Registering on a gambling site is a time-consuming task. It takes potential customer an average of 77 seconds to complete the signup process, with the user having to enter information into 17 different fields. Gaming forms ask questions that are more personal than a regular form, as most providers need to carry out identity checks. This creates a longer process but also a greater cognitive load for the user, both of which have an impact on the likelihood of conversion.
The optimisation opportunities for long forms are significant as there are a high number of elements and areas that can be improved or removed. New optimisation opportunities become available as technology changes or new UX learnings are created, leading to an optimisation process that is continual rather than project based.
I carried out this analysis in September 2017. I created a persona that was used across all the gaming sites, meaning that the information I entered was standardized across all the registration processes.
In our analysis I counted only the required fields, so optional fields were noted but not included in our numbers.
Finally, when an average number is noted in this report it is a median average unless stated otherwise.
I reviewed the registration forms for almost every major UK and European gaming company
My research is focused on every aspect of the form, from the form elements, to the timing and mobile usability.
I scored each form based on critical factors that will increase user frustration and decrease conversions
Gambling forms could be half the length. The median number of fields across the 45 companies was 17, with the difference between the shortest and the longest forms being over 800%. Reducing the number of fields has a direct impact on conversion rates.
There is a move to Radio Buttons: the highest scoring companies use fewer text boxes and drop downs. Radio buttons give customers immediate visibility on all the options and less interaction is required to select an answer, saving time and effort.
Inline validation could be extended to show success, as well as errors. 55.6% of companies report back to the user on whether they have entered information correctly or incorrectly after engaging with this field. This gives almost half of all companies an optimisation opportunity.
Each step or block in a registration process is a new page or new section for a potential customer to absorb. There's no magic number of steps that will lead to a higher conversion rate but there's likely to be drop off if the process gets too long.
There's a difference between a long process that has many steps, and one that is chunking down all of the questions so that each question is a step in itself. SkyBet has 5 steps, which is the joint highest number across all providers, but it has a below average number of fields. Sky chunk the process down into bite-sized steps but they don't give clarity to the user on how many steps there are in total, and at what stage the user is. Although Sky's process isn't perfect, it's a positive move away from a single, long form.
Spreadex has the same number of steps in the registration process as Sky (5 steps) but has the highest number of fields (34). The process is significantly longer for the user to complete, which in part is down to being regulated as a financial services company as well as being a gambling company, but their move to splitting up a long form into steps is driven by the sheer size of the process, rather than the desire to test a smaller, chunked down process.
The difference between the highest and lowest number of fields across all the gambling sites is significant, with Youwin requiring 26 fields to be completed and Betstars needing just 4. That's a large difference in time and effort required to complete the form, for what is ultimately the same process.
The average number of fields across all gambling forms is 17. Whereas the relationship between the number of steps (see graph above) and the conversion rate is often indirect, there is a strong relationship between the number of fields and conversion rates. A potential customer who sees a shorter form is more likely to complete it, and the time required to complete a shorter form is less. Aggressively reducing the size of the form, and reducing the effort required to complete it, will have a positive impact on conversion rates.
The majority (57%) of gaming companies have a single step process. For those that don't, how do they split their fields between the steps? Should you topload question in step 1, evenly distribute fields, or leave the majority of fields for the last step?
Excluding gaming companies that have a single step process, the mean average number of steps is 3.05. The majority of providers top-load questions, with an average of 40.6% of fields in the first step, 33.3% in the second step, then 15.7% and 8.4% in the third and fourth steps, with just 2% of fields in the fifth step.
The exceptions to this rule are Skybet and Mr Green. Both sites have a busy first step, but then move to backloading questions, increasing the number of fields in each step. In Steps 2 and 3 both Skybet and Mr Green have around 7% of their total fields. In Step 4 Skybet have 35.7% of their fields, while Mr Green have 53.8%. Skybet have a fifth step in their registration process, and this has 14.3% of their fields.
The question over top-loading (or not) is an important one. Ask too many questions in the first step and the user will be put off, whilst having too many steps will make the user believe that they're engaging with a virtually endless process. It is important to show to the user how far they are in a process, and how many steps are left.
If you're considering turning your single step process into a multiple step process then a sensible starting point is a median across all gaming companies: top-load in Steps 1 and 2, then trail off.
On average a gambling registration form takes 77.7 seconds to complete. There is a significant difference between the best and worst performing, with Betstars taking just 21.6 seconds and Youwin taking 117.6 seconds. (I've excluded Sporting Index and Spreadex from some commentary as they are FCA regulated and their forms are significantly different)
The main factor in form completion time is the number of fields, with a general trend of a lower completion time when there are fewer fields. A secondary factor in time to complete is the type of fields used: text inputs take up the most time, followed by drop downs, then radio buttons and finally tick boxes. Radio buttons take an average of 2.8 seconds to complete (from absorbing the question, to selecting the answer) compared to 3.6 seconds for drop downs. Not only does a higher number of fields mean more time required entering data in the field, but also time between the fields, as the user completes one question and moves to the next one.
