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Off-Brand Forms Are Off-Putting For Users


You’ve invested in a beautiful brand that clearly communicates who you are and what you do. Customers fly through your website enjoying the stunning graphics, consistent formatting and gorgeous design.

As they approach the end of the sales funnel a form appears. Suddenly this beautifully branded world is replaced by a failing form that jars their customer experience.

Have they landed on a different website? Is this the right form? Is this a consistent business that can be trusted? These are the questions that poor forms can raise. And none of them are positive for your organisation.

Creating flawless forms is a surefire way to deliver a consistently outstanding customer experience. And having the tools to let you know what’s working and what isn’t is part of that journey.

We explore the three main areas impacted by poor form experience and what you can do to take a customer centric approach to ensure customer satisfaction.

What’s the Impact of  Poor Form Design?

Forms are often the last stage in the sales funnel. Which means your organisation has spent a lot of time and money getting people to the point of completion by marketing on TV, radio, press and digital platforms. Getting the form wrong:

  • undoes all that hard work
  • increases the cost of conversion
  • reduces return on investment across the whole of the sale funnel

A form that doesn’t measure up casts a long shadow over the product, service and company.

An example of this can be seen on the Hiscox website. In the image below, the brand is strong at the top of the page but as you click to apply for insurance the old-fashioned form looks and feels inconsistent with the colourful, modern design.

Source: Hiscox

While this might be the easiest way for the business to create their form, it’s certainly not user centric in terms of delivering a consistent aesthetic. This can be unsettling for users who could find this lack of attention to detail sloppy; not a feeling that an insurance company wants to arouse.

Customer Centricity

Customer experience spans all elements of a company including everything from buying a product to actually using it, dealing with customer services and interacting with the organisation’s website and forms.

Making customers happy about each individual interaction isn’t sufficient. Every customer-facing aspect of an organisation needs to tie in together. Only by creating a cohesive and consistent whole will you deliver a positive overall customer experience.

Get it right and the potential payoff is huge. Research shows customer centricity can increase satisfaction by 20 per cent, lift revenue by 15 per cent and lower customer service costs by up to 20 per cent.

Usability Determines Customer Satisfaction

The internet has given us instant access to a range of information, goods and services. With increased speed has come a decrease in people’s patience resulting in visitors who will move on quickly if something isn’t performing fast or easily enough for them.

Designing your form to be functional is critical to its success. 60% of job applicants abandon applications due to their length and complexity. And travel booking websites hardly fare any better:

  • 13% of customers abandoned due to lengthy or complex booking processes
  • 9% due to technical issues
  • 7% have problems with payments

That’s almost a third of potential customers suffering a poor customer experience and leaving as a result.

Improving Form Performance

Poor usability reflects badly on your brand, your organisation and ultimately on your sales. However, there are plenty of steps you can take to rectify it:

  • Keep forms short – form length and conversion rates are closely linked. The longer the form the lower the number of completions. Removing optional fields is a quick win.
  • Make it easy – group similar information together in a logical sequence to reduce cognitive load.
  • Avoid reset and clear buttons – accidentally hitting one of these is sure to infuriate users.
  • Provide visible and specific error messaging – this identifies data entry problems immediately and guides users to provide the correct information while keeping frustration levels low.
  • Establish a UX design language – by setting up a unified set of rules that govern how you design forms, you can complement your overall brand and promote form harmony across a range of media.

Understand How and Where Your Forms Are Failing

Before you can do any of this you need to understand where your form is falling down. Form analytics platforms identify the fields that trip users up or trigger high levels of abandonment. These insights enable you to assess what’s wrong so you can take action to improve your form.

The same reports also allow you to evaluate the impact of your changes either over a particular time frame or on a real-time basis enabling you to assess customer experience on the go.

Acquire Visitors and Convert into Customers

Another key area of form use is online checkouts. Understanding how visitors move around your checkout form and where they drop out is key to knowing how to convert them into customers.

If payment is a problem, form analytics will reveal a drop-off at this stage in the process. You might decide to include a trusted payment gate – like Sagepay or Barclaycard – to your website so you can reap the benefits of another established brand.

Or perhaps your form asks for a particular piece of information that people don’t want to disclose. Key measures – like drop off rate by field, the amount of time visitors spend on each field and which fields produce error messages – will help you take a customer centric perspective. More importantly, they’ll guide you to make changes that will enhance the customer experience.

Source: Formisimo

Help Your Customers Take Action

When a visitor hovers near your form you’ve already done the hard work by developing their intent to take the next step. But if filling out your form feels too difficult – or people feel that they are asked to give too much, or the wrong kind of, information away – this can prevent them from converting.

In one experiment, a company reduced the number of steps from four to two when asking customers to enter their details. This resulted in a 364% increase in form completion; a significant increase in the number of customers moving further down the sales funnel.

Another aspect of form design to consider is placement. Moving your form above the fold or changing the position of a button and running before and after tests will reveal which approach works best.

Good Looks Help – But They Aren’t Everything

Research has shown that users are more likely to accept poor form function if the form looks good. While this will probably benefit you, there’s still a risk that poorly functioning forms divert you from achieving the best outcome.

And major form design issues are still an unforgivable offence – no matter how handsome your form.

Understanding which changes have made the greatest impact and which leave something to be desired is critical in ensuring your form is customer centric.

Asking users about their experience is one way to establish customer satisfaction but human judgement can often be coloured by how much someone likes the aesthetic of your form. Instead of relying on subjective views to unlock design problems, use hard data.

Form analytics help you continue the customer experience by providing customer centric insights into the performance of your form. Use this knowledge to make changes, test the outcomes and review the impact and your form will become a seamless extension of your brand.