Website Development

How to Create Online Forms That Convert

April 15, 2020

A note from Digistorm: This post was originally published in April 2017. We've updated it to include more relevant content.

As any school marketer will tell you, forms are an integral part to any school website. A well-designed form allows your school to to quickly capture important information from website visitors. However, not all forms are made equal. 

Have you ever started completing a contact form, only to abandon it because it's asking for too much (irrelevant) information? This is a common scenario. In this post, we're going to walk through three steps that ensure visitors to your website have the best possible chance of completing a web form. 

 

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1. Determine the form objective

There are a number of different types of forms available for you to place on your website. Each form has a different objective, and therefore requires different information from the website visitor. The more information your form asks for, the higher your abandonment rate is likely to be. That's why it's important that you collect only the information you need to complete your objective. Here are a few common scenarios.

Subscriptions

If you're looking for visitors to subscribe (usually to school news), your form should be designed so that they can provide as few details as possible. A simple subscription form has limited fields, and its placement can be flexible: you can implement it in the header, footer, or even as a pop-up.

Collect contact details

If you're looking to collect the contact details of visitors who have a general enquiry, consider which contact fields are absolutely necessary in order for your school to direct the enquiry to the correct staff member. Usually collecting their name, email address or phone number and a general overview of their enquiry will suffice.

Event registration

Schools holding events or open days can use registration forms to gather registrations from attendees. Usually you will need more information than a general contact form in order to process the registration. Consider creating a custom form for your events page with drop-downs including session times or days for the event in question.

Prospectus request

For prospective parents who are searching for information about the school, create a custom contact form with a mailing address so that you can send out a prospectus. This form works in two ways, allowing the parent to receive the desired brochure, and ensuring that the school has their contact details for future relationship building.

Providing feedback

Many schools rely on the feedback of their existing school community in order to keep a gauge on how satisfied their community is. Online feedback forms, such as a Net Promotor Score survey, can be used to gather valuable feedback from the community through your school’s website.

Enrollment application

As schools progressively move to online enrollment systems, the applications are being transferred to digital forms as well. These are usually longer forms, as schools require lots of different pieces of information in order to accurately process a student's enrollment application.

 

Read our guide, 5 Reasons to Take Your School's Enrollments Process Digital

 

2. Use clear labelling throughout the form

Giving away data is a big deal, so it's important that you make sure your target audience knows exactly what information you need and why they’re giving it to you. Using clear labels throughout also helps ensure you collect the highest quality data. Here's where you need to ensure your form labelling is as clear as possible.

Form title

Include a title at the top allows visitors to easily confirm which form they're completing (e.g. "Request a prospectus"). You can also include a brief one-line description explaining why you need their information, such as “Complete your contact details and address so that we can send you a school prospectus.”

Form fields

Use clear, descriptive labels for each form field so that visitors know exactly what information they're required to give. Mark mandatory fields with an asterisk (*) and consider using default text in the form fields. 

Call-to-action

Use a clear, obvious and eye-catching button as your call-to-action (CTA) and be direct with your text. For example, use the CTA "Request my prospectus" rather than "Submit".

 

For help with crafting your calls-to-action, read our guide,

Creating CTAs for Your School Website

 

3. Consider the form design

The user experience of your form is incredibly important — in fact online travel company Expedia once learned that they were losing $12 million per year due to an unnecessary field on one of their forms. As we mentioned above, your forms should be as straightforward as possible, only asking for the information necessary for your school to achieve that form's objectives. The fewer form fields you have, the higher your conversion rate is likely to be. Here are some other considerations for your form design.

Left align your form

Keep your form fields to one column — particularly if you're creating a longer form, such as an enrollment application. This natural alignment helps visitors easily read your form without their eyes jumping all over the page.

Ask for a subscription

While you’ve got the captive attention of your target audience and they’re providing you with their personal information, ask them to subscribe to your newsletter or email marketing. It can be as simple as a tick-box at the end of the form and it will increase your subscription rate for marketing purposes.

Make sure it's responsive

There's a good chance that your viewers will be looking at your form on a device other than a desktop browser. That's why it's very important you ensure that your form adapts naturally to any device.

Confirm the submission

Completing the entry of a series of personal information and not seeing a confirmation that the school has received it can be confusing and can lead to re-submitted and duplicate entries. Using either a confirmation page or an auto-responder email, thank the user for their request, confirm that you’ve received their information, let them know what the next steps are and provide a contact method. 

 

Digistorm Websites come with a form builder, which makes it easy to create the forms you need and easily collect user information. Check out our free resource: The Ultimate Guide to School Website Design for more information.