Comparing the average time per field for Sporting Index to Betfair shows the importance of choosing the right field type. Betfair has an average time in the field of 4.64 seconds, whereas Sporting Index has 4.20 seconds. Whilst Sporting Index has more than double the number of fields than Betfair, due to being FCA regulated, they're using field types that are easier, and faster, to complete.
Another secondary factor is the number of steps in the process, which are usually separate pages. Each step/page takes time to load, increasing the total length of time to complete the form. An example of performance improvement is Skybet, where 19.28% of the total time to complete the form is related to page loads, whereas just 3.97% of Sportingbet's total time is related to page load.
Radio buttons trump Drop Downs for two reasons. Firstly all of the potential options are visible and readable by the user on a radio button. A drop down requires the user to click and then read the options.
Secondly, the user has less total interaction with a radio button than a drop down, a drop down requires a minimum of two clicks versus the single click for a radio. With a form that has a significant number of fields then saving the user fractions of a second will add up to a good time saving, and a greater likelihood of conversion.
From our aggregated timing data on forms (Formisimo tracks engagement with fields with millisecond accuracy) I can see that the time spent on a radio button (taken from the time of the interaction with the last field to the first engagement with the next field) is 2.8 seconds, whereas a drop down is 3.6 seconds.
Comparing the top five registration forms (ranked using our scoring at the base of the page) and the bottom five forms you can see how the higher performing sites move away from text boxes and drop-downs and use radio buttons. Radio buttons (where the user has a choice between two or more items, presented as items that are clickable) are much easier to complete, they're not ideal for when there's a lot of options but when a user has to make a choice between two to four options it allows them all to be presented to the user without them having to click.
Comparing the UX of a text box (open, requires typing), drop downs (closed list, requires clicking and reviewing) and radio buttons (closed, all options visible) the radio button wins on total interaction required. A radio button requires a single click on the right option, whereas a drop down requires a minimum of two clicks, with an unfurling of the options that will then need to be read and absorbed.
From our research on gambling forms the radio button is easy to restyle, to make it even easier to understand and also fit in with brand guidelines.
The prevalence of mobile usage presents new user experience challenges for forms. Beyond the way that a registration form is presented there's a second challenge of how the user enters data, and dealing with the complexity of data entry compared to entering information on a desktop.
The use of keyboard types on mobile devices makes it easier for potential customers to complete a form as it shows them the most relevant keyboard for the data input. As an example a number or telephone number field should show just the number keypad, rather than the full keyboard. A field that asks for an email address can show a keyboard that makes the "@" symbol visible without having to press the shift key. Adding this functionality to a field is relatively easy, and it generally has a positive impact on conversion rates.
Less than 60% of gaming companies use the "email" keyboard type, with less than half using the telephone keyboard type. Deploying keyboard types is one of the easiest optimisation opportunities.
Inline validation is a good way to highlight issues as a user moves through a form, and when you have a long form with complex questions it's a necessity. Showing errors whilst the user is engaging with a question is better than having the user click submit and then they're then presented with a list of all their mistakes.
The uptake on gambling registration forms is strong, with over 90% of brands having inline validation of some type. What's even more promising is that over half of brands tell the user when the have entered data successfully (as well as when they have entered it incorrectly). Looking back at the last five industries that I have analysed, this is the highest uptake to date.
There is still an opportunity for the remaining 50% of providers to deploy inline validation that tells the user that they have successfully entered information. Although a marginal gain, it is a relatively light touch way to impact on conversion and form completion rates.
Website visitors have all experienced frustrating forms and when they start to engage with yours they are carrying baggage from the times when a form has been annoying. The length of a gambling registration form suggests that it will be a painful process for them.
A good way to keep users motivated, and to challenge their belief that the experience will be painful, is to use positive validation as they enter data. This is often in the form of a tick box next to a field, and is shown as they exit the field and move to the next one. This positive validation keeps the user happy, and helps them believe that when they click the "submit" or "next" button that they will be successful.
Showing errors in-line is equally important, as the user doesn't have to wait until the end of the step to see if they have made mistakes. A good inline validation process will not only show the user if they have entered incorrect information in a field (and so so as they move out of the field) but it will also explain what they need to do to correct it.
An example of insurer AXA using full inline validation. They highlight when information is correct and also when a user makes a mistake (along with a full explanation of what the mistake is). In the image above I have left the postcode field blank, and then moved to the next field.
To score each gaming company I generated a ranking out of 84, which took into account the number of steps and fields (related to the median score for each) and scored companies based on the percentage they were above or below this. I also scored gaming companies based on the removal of unnecessary obstacles, and the mobile friendliness of each form based on the usage of mobile keyboard attributes. Having a livechat and postcode lookup was also part of the scoring process, and using inline validation boosted scores further, along with other form features that I considered to be critical to conversion rates.
The aim of our scoring was to take into account attributes of the form rather than the look and feel. Some registration forms were more attractive than others, but as design is subjective I chose not to apply any marks for forms that I felt looked better or worse.
"If you have forms, you need to analyze their performance. Formisimo does a very good job at providing in-depth information that really helps with optimization efforts. Useful data, simple interface. It is form analytics that actually works, especially when compared to some mouse tracking tools that have form analytics as one of the many features."ConversionXL Peep Laja