Person fills out a program application web form
Person fills out a program application web form

Beyond Aesthetics: Optimizing Conversion with Web Form Design

Web forms are essential for your business-related information gathering needs, providing key information about clients, customers, and patients. They serve as gateways to both customer interaction and data collection.

Is it possible to create a bad web form, though? The answer is yes. Not all web forms are alike.

A thoughtful, intentional, and well-designed web form can enhance user engagement and conversion rates. However, a poorly designed web form can easily lead to frustration and abandonment.

Here’s how to optimize the design of your purchase order form, registration form, contact form, or other web form to keep users from jumping ship prematurely and get the information you need. As you’ll note, while UX design best practices are certainly important when designing a web form, to fully optimize conversion, you’ll need to think about more than just design.

Why Designing Web Forms for Usability & CRO Matters

The simplicity, clarity, and usability of a web form are directly linked to conversion rate optimization (CRO). In case you’re unaware, CRO, as defined by HubSpot, is “the process of increasing the percentage of users or website visitors who complete a specific action to increase the number of leads you generate.”

Kristen Baker clarifies why it’s so important to design web forms with usability and CRO in mind in her piece “Form Design Best Practices: 15 Tips to Boost Conversions and UX”:

“How are you supposed to entice your visitors to take the time to provide you with all of that personal information? Well, you really can’t — not without great form design.”

In other words, if you don’t keep your user and their needs in mind with great human-centered web form design, you’re already at risk of losing them to competitors who do just that.

A well-designed web form is often the difference between capturing a lead and losing potential revenue. Spending a little extra time designing your web forms intentionally can, therefore, pay dividends.

5 Tips for Creating an Effective Web Form That Converts

Now that we’ve covered why it’s important to optimize your web forms with UX and CRO in mind, how do you do it? Here are five tips to follow.

1. Keep Your Design Simple

Form length should be short, as we noted in our blog “Web Form Abandonment Mitigation: 5 Strategies for Higher Conversions.” But more than that, the overall design of your web form should be simple, too. Strive to include:

  • Single Columns: These simplify the path to submission and keep users scrolling through the form.
  • Branded Colors: These encourage familiarity, continuity with the rest of your site, and engagement.
  • Simple Fonts: A serif or sans serif font makes it easier for all users to read your messaging.


2. Save the Hardest Fields for Last

If you frontload your web form with difficult-to-fill-out fields, users are more likely to get discouraged and abandon the page, according to Kristin Baker’s HubSpot article “Form Design Best Practices: 15 Tips to Boost Conversions and UX”.

Therefore, when optimizing for conversion, you should always strive to put these difficult fields towards the end of the form. These may include things like billing information (the user may have to find their wallet upstairs and double-check the credit card number, for instance).

Conversely, information that’s easy and quick to provide — such as name and email address — are best reserved for the beginning of the form.

3. Add Progress Bars for Long Forms

Have you ever spent several minutes on a web form and thought to yourself “Am I almost done?!” We’ve all been there.

This is why Baker emphasizes how important it is to add progress bars for longer forms. It sets expectations for users from the start, and nudges them toward conversion.

4. Use Auto-Fill Browsers

Filling out forms is easier when it’s done for you!

For this reason, Baker recommends automating the process of form submission whenever possible:

“Completing specific form fields is faster than ever now that browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox have autofill features that pull from past information entered on a visitor’s device (like their first and last name). It’s best practice to title each field with a term, or common attribute, that browsers will recognize to help speed up the form completion process for your visitor.”

5. Include a Clear & Personalized Call-To-Action

Your call-to-action (CTA) should be a “closer.” That is, by nature, it should inspire the user to take the next desired action (convert). From a design perspective, there are several ways to ensure your CTA is well-optimized for both UX and CRO.

  • Personalize & Test It: Implement racking initiatives, such as A/B testing popular CTAs like “Click Here” and “Go” against specific CTAs like “Download your free whitepaper on conversion rate optimization now.” As HubSpot notes, “personalized call-to-actions perform 202% better than basic CTAs.”
  • Keep it Separate: Include plenty of negative space around CTA buttons, because, as Affiliatiz notes, “Call-to-actions that are surrounded by more negative space and less clutter increases a company’s conversion rate by 232%.”
  • Include CTA Buttons: CTA buttons result in a 45% improvement in clicks vs. CTA text. For this reason, we recommend including CTA buttons in your web forms in addition to any relevant in-text CTAs.


Create User-Centered Web Forms That Convert With PerfectApps

Easily create web forms that are optimized with a user-centric design and conversion orientation — all with no coding knowledge required!

Don’t take our word for it, either. See how we’ve been able to help others create well-optimized web forms by browsing our case studies now.