The single golden rule for creating forms—contact and product forms or landing pages—says: the form has to be as short as possible. Each additional field decreases the number of submitted entries. Each additional field is an obstacle for users to overcome and a potential problem that discourages them. Forms have to be short, simple and user-friendly.
The earliest web forms were interminable. Their designers thought: “What else do I want to know about my customer?” and “What information could prove useful in the future?”. Many forms simply followed the requirements imposed by back-end systems. If a back-end system required users’ ID numbers, VAT ID numbers and so on, those data were included in forms. The form – our gateway and interface to the customer – was just a terminal, a splinter of the Big System.
When B2C online communication was something new, that approach wasn’t a punishable offence. Those were the times when customers were happy to just get things done on the Internet. Half an hour spent with a form (via a 56.6 kbps modem) seemed to be a lightning fast communication method compared with visiting a company branch and standing in a queue to a counter.
Fortunately (for customers) those days are over. Forms that try to collect data “just in case” are passé. It is the Internet user’s market, and forms need to be short so as not to discourage them.
That is why you should ask yourself when analysing your form: “Is this data really, critically necessary?”. “Can’t I really sell my services without their ID numbers or mother’s maiden name?”. Imagine a customer who comes up to your desk and wants to buy something from you. Would you turn him away if he didn’t remember his ID number?
Get rid of all form fields your company can live without..