Developing a registration form for your website can be overwhelming. How much information should you ask for? Is your form visually appealing and eye-catching, but not so intrusive that it frustrates your users and leads them to bounce from your web page? What’s the minimum information you need to keep in touch with those who have registered for your event, newsletter, or to receive updates about your business? Should it be a popup form or a static web page? Your registration form plays an important role in your overall digital strategy, so you want to get it right.
If you’ve ever filled out a registration form that asked for way too much information, was confusing to fill out, or kept resulting in errors despite your many attempts to guess the right format for your phone number or birth date, you understand all too well just how much a poorly designed registration form can negatively impact a consumer’s perception of a business. Obviously, you want to develop a registration form that captures all the essential information without turning users off, is eye-catching and visually appealing but not overly intrusive, and that doesn’t take users eons to fill out and submit – because, of course, you actually want them to complete their registration so you can grow your email list. To learn more about the biggest mistakes marketers make when developing a registration form – and what you should be doing instead – we reached out to a panel of digital marketing experts and asked them to answer this question:
“What’s the single biggest mistake made when trying to develop a registration form?”
Meet Our Panel of Digital Marketing Experts:
Keep reading to learn what our experts had to say about the biggest and most common mistakes you could be making when developing your website registration forms (and how to avoid them).
Arthur is the co-founder and president of ISBX, a market leading software development and consulting agency which serves global brands including Apple, Nike, L’Oreal, Warner Brothers, Lexus, and Red Bull.
“Many developers make the mistake of taking their web form and dropping it into their mobile app without any modifications. Forms designed for using a mouse and keyboard on a big screen will not work well on a small mobile screen.
A major issue is that on mobile, some forms do not offer a sufficiently large touch target. This can lead to users trying to touch one form field but accidentally missing and activating an adjacent field.
Follow best practice design guidelines. For touch targets, Apple recommends at least 44 by 44 pixels, and Google recommends at least 48 by 48 pixels.”
Charlie has been working in the digital marketing space for years now and has had the privilege of becoming head of marketing at Imaginaire, a leading digital agency. Helping businesses grow and increase their inquiries is the core of what they do.
“One of the most common mistakes that I see on a regular basis is that businesses use multi-column forms on their websites or newsletters. Studies have shown that multi-column forms often take longer to fill, look a little more daunting and have a higher abandonment rate. However, when taking advantage of single-column form, you’ll see that people finish them quicker, and have an easier time doing so. The abandonment rate of forms will often correspond with the number of fields the form has and the amount of time that it takes to fill it out. While this might seem far-fetched, moving the mouse is one of the biggest contributing factors to the time it takes to fill a form out. If you have to go from left to right to left again or go from the bottom of one column to the top of another, this can add seconds to the task. These seconds are more than enough to make some people quit halfway through and abandon your form.
Instead, using a single column form means that the user only has to move down slightly, or they can even use the tab key in order to reach the next field. This means that there is less friction and there are fewer obstacles in the user’s way.”
Matt Weidle is a Business Development Manager at Buyer’s Guide.
“I think the biggest mistake in developing a registration form is ignoring the usability of a drop-down list design. Why? Drop-down lists are one of the most efficient elements in designing registration forms. Since users are already given numerous answers to choose from – it minimizes errors, avoids unnecessary details, and saves the user’s time thinking of appropriate responses.
It simply reduces the turnaround time of users in answering the form. Filling up registration forms can be tedious. As much as possible, we want to get the details and information in a hassle-free manner. Adding a drop-down list element can enhance the user experience by maximizing their time and efficiency in responding to the forms.”
Derek Whitaker is a Marketing Manager for Estone Technology and performs freelance marketing analytics and WordPress optimizations and evaluations for SEO targeting for small businesses.
“The biggest mistake I see in many companies when building a registration form is not incorporating the proper set of analytics into the form. I have seen many varieties of forms on different company websites. Some do direct emailing of the submission to a business address, others will store the information in a database on the website, and some do both. While some of these forms provide a unique identifier to the recipient, it’s surprising how many of them do not send this information to analytics for session tracking. Some websites still don’t report to analytics at all!
I find that there is massive value in being able to tie your form submission to analytics in order to identify and process a lot of the data captured by the session activity that is helpful for business practice. Most of the time, the objective of a form is for lead generation. Your potential customer does not always want to fill out a long intrusive form. You can lose leads by making forms too complicated. The other side of a simple form is that you do not collect enough information about the submission prior to first contact; that’s where analytics comes in.
