Have you ever wanted to submit a video, picture or tried to fill out a contact form but kept getting stumped?
Each time you tried filling out the form, something blocked you – “please fill in the required field”; “username is already in use”; “please provide a better password”. Though they may be functional rejections from a website owner’s perspective, they can be very frustrating for any visitor.
From just a single rejection message, a new visitor may simply give up if the submission form is too difficult, too time consuming or just too frustrating to fill out.
This post serves to outline the most common ways to make your content submission forms better, and identifies the common blocks that reduce submissions, even online purchases!
What will this do for your website?
You will get more submissions! You may get more purchases!
More submissions means more content, easier forms also means potential readers and customers for your site. You can apply what you learn here to any kind of form on most kinds of sites.
- Visitors may tell their friends about it (free word of mouth)
- Fast checkout (for merchant sites) will likely lead to more sales
- Increased time on site
- Lowered bounces
- Increased customer satisfaction
Fast is important
The faster a visitor can submit something through your form, the better. Do not leave any obstacles to prevent them from getting to the confirmation page (“thank you for your submission, after our review – return to our site to view your submitted content”).
- Ensure your submission form accepts many file sizes, so visitors don’t need to re-enter the file-select stage
- Ensure your submission form doesn’t have too many required fields. Credit card number should be forced but “how did you find out about our site?” should not be forced.
- Ensure the site upload is fast (test the form yourself from multiple computers)
- Allowing social login can be a fast way to get necessary info. The the website owner gets Facebook followers (as an example), gets to learn more about his customers and it can prevent spam. The user benefits because he doesn’t need to create a new username or password.
Remove time wasters, obstacles and frustrations
Here are common obstacles that can severely reduce submissions to your site via forms – which we urge you to consider seriously:
- Do not force registration – most frequent online visitors are over burdened by password creation and may abandon the form altogether. A registration page should not make a person feel tired the moment they see how much work is required. Allow guest visitors, as appropriate for the type of site you run. Get expert advice if you are a merchant.
- Do not activate complex captcha-type fields – a captcha phrase can be frustrating because you may need to re-enter it multiple times, as the text is often too scrambled. But a more complex captcha is difficult and takes too much time. Each failure feels worse.
- Do not add too many required fields (*) – too many fields to fill out is too time consuming. “What’s the reward for filling out 12 fields? Is it really worth my time?” I think a lot of people would prefer 7 fields to 25 fields, and 4 is better than 7. Pick the absolute necessary ones and remove some more. If you find you got rid of something important, you can put it back in later.
- Remove redundant fields: a single name field is enough, but a first, last, middle field is cumbersome to most people for simple submissions. Even shopping cart sites can benefit from some simplification on the credit card and address fields part. Allow guests to buy if you run a shopping site, without registration.
- Check for broken fields – a broken captcha or verification field can be a very frustrating situation, as the visitor has already invested time in filling out fields. Visitors will likely leave pretty quick when they realize they’re facing a no-win situation, and knowing they’ve had their time wasted by a form on your site, they most likely won’t want to try your site again. On the other hand, and spoken from personal experience, quickly remedying a buggy form can be a way to build rapport with your audience; fix the form fast and give thanks, let them complete their submission.
Bigger font, bigger submit button
This is a little complicated in WordPress, but some plugins have made it simpler. Redesigning your form can be as easy as adding a few lines in the CSS file, and it can make your form much more appealing to use.
- Use a font that is slightly bigger: try 18pt and go down until you find a size that works
- Use a bigger button for submission: a good color like blue tends to work
- Test a white background for the form: I believe it is a good color to use on most websites as it is familiar, fonts are more easily legible and it looks clean.
Pre-filled fields: inspiring a submission
Have the fields contain something – for example, in a story field on one of my sites, I have an actual story typed up. The visitor has to acknowledge what the story looks like in finished form, and then they can delete and start their own.
I’ve tried both an empty field and a filled out field, and opted for keeping it clear because on the mobile version, most people won’t be able to delete the filled out field. It is a case by case option that is worth considering, which may help engage visitors if a blank form appears daunting.
Thank you for reading! We hope you learned some things you can apply to make your submission forms better and easier to use.
Please share your results if applying one of the above tips increased submissions on your site!