Web forms or HTML forms are useful tools for getting information from your site visitors and users. They may be in the shape of a simple contact form with just two or three fields or an elaborate application form with complicated business rules built into it. But they are all ultimately made up of a bunch of markup tags rendered by the browser for serving a specific business purpose.
What is An HTML Form?
An HTML form is an interactive webpage with several elements for user input such as text boxes, drop downs, checkboxes and radio buttons, usually followed by a Submit button. Users fill up these HTML web forms as they would a physical form and then hit Submit to send the entered information to the server. Instead of just instructions like in a paper form, web forms also have validations built in to ensure correct data entry by the users.
The 5 Most Important Elements of a Web Form
- Layout – This determines how the form fits into the webpage it is a part of, as well as the order of input elements and where they will appear on the form.
- Input Elements – These are the fields in which the user enters text or selects an option, typically, text boxes, password boxes (a special type of text box), checkboxes, radio buttons, dropdowns, and sliders.
- Labels – Text labels to tell the user what information they need to enter in the field next to it. They sometimes have instructions too.
- Action Button – After entering the required fields, the user clicks on this button to submit the form information.
- Acknowledgment –
A message indicating the success or failure of the form submission is then shown to the user. In case of an error due to incorrect data, the user needs to be informed of that as well so they can submit again with the right data.
There are two methods by which this information is sent to the web server – GET or POST. In the case of the former, the data goes as part of the web server url itself (Query String) whereas, in the latter, the entire form data gets sent together in an encrypted format.
Best Practices To Follow While Designing A Web Form
The best web forms in business are usually the simplest. You do not want to overwhelm your users with long, complicated forms with complex validations. Users can quickly get frustrated and move on to do better things.
Keeping the forms clean and simple is the key to ensuring the success of your lead generation strategy using web forms. It helps in better conversion and retention rates too. But make sure that the business needs, as well as the user’s needs, are met while designing a web form.
Here are some thumb rules on how to go about it:
Make sure that all five key elements are included in the web form, namely, layout, input elements, labels, action button, and acknowledgment.
- Make the web forms user-friendly.- Using short and specific labels, giving examples, marking required fields with an asterisk are some common ways to make data entry easy for users.
- Keep only the most essential fields in the form – Cull the unimportant fields and reduce clutter on the form. Optimal number is 3; more than that your conversion rate will suffer.
- Grab the visitors’ attention with compelling CTA. It should not just convey the purpose of the form but also what the user gets out of it.
- Add visual contrast to the web forms. This will help keep the user’s focus on what needs to be done on the form rather than distract them with the other contents on the webpage.
Pros and Cons Of Using Web Forms
As with anything in life, there are both pros and cons in using web forms.
The best thing about web HTML forms is the way they help us sort and manage data. They collect only the most basic data from the users and as separate fields. It makes storing, retrieving, processing and analyzing the information quicker and easier.
The instant feedback the user gets after submission makes web forms convenient and efficient. The user can then be sure that the information they entered is correct and that it has reached the right place.
The main problem people have with web forms is their over-dependence on web scripting languages. You need to have a developer on hand to make any change to the web form or fix any problems with it. Many web forms use scripting for validations, movement of control and a host of other interactions, resulting in a complex web page that can only be maintained by a script developer. This makes web forms a little expensive to use.
Form Initialization Issues
Setting initial or default values in the form fields can get tedious. If the website wants to initialize form elements for a returning customer, it requires CPU-intensive scripting to retrieve the saved values and display them on the form. This could give rise to performance bottlenecks during high request volumes.
Contact forms with their few basic fields can be a solution to avoid heavily-scripted web forms. They help in weeding out the casual visitors and identifying potential clients. With CAPTCHA, they can be good spam filters too. Users can use these no-frills forms to leave their valuable feedback about your website or business. Contact forms can be used as a conversion goal in analytics and tracking tools too. On the flip side, they are very basic forms which may not go well with the aesthetics or purpose of the website. There is not much formatting you can do with them either.
As you can see, web forms come with their benefits as well as their baggage. But one thing that is sure is that they are an excellent tool for engagement with your customers and have been known to have a good conversion rate and customer retention. At Digital SEO web design, we make use of contact forms to meet the growing requirements of our customers. We focus on providing custom designed websites that strives to meet the needs of our clientele.
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