Minding Form UX: Designing Web Forms that the Brain Loves
Why Design Forms for the Brain
One thing marketers will benefit greatly from is to remember that the brain is lazy, very impatient, and is on auto-pilot majority of the time.
It has a sophisticated filtering system so that the logical part of the brain only kicks in when we have to deal with complex problems.
Most of the time, bouncers in the brain keep information at bay and away from the logical brain’s consideration as this part is expensive to operate.
With forms, they must be perceived desirable and easy enough to accomplish for the brain to be moved to expend effort to complete it; otherwise, the visitor will bail.
Consider these tips on persuading visitors to fill out forms based on how the brain works:
Ask For Only What You Need
If you want visitors to go through with form fill completion, ask only for the minimum information necessary to complete the transaction.
Remember that even simply reading form field labels requires effort. If you only have a few form fields (e.g. asking only for an email address), the visitor is less likely to hesitate filling out the form.
A lot of marketers, of course, are worried that lead quality would deteriorate without the extra fields.
There are, however, other ways to ensure that the value of every form fill is maintained. For instance, you can link your website with a customer relationship (CRM) system to identify visitors who have provided information in the past vs. new visitors.
You can also use one-click Facebook or LinkedIn authentication/login buttons to grab additional information you need.
People want instantaneous results online, and interrupting them on their path results in form objections.
As it is, forms are already perceived as barriers by your visitors, so putting elements that further delay them from completing forms is a sure-fire way to reduce conversion rates.
The most notorious among these is the CAPCHA, which requires visitors to complete a task before they can proceed with form submissions.
Sure, CAPCHAs could be effective in keeping away bots and spammers from your forms, but they can also deter highly qualified leads.
Requiring visitors to jump through additional hoops, such as having them interpret malformed letters and crossed-out numbers, can discourage even the most motivated user.
Expect a lot of your users to bail out once they encounter the CAPCHA or after their first failed attempt with it.
To err is human, and this couldn’t be truer in web forms.
Expect a lot of form fills to return errors – from validation issues to incomplete fields to simple typing mistakes. Your best course of action is to anticipate these errors and design your form with them in mind.
A lot of times, when an error occurs in a form fill, it can be difficult to pinpoint what the error is and where it happened exactly.
If there is an error, direct users to the missed form field or inaccurate data, highlight the area, and explain the problem succinctly. Showing form fillers what to do and where to do it can help boost conversions even on lengthy forms.
Reduce Cognitive Load
Sometimes a long form can’t be helped, especially when you want to increase lead quality. That doesn’t mean, however, that there’s no way for you to minimize the cognitive load.
The easiest way to improve the performance of a lengthy form is by changing the presentation of the fields. By grouping similar fields together, the brain will perceive the form shorter than it actually is.
In the image below, for instance, visitors will tend to view the dots in clusters instead of counting them individually. That’s because the brain automatically groups them together for faster and easier processing.
So reduce the toll lengthy forms takes on the user’s brain by grouping similar fields and dividing them into sections. In the form below, for instance, visitors are oriented to see the process as giving their address, billing address, payment type, and credit card information instead of 17 fields.
The fact that your visitors have gone far into your website to encounter the form means they’re ready to take action.
Your form, therefore, is the only thing that stands between them and their goal. That and the inherent laziness of the brain which dislikes anything that looks complicated or time-consuming.
Keep the brain basics in mind and reduce the actual and perceived complexity of your form to improve conversions.