How to improve the necessary evil of forms


Don’t turn away potential subscribers, donors, or volunteers with long forms.

Have you ever adopted a pet? Or attempted to? You might be really excited to adopt a pet, but once you start filling out all the forms you may question why you decided to go this route instead of just going to a pet store.

You don’t want this to happen to your website visitors. If they are about to sign up for an event, download a resource, or donate, the last thing you want is for them to second guess why they’re about to take action and leave your page before they’re done filling out the form.


To do:

  • Reduce the number of fields to the absolute minimum. For email sign-up forms, don’t include more than three fields. The more fields you have, the less likely people will fill them out. Make sure you actually use all the information you collect. If you don’t use it, get rid of the field.
  • Keep the number of optional fields to a minimum, and eliminate them altogether if you can. It doesn’t always register that there are optional fields – people see a long form and dread having to fill it out, even if half of it is optional.
  • If some fields are required and others are optional, make sure the required fields are clearly marked.
  • Consider asking for additional information after someone signs up. For example, if you’d like to segment your e-newsletter by interest, ask about their interests in an automatic email after they’ve subscribed.
  • Embed forms within your articles and announcements if possible. For example, if you’re announcing an event, embed the registration form at the end of the page. This reduces the number of steps to taking action.
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