We loved working with our intern Shira Beder, whose last day with us was just last week. In this post, learn more about the form design lessons she took away from her time at FormAssembly!

After eight months as an intern on FormAssembly’s marketing team, I’m pretty confident that I know more about forms than the average college student.

That’s not to say that students don’t fill out tons of forms, what with scholarship applications, job applications, course evaluations —you name it, it’s probably been in my inbox at some point.

But working at FormAssembly has helped me go beyond an outsider’s understanding and develop a heightened awareness to the minutiae of form design. Implementing best practices for design and configuration can make the difference between a user filling out a form or sending it immediately to their trash folder. From the back end, I now understand the intricacies of effective data collection and the most crucial features your forms need to have.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Appearance Matters

Think about the most user-friendly websites you know; Airbnb, Instagram, and Warby Parker are all names that may come to mind. What do these websites have in common? They all combine simplistic, aesthetically-pleasing design with an intuitive, easy-to-navigate interface.

The same should be said for your forms. Design can make it or break it when your target respondent is deciding whether or not to fill out your form. No matter how important the information may be that you’re collecting, if your layout is cluttered, unprofessional, and hard on the eyes, it won’t take more than a few seconds for them to decide it’s not worth their time.

So how do you use design to your advantage? Combine elegant, professional colors and expertly laid-out form fields with recognizable branding elements. Make your forms consistent and give them a personality—your respondents should immediately be able to associate your forms with your company.

It’s Not About What You Ask, But How You Ask It

We all know that feeling when you open up a multi-page form and all you see is an endless amount of text. Your heart races, your palms sweat (okay, maybe not), and you can think of at least 50 other things you’d rather be doing than filling out this form.

The last thing you want is for your respondents to feel overwhelmed when they see your form. To prevent this, minimize the number of questions you ask and the number of words you use to ask them. Less is truly more in this case, and you should strive to avoid unnecessary filler content in your form design. Think about what you’re really trying to achieve by having someone fill out a particular form and then craft your questions around this goal. Taking a straightforward and organized approach to asking questions is key. The less time it takes your respondent to understand and fill out your form, the higher quality your responses will be.

Also, use conditional logic to your benefit (but first make sure the form software you’re using has this feature, so you don’t have to deal with any complicated coding).

Here’s an example: let’s say you’ve created a job application form that lists multiple open positions. Rather than having all the application information for every position visible to the respondent, you can use conditional logic to show only the relevant fields once the respondent has selected which position they’re applying for. This makes the experience easier for your users and could increase form submission rates.

Another important thing to keep in mind is making the form experience personal. Decide who your target respondent is and then tailor the form. Be conversational in your questions—your forms can have a distinct voice.

Don’t underestimate the power of incentives, either. People are much more likely to give you their feedback when they know they’ll get a gift card or some other reward in return.

Forms Should Make Lives Easier, Not Harder

Congratulations, you’ve designed an awesome form and your audience is responding!

Now, what do you do with all this data? Making your form pretty and organized is a very small part of the data collection process. Once you have this information, you need to be able to store it in a centralized location that’s secure, accessible, and easy to update.

Form solutions with a Salesforce integration allow you to connect form fields with individual records and keep information up-to-date and organized. This creates a streamlined customer management system and mitigates the risk of losing any important data.

Maintaining Data Integrity is Always Priority #1

One of my most surprising lessons about forms was the element of trust that comes into play. It should come as no surprise that data breaches are a regular occurrence with modern technology.

For this reason, it’s understandable that users may be hesitant to submit their information in a digital form, especially when the information is particularly sensitive, such as payment or medical information. With this in mind, it’s important to be extra selective when choosing a form builder. You want to be able to promise your respondents that their information won’t fall into the wrong hands, that the highest level of security is enforced at all times, and that the software you use has all the appropriate certifications.

Placing a high priority on data integrity is a win-win for both the respondent and the organization collecting data. Your respondents will feel more comfortable filling out your forms and you’ll likely receive more responses as a result.

If you’ve got any web form design lessons you want to share, be sure to comment below or tweet us @formassembly!

And if our software sounds like it may be exactly what your organization is looking for, head to our website to check out our different offerings.

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