My last two columns focused on evaluating the five dimensions that make the 10 design elements of the anatomy of a landing page convert better. A prominent feature found on many landing pages is a form to complete, or at the end of a retail landing experience, forms required to complete a check-out. I haven’t written about designing forms on ClickZ since 2004 or on how to reduce shopping cart abandonment since 2003. (Sorry, as you can see by the 300+ columns I’ve written here, there are many topics to cover under optimization.)

Today, let’s cover seven factors to consider when designing your forms for maximum conversionability and persuadability:

  • Size
  • Fields
  • Labels
  • Benefits
  • Prominence
  • Call to action
  • Confidence building


Size does matter sometimes, if you want to see customers take action! How many actual pixels (height and width) does the form take? I have seen forms that ask for very few fields, but because they look long, they intimidate users into a misconception about the amount of time it might take to complete a form. This is also one of the reasons you seldom want to place form fields horizontally next to each other – it makes the form look scary. For example, you never want to have a check-out with the billing information in the right-hand column and the shipping information in the left column. This is also related to how many fields you ask people to complete as well; the more fields, the bigger the form will be. Don’t make your form look like tax or department of motor vehicle forms.


The type of questions you ask in your form can also make or break its conversionability. If you start asking for a Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, blood type, what they had for breakfast, etc., you can stop a visitor in their tracks. This is the constant battle that marketing faces with sales about what data they need for a lead, while marketing struggles on the quantity versus quality issues related to leads and form completions. The fields you require should always be tested.


Now, it isn’t just what you ask but how you ask it. How you label a form field can have a tremendous impact on its ability to persuade a visitor to fill in the information. In fact, I remember asking my friend Bernardo de Albergaria, VP and GM, global marketing and eCommerce for Citrix, about his most surprising test while I was recording podcasts for the launch of my “Always Be Testing” book. He recalled how the label on one field for a Go ToMeeting account had such a surprising impact on conversion.


Too many companies present their visitors a form without reminding them of why they should complete the form, what are the benefits of completing the form, and what will be the next steps after they complete the form. Check-out processes should show people what items they are ordering (both in text and visually), when the order will arrive, and the total costs early on. One such example is when we added the beautiful gift box that one of our jewelry clients sent with their products in the check-out process – it had an immediate and direct impact to conversion. In lead generation, you could do similar things especially when promoting a white paper or Webinar; merchandize your B2B offering effectively.


Make the form jump off the page. Do you make it obvious that you want people to complete it? Adding a bit of color behind the form and a bit of design around the edges, or a simple graphic or icon is often enough to make it more visually prominent. If you are offering a white paper, possibly include the cover of it by the form and remind them of the benefits.

Call to Action

What do they click on when they complete the form? There are several factors that matter here: text versus graphics, shape variations, colors, style variations, icon variations, size variations, legibility, location variations, and wording. You can read about the details about each one of these in this column, “Calling You to Action.”

Confidence Building

Establishing trust and credibility on a Web site should be its own column. However, there are several general ways to build confidence for your visitors; you can leverage others credibility (known third-party endorsements and reviews, trust marks, customer logos ,etc.), leverage the voice of the customer with reviews and testimonials, use point-of-action assurances to ease concerns, doubts, and fears, and do everything else to provide a quality experience.

Are you showing good form? Test and leverage these seven form factors and boost your conversion rate today!

Please share if you think others would benefit.