By using event reporting in analytics, when you send a unique form submission ID to your tracker, you can identify:
- Source / Medium: Where did your lead come from? Organic? Direct? Referral?
- Geo: Does their browsing geo match with their form submission? It’s useful to ID timezones for a good time to follow up by phone.
- Landing Page: What’s the first piece of content they consumed on your site?
- Pages: What are some of the pages they visited while they were on your site?
- Pages Per Session / Time on Site: How much content are they consuming?
- External Event Triggers: Did they click on your social media pages? YouTube? How far down specific pages are they scrolling?
Knowing where your lead came from and what type of content they are consuming can help you prepare for the initial contact point and reveal more information on your lead during the first touch. Your sales reps should go into a first contact knowing as much as they can about a customer.”
Joe Terrell is the Founder at Drifted. He is a Web Developer and Entrepreneur.
“The biggest mistake in developing the registration form is setting too many fields for manual inputs. The more effort it takes a user to register, the higher are chances that they will not complete the form or be distracted by some other tasks.
If you really need all the information you’re asking for, make it easily accessible (ask for the zip first, and once it’s indicated, auto fill in the fields like country and city) and consider reducing manual input by giving options to choose. Believe me, users who appreciate their time will value it a lot!”
Stephan Baldwin is the founder and CEO of AssistedLivingCenter.com, a company which provides marketing services to over 10,000 senior communities across the U.S.
“When trying to develop a registration form, the single biggest mistake is to try to build it yourself from scratch rather than searching for an existing solution. An existing solution can usually be customized and, when you use an off-the-shelf product, you benefit from a whole host of advantages. For instance, the learnings gained through experience by the developer can result in better ways of doing things than you may have thought of. It’s likely to be cheaper, and you also get to share the cost of future improvements with other users. But most valuable of all, you get the job done a lot quicker and have more time to focus on your areas of expertise, where you can gain a better ROI.”
Aaron Simmons is the founder of Test Prep Genie. He believes in studying smart rather than studying hard to be successful. On the blog, Aaron shares tips and tricks on how to develop smarter study habits. Learn how to test prep the right way. Ace any exam and become one step closer to your educational or professional goals.
“People don’t realize just how important it is to have stepped questions. When you break up the form through stepped questions, you can capture a person’s email address even if he/she abandons the form. An added bonus is that consumers tend to convert at much higher rates when presented with a single field or two at a time.”
Jyoti Ray is the Founder of WPMyWeb.com. He writes about blogging, affiliate marketing, email marketing, etc.
“One of the biggest mistakes made when developing registration forms is only using placeholders instead of labels. Labels tell users what information to put in the form field, and it’s placed outside the box. On the other hand, placeholder text is located inside a form field that gives additional hints. However, it’s common to see that many designers only use placeholder texts to describe input fields of a registration form. This may look clear, but it can hurt the user experience.
When a user types something in the form field, the placeholder text goes away. And, if the user forgets the hint, he has to delete what he wrote. Moreover, if the form is long enough, users can’t check their inputs before submitting a form.”
Daivat Dholakia is the Director of Operations at Force by Mojio.
“When developing a registration form, you should always mark required fields and include text with guidelines. Placeholder text is useful, too. My observation has been that the number one mistake you can make when creating a registration form is neglecting to give people the information they need to fill it out properly. If you require a password to be six characters long, make sure they know that before they try to submit it. If you require that they enter their address, mark the fields with a red asterisk. The quicker people can fill out the form correctly, the better your chance is of nailing the registration. When people get frustrated, they abandon registration forms – and they abandon your product or service.”
As Snap’s Director of Strategy, Abby seeks paths that position their clients – and the agency – for success. ROI is her North Star, and tacos are her muse. When she’s not talking digital trends or Patronus animals with her co-workers, you can usually find her relaxing at home with her husband and her dog, Hank, while enjoying a glass of white wine.
“You would think a registration form is hard to mess up, or you would probably forget simple questions like age, gender, or any other demographics. However, as marketing experts, it is the worst mistake to not ask the user to subscribe to an email list (ours or if we are working on behalf of a client).
Anyone completing an online registration form of some sort will have already added an email to receive a confirmation. But some people (business owners) will overlook the simplest task of asking if they would like to receive any updates or special promotions in the future, missing a great deal of ‘yes’ responses. This means potentially lost revenue because people who would absolutely sign up, simply didn’t. An email list is one of the most powerful things you can have for a business as those people not only agreed to be in that list, but they also want what you are selling, regardless if it’s a product or service.
