How to stop harming your business website contact form

Look at the contact form on your website. Count, how many types of information you require from the user? How many of them are mandatory? Name, surname, email, phone, address, company name, message, captcha. The list of crimes is long.  Today, we are going to destructure bad contact forms into pieces.

The outcome from this article – you are going to learn:

  • What is the bad contact form
  • How do users fill the form
  • Why don’t users trust you
  • How to fix your contact form
Bad design of contact form harm your conversion
Stop harming your contact form

The impulse for writing this article comes from Chloe Greenbank who is a Manager BA (Hons) at Rotherham Taylor Accountants. I met Chloe in September on Walton Summit Chamber of Commerce networking event. We had an engaging conversation about user experience design and its role in the modern business websites. I was able to provide guidance when Rotherham Taylor was developing their website in regards to the online contact form. I have explained that the unnecessary element which is proven to be a conversion dropping machine is a mandatory phone field.

If you are wondering why is that so bad for the conversion I will explain to you that in a minute. Firstly, focus on the contact form itself.

What is the purpose of contact form

The contact form on your website is a tool for generating leads. The user is completing the form, and you are collecting valuable data. Simple.

But this is your point of view. The user can, and often does, look at your form differently.

How people interact with the contact form

They utterly hate it! Users are bombarded with forms from all over around. Also, completing a contact form it’s tedious, and repetitive process of typing all the same information on and on again. And they don’t have a time for this. They are busy; the phone is just ringing, kids are screaming, it’s a football game time. And to be honest, they often don’t have to fill that form. They are doing this because they want to achieve some result:

  • Buy something
  • Hire something
  • Check the order status
  • Enquire about a service
  • To say hello

So with that in mind, don’t you want to make this experience easier for them? Of course, you do. Let’s go and take a look at the most common mistakes website owners, like you, make to their contact forms.

What stops people from completing the form

Here is the list of 5 crimes why don’t users fill the form.

  • Too many fields/too many required fields
  • Tricky to fill (too small/too clunky/hard to read)
  • Unclear call to action
  • They don’t trust you
  • They are frustrated

Let’s take a look at these with more details.

Too much (required) fields

One of the most common mistake website owners makes to ask too many questions. It’s a contact form, not a job application! Three fields (name, email and message) are enough. If you need, you can add a phone number field but, mark it as optional. People don’t like to give their phone numbers away if they don’t have to. You can always find out the phone number later.

Why asking for a phone number is a no-no?

People who are contacting you through the website form they choose it with a purpose in mind. They expect (unless stated otherwise) to be replied by email. Why? Because they want to deal with your message when it’s convenient for them and doesn’t want to be bothered by intrusive sale men.. Don’t bother forcing them to give you a phone number. If they wanted to talk to you, they would ring you.

Private note: when I complete the form and company require my phone number which I’m not ready to give away, I provide a fake number. For the sake of my piece of mind.

Tricky to fill – remember about mobile experience

The UK has become a smartphone society. 33% of all Internet users bank, shop and socialise online using their smartphones. That means it is more than likely your users will attempt to complete the form on your website using a smartphone. Your job as a website owner is to make sure this experience is smooth and easy. The mobile screen is of course much smaller than desktop, so the form needs to be adjusted to fit the size.

If your website doesn’t work well with mobile screens, the form will be too small to complete it. Users don’t like pinching and zooming screen to read, so they are going to leave your website without any hesitation.

You are not telling them what to do next

Users on your site need a clear guidance what should they do next. If you want them to fill the form, they need to know what is going to happen after they do it.

The biggest mistake is to place a call to action called Submit. The Hubspot research says that specific call-to-action are better for conversion by 3% on average. So instead of telling them to “submit”, ask them to “send”, “buy”, “hire”, “compare”, “download” or “contact” instead.

People don’t trust you by a definition

You know the great selling funnel called: “Know – like – trust – buy”, don’t you? One of the ways to increase a trust is by professional and good looking website. Users are smart, they all have iPhones and read mobile version of BBC, socialise on Facebook, or order food at just-eat. They know how the best website looks. And the well-designed website is the first step to becoming a reliable site. Take care of your business online, and it will pay off by an increase in conversion.

They got frustrated

When user decided to fill the form, he expects that to be an easy and quick task. He types all information in and is ready to click the SEND button. And then, “Boom!” Surname field was left blank. He didn’t select his title. And the phone number is mandatory… The user is frustrated.

These are hiccups. Elements of your form which are required or supposed to be filled in a certain way, but you did not let him know about it.  Hiccups stop the user from completing the form quickly. These cause his frustration. And you, as a business, don’t want to make your customer frustrated, do you?

Are you a hero or a villain?

Too often contact forms on websites are too long, too complicated or require to provide information users don’t want to give away yet. We all have seen these forms every day. They ask you to put name, surname, email, phone, business name. Website owners think they need all these information right away to be able to follow up the contact. They believe that is the way to gather all contacts. And they are wrong. Don’t be among them. Check your contact form and if you committed one of above crimes, get your hands on it and change it.

Next time I’ll talk about what improvements you can make to increase the conversion rate of the contact form. Stay tuned.

Email me your questions regarding the contact form design. Or if you have any other usability issues on your website contact me on

 image credits: Sofia Sforza