5 common offences that businesses make from their online forms


No online business wants to experience prospective customers abandoning their website, app, registration process or shopping cart. But the shocking statistic according to Baymard of more than 70% of visitors doing just that, even on the most well-established of online retailers’ sites, is a sobering thought. Haemorrhaging revenue or prospective clients in this way could hit your business’s health hard.

So what’s stopping your virtual till from ringing?

What’s holding back people from registering to get your latest industry-standard white paper or newsletter?

Why is your contact page giving you such a high bounce rate?

LeanTiger has listed five common offences, below, that could be preventing your customers from making that sale or at the very least they are making users experience a jarring journey when trying to perform other tasks. This ‘friction’, when combined with other pain points, could lead to abandonment.

A website or app that has the rest of its user journey giving an optimal online experience can stumble and fall at the most crucial of hurdles – the online form.

1. Prospective customers want to know if details are mandatory or optional.

As the NNGroup (Nielsen Norman) rightly states:

Remember, as much as you’d like to think otherwise, nobody wants to fill out a form — whether on a small screen or on a large one.

Online forms are all over the internet. They are part of the make-up of online interaction. Forms allow transactions to take place in secure environments, therefore, giving customers peace of mind. They help customers buy-in to a company, product or area of interest by allowing them access to relevant information that can give a personalised experience.

Forms are there for our convenience. And yet a lot of businesses, without knowing, fill them with so much friction that they soon become an inconvenience!

A simple solution to avoiding confusion and frustration for any user of an online form can be to provide them with a key as to whether a field is mandatory or optional. Online checkouts can be some of the worst offenders with only 24% of e-commerce websites giving guidance!

This large-scale discovery by Baymard found that sites not explicitly marking both required and optional fields risked:

  • customers dealing with validation errors that could be avoided;
  • customers having to figure out which fields needed details to progress further;
  • a checkout that slowed the process down enough to make abandonment a choice.

But it’s not just the checkouts that need to be checked!

Optional fields can come in many guises depending on your industry. They are usually designed around what you perceive as your clients’ interests or the benefits they are looking for from your products and services.  Optional fields could include:

  • Newsletters
  • Customer loyalty programmes
  • Forums
  • Blog comments
  • Company name
  • Personal title
  • Delivery instructions
  • Billing address (if different to the delivery address)
  • Address (line 2)
  • PO Box numbers
  • Phone number
  • Voucher codes
  • Gift wrapping service
  • Order comments

…and this is obviously not an exhaustive list.

Leaving your customer to agonise over whether they should leave their phone number, only to find that it’s mandatory anyway, is not the way forward for an ideal customer journey. Even if you just state required or optional in the relevant fields, your business will be helping your customer.

2. Your customers don’t want to guess your form’s preferred format for adding text.

Auto-formatting shouldn’t be mixed up with Auto-correct. A weak dictionary linked to auto-correction will become a frustrating burden to a user very quickly; whereas, auto-formatting takes all of the guesswork out of your online form’s syntax.

Just allowing a form of editing that matches the capitalisation for addresses or adheres to the format of digits for an online account or phone number can mean fewer validation errors. The customer feels more confident in the accuracy of what they’re typing into the field and it makes spotting typos easier when they have finished entering the required details.

Over 80% of websites with a checkout don’t actively aid their users to more accurately enter and submit the 16-digit payment card number!

Enabling auto-formatting seems like a small step towards customer satisfaction, but it will help to alleviate frustration at some of the most crucial points in your customers’ journey.

Which neatly leads onto:

3. Customers want to enter a date in the way they’ve always submitted dates.

Your prospective clients shouldn’t be expected to translate a physical format into a virtual one. Adjusting your online formatting to match a recognised date entry is a UX (User Experience) win that can be implemented relatively easily.

As we all know, people’s lives are governed by dates, be it:

  • work
  • family life
  • social events
  • leisure
  • health appointments

…and they don’t want to have to think about which way your business would like a set of dates entered into a form.

From booking a holiday to seeing a health specialist to claiming expenses on a business card, this part of a user journey should be flawless due to its importance.

A staggering 90% of e-commerce sites force users to enter payment card expiration dates in a different way to what’s printed on the physical card!

Don’t add to the 90%. Set your business apart from the rest and give your customers a user journey that runs smoothly and has them returning regularly.

4. Address Line 2 is stopping consumers in their tracks.

There shouldn’t have to be any ‘How to fill an online form in’ courses in existence, everything should be intuitive; so why make your customers feel like they need to study one?

When it comes to adding text to Address Line 2, it shouldn’t be making customers think about formatting and structure. You want them to focus on putting their address through on your form ‘right first time’, so they can register with you or get your product delivered to them ASAP. You don’t want them stuck, thinking:

I’ve got nothing to put in Address Line 2; why is it even there?

Do I need to spread the address details across both text fields?

Have I filled in Address Line 1 correctly?

Harking back to Common Offence No.1 in this article, your business could be guiding customers by letting them know that Address Line 2 is ‘optional’.

Further studies have begun to unearth a design trend that users are warming to, which involves displaying this particular text field as a link. This appears to stop the user from feeling obliged to spread the address over Lines 1 and 2. And you’re omitting another field, thus making your form appear a lot more welcoming.

5. Businesses are making it unnecessarily difficult to submit mandatory information via a mobile device.

As discussed throughout this article, customers don’t like filling in forms. They want a smooth online experience, which feels secure and doesn’t throw up error message after error message. And the inputting of information is key. So, here’s another ‘low hanging fruit’ UX solution that applies to mobile devices:

Give the customer the right keyboard at the right time!

When a form field expects numbers to be entered, then it’s only right that the customer should expect the numeric keyboard to appear for them to use. The same goes for auto-capitalisation being present to help with addresses and the post codes that complement them, as previously discussed.

Another win can be gained by making each keyboard layout consistent, so as not to confuse the user as they move from text to numeric to alpha-numeric. Tests have proved that inconsistency interrupts the customer as they begin to question whether they were interpreting a field correctly.

54% of m-commerce sites don’t auto-optimise the keyboard on a mobile device to suit the form field being used!

To sum up

Getting your online forms fully interactive and performing seamlessly doesn’t mean an overhaul of your business’s online presence. We’ve helped many companies with Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).

For more information on how to improve your customers experience on your website why not contact us at info@leantiger.co.uk for a no hassle consultation or alternatively visit  www.leantiger.co.uk for more information on our products and services.