There is truth in saying if you don’t ask you will never know or receive it, so make sure this mistake is not made when creating a registration form. Always ask if they want to be part of your community, and keep in mind that the work doesn’t stop there. It’s important to build that relationship over time, so if you are working on building that email list, you have to touch base with them on a regular basis, or they will either forget about you (bad), or mark you as spam (worse).”
Joren Wouters is the Founder of Chatimiz.
“The single biggest mistake is that the registration form is company-focused. The maker of the registration form mainly thinks one thing: ‘What information does the company want of the user?’ However, you should think: ‘What information is needed for the registration?’ And believe me, in most cases that’s only an email and a password.
In many cases, registration forms ask for a lot of information from the user. This makes the form boring to fill out and possibly leads to a lot of users not finishing the form. But, when you look at the specific information that truly is needed for the registration, it often is not much.
Also, many registration forms contain questions that are kind of repetitive. For example, when you ask for the URL of their company, you probably don’t need to ask for the name of their company because you can see this on their website. The same is true for asking how many employees the user’s company has, as this question can often be answered by a simple LinkedIn search.”
Roy Morejon is the President and co-founder of Eventys Partners, a full-service product development firm and marketing agency.
“The biggest mistake that marketers can make with their registration form is disabling autofill. Autofill saves time by filling up the personal information section, containing all the critical data needed by your business. Since entering personal information can be repetitive and boring, the absence of an autofill feature might discourage people from finishing the form or lead them to commit errors. However, you can rest assured that the entered information is accurate with autofill, and more users will submit their registration successfully.”
Kristaps Brencans is the Chief Marketing Officer at On The Map.
“When it comes to lead generation forms and landing pages, the main focus you have should be related to the quality of your copy. Remember the main goal of the page, which is to influence and convince people to take an action they wouldn’t otherwise take. I would say the biggest initial mistake I made in my marketing career when it came to crafting successful forms was not valuing the sales copy as much as I should have. Whether you have a landing page, a sales page, or are trying to get web traffic to fill out a registration form, copy is your lifeline. The more I learned about copywriting, the better my conversion rates got, and the more I was able to influence potential customers to take action. Study copywriting, but don’t over-complicate it. It’s not some lost art that takes years to master; it’s really just sales in the written word.”
Marina Vaamonde is the Founder and Commercial Real Estate Investor at PropertyCashin.
“Don’t use CAPTCHA; use reCAPTCHA instead. CAPTCHA is one of the best ways to validate if a user is a human or a robot. Using CAPTCHA prevents spam and ensures that the gathered form submissions are high-quality and unadulterated. However, CAPTCHA can be annoying, even for humans. When users encounter CAPTCHA too much, they might leave the form without submitting any information.
I recommend using reCAPTCHA instead. reCAPTCHA distorts words and digitalizes them so only humans can comprehend the text, while robots will find it difficult to process. Standard CAPTCHA techniques are more complicated, from visual puzzles to math questions, making them more troublesome for human users.”
Martin Orefice is the Founder of Rent To Own Labs.
“The biggest mistake you can make is creating a slow-loading form. Most internet users have developed a strong preference for fast-loading apps, websites, or applications. People relate anything digital with speed and convenience, so if you have a slow-loading form, people will likely exit rather than waste their time.
One of the easiest ways to improve form loading time is to lower all your media files’ sizes. Adding images and videos in forms can be a visually-stimulating treat for users, but it can also compromise loading time. Converting photos into smaller resolution files and applying caching techniques are two great methods of reducing latency and load time.”
Mike Nemeroff is the CEO and Co-Founder at Rush Order Tees.
“The biggest mistake you can make when developing an online registration form is not conducting thorough user testing. When you’re trying out new forms and pages for your site, which includes sign up and registration forms, you should always be conducting some sort of user testing to ensure that real online users unaffiliated with your site are able to navigate it and fill out the form without error. User testing allows you to get other sets of eyes on your site to help you fix errors or work through problems, or at the very least, let you know the form is good enough.
What you don’t want is to save these errors and walk-throughs for when you’re already dealing with and losing leads or customers. By the time your site and registration form is live, the user testing should be completed, the results should be analyzed, and the problems should be evaluated and fixed. Conducting these tests will allow you to make sure your user experience is the best it can be.”
