Creating User-Friendly Forms

Have you ever clicked way from an online form that seemed too time consuming to fill out? Or perhaps you've wondered why a website was asking for your contact information. Prevent form-abandonment and speed up data entry on your website by sticking to a few guiding principles of form design.

  • Know why the form exists: know internally about why your agency is creating a form: this means understanding how it fits into your workflow, who will be using it, and how they will be using it.
  • Keep things short: Forms which are very long looks like too much effort from a user’s perspective, and can result in more data loss should their browser or internet connection experience issues while filling it out.
  • Break it up: with the above in mind, break long forms into multiple parts, saving the information as the user goes and giving them a sense of progress.
  • Section out: For longer forms, group related fields together in form sections. This is especially important when a form might be filled out by more than one person.
  • Be honest: If you have a good reason for requiring sensitive information such as address, date of birth or salary then explain why it is required and how you will protect that information.
  • Order logically: when adding fields on the form, order them logically from a user’s perspective, not the database. For example, you wouldn’t ask for someone’s work history before their name.

Once you’ve finished designing your form, ask one or two coworkers to fill the form out and provide feedback. Since they understand your agency’s unique workflow, they will likely have valuable feedback as to what should be added or removed.