How to create user-friendly online forms

Online surveys and forms are becoming commonplace, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re well-designed and user-friendly.

I often feel tired reactions. After attending an event, I’m afraid to fill out the survey form to tell the presenter or organizer that they did a great job. From my experience organizing events, you quickly learn that most people like to complain about catering, air conditioning, and issues that are beyond your control. I’ve gotten to the point where I refuse to waste my precious time filling out unnecessary online forms.

However, if you need to create an online form, here are some useful tips to improve the user experience.

Online forms: best practices

  • Use the minimum number of fields to prevent the user from abandoning the form
  • Top left field names are easiest to read (may be the default setting)
  • Try to avoid multiple fields on the same line
  • Avoid asking super sensitive questions about income, politics and religion
  • Avoid asking unnecessary questions that don’t add value to your results, such as title, gender, full address (probably city is enough) etc.
  • Use a descriptive call to action
  • Avoid captchas

Make sure answers follow a logical sequence and use headings to group similar questions into sections. Users prefer a button with a call-to-action description rather than just a generic “Submit” button.

I like to test new online forms with a few different people to make sure they understand the questions and provide helpful answers. When testing an online form, it’s a good idea to quietly watch and observe your user without making comments or suggestions. You can encourage them to verbalize what they are thinking and feeling during the process.

After completing the testing phase, you will need to verify that the responses you receive in the backend are useful. At this point, you may want to change the wording of one of your questions. You might consider changing the form type or adding explanatory text to add helpful context.

Over the past two years, data privacy legislation requires you to take data seriously. Consider the European Union’s GDPR and California’s CCPA. As part of your website policies, you will need to develop a privacy policy. This will specify how you will use the data and how long it will be stored.

You might like to use Google Forms Where Survey Monkey to create your online forms. For personal use and a small number of users, these are free. Survey Monkey provides a number of free survey templates it might help you use the right language and provide a solid starting point.

The survey results can then be exported to MS Excel or Google Sheets to analyze the results and create charts and tables. You might want to spend some time cleaning up the data before creating your charts and moving the answers to MS Word, PowerPoint, email or a webpage.

.CSV definition: A comma-separated values ​​file is a delimited text file that uses a comma to separate values. Each line of the file is a data record. Each record consists of one or more fields, separated by commas.

A well-designed online form has a place in your market research and customer feedback through extensive user testing. Consider adding a gift card or small prize as an incentive to encourage users to complete it.

Please leave a comment to tell us about your experiences with creating online forms:

Photo credit: by Adeolu Eletu to Unsplash

Melvin G. Rodriguez