Nathan Sebastian is a Content Marketer with GoodFirms, a B2B research and review platform, based out of Washington DC. As a content expert at GoodFirms, he is responsible for market research, data presentation, and preparations of associated content for the IT industry and tech users.
“The biggest mistake in the form development that can result in the biggest obstacle for the users is not providing real-time data validation, preferably ‘Inline Validation.’ Among the two types of validation – ‘After submit validation’ and ‘inline validation,’ the latter is a better way to reduce friction in forms. For the former method, a confirmation message or a set of error messages is sent after the user has hit the ‘submit’ button. Sometimes, stacked-up error messages can get quite irritating, leading users to abandon forms.
With inline validation, the user immediately gets an alert about any mess-up for one field before proceeding to the next. The error message must clearly and politely explain what is wrong in that particular field and encourage users to take quick action.
With a well-designed form validation, you eliminate the user’s frustration with informative error messages. It makes filling out a form a bit more conversational, ultimately enhancing the user experience.”
Chelsea Cohen is the Co-Founder of SoStocked.
“My biggest mistake when trying to develop a registration form was the date of birth format. I hadn’t realized it would be so fiddly! When I entered the format, I realized after publishing the form that subscribers had to keep clicking back to the year of their birth, rather than a simple drop-down. Even typing it in would have been faster.
We had a huge drop-off point here. People born in the late 60s had enough of clicking back, back, and back again. Having discovered this huge drop-off point, we analyzed the page deeply and noticed this date of birth format.”
Simon Elkjær is the Chief Marketing Officer of avXperten, home of Denmark’s most affordable electronics.
“One of the biggest mistakes one can make when developing online forms is not making them accessible for everyone to use. When designing forms, we should all be careful with choosing colors, the size of our fonts, and make sure that we have all the right HTML elements. Applying such changes will not only make your audiences more satisfied with your service, but it is also a responsibility we should all uphold.”
Dave is the Founder and Director of ConvertedClick and a digital marketing expert. He’s a sucker for innovation and has a flair for creativity. Likewise, it’s fair to say he’s an information junkie, who works with an aim to transform the digital landscape.
“The biggest mistake while creating a registration form is asking for too much information. This means having a lot more than three fields. It’s important to understand that ‘less is more’ when it comes to creating registration forms. You wouldn’t want to sound excessively intrusive when you’re establishing the first point of contact through registration. Audiences hate that and are less likely to form a positive impression of your brand. You need to give space to people and infuse an easy vibe when you’re requesting information. It should be smooth and easy.
According to Quicksprout, by limiting the fields to just three, you can drive a minimum conversion rate of 25%. Similarly, another study by Hubspot mentions that by reducing the number of fields from four to three, you can boost the conversion rate by up to 50%. So, it’s not hard to guess that having six or seven fields in your registration form will hinder your success. Stick to golden number three and you’ll surely see good conversion rates through the registration form.”
Max Harland is the CEO of Dentaly and a marketing expert.
“The biggest mistake you can make when developing a registration form is not creating a compelling CTA. Most marketers are pretty relaxed with the idea of creating calls-to-action. For them, it’s not a substantial part of increasing conversion rates. Now, that’s a big mistake because CTAs help you drive instant attention. Having a snackable CTA compels users to click it. It should be strong and catchy.
The days of cliche CTAs like ‘learn more,’ ‘know more,’ and ‘click here’ are over. It’s time to get creative and craft sellable CTAs. For instance, if you’re a company that offers online courses, use something like ‘Start classes now.’ It immediately leaves a strong impact and helps you drive instant attention. Similarly, if you’re a marketing company, ‘Get results’ is a great CTA. It works because it taps into the relevant needs of businesses that want to cement online success.
So, don’t discount the power of attractive CTAs. Leverage them to give wings to your marketing efforts.”
Cierra is the Chief Marketing Officer at Zodiac Guides, an astrological knowledge base.
“The biggest mistake marketers make when creating registration forms is not using a familiar layout. Users have filled out so many forms that they expect to see the typical layout of first and last name and email under the name.
If the layout tries to ‘reinvent the wheel’ by using unusual grouping, the user will be confused. They might even be distrustful of the website and decide not to give their contact information. So, instead of trying to make a unique form, use the standard formatting.”
Jeff Walker is the head of Best VPN Canada, one of the biggest internet privacy websites in Canada.
