any errors they have made in a clearly visible colour. You may also want to add short text that would tell the users where they went wrong (e.g. “You can’t leave this field empty” when they fail to fill out a required field).
 

7. Separate Required from Optional Fields

Speaking of required fields, you should always visibly separate them from optional fields. That way, users will know which questions they can and cannot skip. Most online form layout design solutions feature an asterisk next to the required fields. Ideally, the asterisk should be larger than the label font size and/or coded in a colour that would make it stand out on the page.
 

8. Don’t Ask for Phone Numbers

Unless you plan on contacting your users via phone, it might be best not to ask them to provide their phone number. A 2010 survey found that 39% of visitors abandon the enquiry form when asked to enter their digits. If you would still like to have their phone number, at least make the field optional as that significantly increase conversion rates and cut your loss of signups down to just 5%.
 

9. Use a reCAPTCHA Instead of a CAPTCHA

Although complicated CAPTCHAs help website owners fight spam, the users are not particularly fond of them. In fact, research shows that enabling CAPTCHAs on your enquiry forms could have a noticeable negative effect on conversion rates. If you don’t want to disable this security feature, you might want to replace it with a much simpler “I’m not a robot”-style reCAPTCHA.
 

10. Make the Process Simpler with Summary Boxes

As we said at the beginning of this article, your enquiry forms should be all about convenience and simplicity. To make the process simpler for your visitors, you should consider adding summary boxes to your online forms. That way, you can guide them through every step of the process and ensure that they enter all their information correctly before hitting the “Submit” button.

There are some pieces of information that may be of value to you but that users are typically reluctant to provide. These include birthdays, addresses, or the abovementioned phone numbers. If you’re asking for any of those, use summary boxes to explain why you need them and how you are going to use them.