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Create Effective Web Forms Using the “Just-In-Time” Design Strategy

If your website conversions are low, have you carefully planned out the forms on your website? You could be experiencing web form abandonment. I will discuss just three common places where Just-In-Time web design is needed in your website forms.

What is Just-In-Time design? Take for example the envelope I opened yesterday. I opened this piece of mail to pay a bill. And right where I stuck my thumb in to rip it open, it read “Wouldn’t it be nice to open less mail?” My eyebrows went up, and I almost said “Yes!” out loud. That was the only statement that grabbed my attention on the entire mail item (including the Amount Due). The key was: Timing and Placement. Let’s apply this design principle to your online forms.

But first, please take about 15 minutes going through the main contact forms or e-commerce forms on your company’s website. Have you ever done this? I am surprised by how many business owners have never sat down and gone through the basic steps taken by their website users every day.

Make a note of pieces of information that are just perfect, helpful, missing, out of place, or not useful. Go back a page and then forward a page in your browser. Is the information still there? Do you need to input it all over again? Type in the wrong information or skip a required field. Click “Submit.” What happens? Are you frustrated yet? So are your website visitors. And frustrated customers will quickly abandon your site and surf elsewhere.

Using Just-In-Time Website Design for Effective Online Forms:

1. Handling Form Errors. Many forms on the web are extremely long with many required fields and special formatting requested. When these demands are not met, users get errors and become frustrated.

  • If a field is required, let the user know at that point in the form, on the same line as the form field (not at the beginning or the end of the form).
  • Don’t use color coding or asterisks. Who has time to read the fine print to figure it all out? It’s better to permit the user to enter less information (only what is actually necessary to process their request) and to allow for spaces, no spaces, and parentheses in account and phone numbers. But if that’s not possible, tell the person right where it’s relevant. For example: Enter your social security number (Ex: 123-45-6789).
  • Ask your web designer to do dynamic error checking. That way, if the person makes a simple error, the user will be alerted to their mistake immediately at the appropriate location in the form before they go through the trouble of submitting it.

2. Offer your privacy policy when they need it. Do you read privacy policies for pleasure? No. It’s usually when you need to establish trust and figure out what on earth a company wants your home phone number and middle name for. When you ask a person for any personal information, you need to prominently link to your privacy policy right there. Let the user know up front that you won’t be selling their email address or sending them spam. Even if no one reads it, the link lets them know you care about their privacy and helps ease their mind during the form submission process.

3. Offer registration after you get users’ information. You’ve visited a beautiful website, found an amazing product, and want to quickly buy it before you have to run off to an appointment. Time is tight, and BAM! You are asked to register. You may not plan on revisiting this site, so you don’t actually want to register. This is another place where the Just-in-Time design principle comes into play.

  • When a person wants to purchase a product, they should be able to enter their payment information and make the purchase quickly. After that is finished, then ask if they would like to register on your website. At that point, you already have their information, and it can automatically be applied to their registration.
  • This is a much simpler, more natural and polite way to solicit registered users and your customers will appreciate you for it. They may even come back to visit your website.

These were just 3 common places where your online forms can be improved. There are dozens of places where this principle could be applied in online forms in order to improve the user experience and to drive sales.

Jamila Vaughan of Mindspring Design is a web & graphic design consultant for small businesses making your brand work for you. Contact Mindspring Design today at info@mindspringdesign.com for a consultation or analysis of your website.

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One Response to “Create Effective Web Forms Using the “Just-In-Time” Design Strategy”

  1. Peter Dwight says:

    Do you outsource your graphic work for your website? I like them and would be interested in knowing who did yours!

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