“When it comes to subscriber engagement, your website’s registration form must perfectly perform its job. As a digital entrepreneur, I know that a website’s registration form is crucial. The biggest mistake that most digital marketers failed to avoid when trying to develop a registration form is using ‘Sign Up’ and ‘Sign In’ together. In a single glance, spotting the difference between these two is confusing. In my registration forms, I never used ‘Sign In’ and ‘Sign Up’ together as it will only frustrate the users. You need to understand that these two are quite close and almost the same. And with it, your users might click the wrong button instead of the other. The key here is not to let your users pause and think about which button to click. At all costs, they should not spend extra seconds of their time distinguishing the differences between the two buttons on their screen. So instead of using ‘Sign In,’ use ‘Login.’ And then use ‘Register’ instead of ‘Sign Up.’ By doing so, you’re making the buttons more recognizable from each other, giving your users a seamless experience.
Filling out your forms should be fun. And when designing a form, you should put your users’ convenience first. And it simply means not wasting their time or frustrating them with clicking the wrong button. Everything should be clear and interactive. And always remember that first interaction is crucial; therefore, you must make no mistake and should strive to cut down all the barriers.”
Ted Liu is the Founder and CEO of Just SEO.
“The biggest mistake one can ever make when trying to develop a registration form is not making sure that the form loads in every browser, on every device. To maximize the completion of your form, you need to make things ultra-convenient for the registrants. Remember that it is easier for them to click the close button than to continue filling out your form, so you better make the process as fast and easy as can be. Making them switch to another browser or to another device automatically puts you at a disadvantage.”
Aaron Haynes is the CEO of Loganix. They provide data-driven, action-focused SEO/SEM solutions for agencies and businesses to optimize and simplify their internal processes and deliverables.
“Trying to use the registration form to improve the website’s SEO was one of the most significant mistakes I’ve made in digital marketing. We tried experimenting with this idea for a while, but it never quite worked. A web registration form is meant to be simple, clean, and straightforward, which is why it’s not a good place to push for SEO. It just made the registration form more complex and annoying and drove users away from it, which is why we gave up on it quickly.”
Emily is an award-winning marketing, brand, and content strategist with extensive experience in content creation, growth marketing, and leading high-performance creative teams.
“One of the biggest mistakes made when developing registration forms is linking to other webpages before you ask for the registration. I find a lot of event registration pages (and landing pages, in general) have hyperlinks to other webpages on the site, and even other websites altogether. It’s great to share information related to your event, but first you need to get your captive audience on your page to REGISTER. Instead of links on the registration page itself, give your audience only one option: to register for your event. Then, once registered, place the related resources and links to other pages in your confirmation message that appears upon completion of the registration information.”
Seth Price is a partner and business backbone of Price Benowitz LLP as well as the founder and CEO of BluShark Digital. Seth transformed a two person law firm into a 40 person firm, and now uses that same energy to grow a digital agency focused on the legal sector.
“This is a very touchy topic within the practice of law because of attorney-client privilege and potential repercussions. When responding to a registration form, it could be construed by the individual that they are hiring or talking to their lawyer. Technically, they are not their lawyer until an attorney-client representation form is signed. Long-story short, law firms should be very clear when creating a registration form that this does not fall under attorney-client privilege, and the individual should not disclose anything that is private or confidential. This protects both parties and clearly communicates that the form is to spark further communication.”
Ian Sells is the CEO and Founder at RebateKey.
“Pay attention to the UX copy on your registration page. UX writing is a new field that’s emerging. Good UX writing makes it easier for your prospects to sign up for your service. Make sure you pay attention to the little details on the page to make sure it’s easy for your users to move through the process.
Don’t overwhelm your user with a bunch of form fields. If you need to ask the user for a lot of information, it’s better to do it in steps. If somebody lands on your registration page and sees 15 different fields they have to fill in, they’ll drop off.”
Charlotte is the Founder of The Small Biz Expert, a marketing agency dedicated to helping SMEs grow.
“The biggest mistake that you can make when putting together a registration form is not considering where in the sales funnel your audience is. For example, if you are running a registration form on a landing page from a top of funnel advertising campaign – where you audience don’t know much about you yet – asking for their life story on a registration form may stop them from getting in contact at all. Conversely, if you are looking to really focus your time on leads who are likely to convert, it may be better to have a longer registration form to ensure that they are more invested, rather than perhaps waste your sales team’s time on those who are unlikely to be interested.”
Developing a registration form that converts doesn’t have to be difficult. ShareThis has partnered with POWR to make their website popup builder available to publishers directly from our platform so you can create functional, visually appealing, and effective registration forms, popups, and more in just minutes.