Simple web forms

Thursday, January 27, 2011 by Richard Howe

Website forms are a great way to let your site visitors get in contact without leaving your website, with the added benefit of cutting out spam!

Here are a few rules to follow which will ensure your web forms are sleek, functional and noticeable.

Webform layouts

Any request for unnecessary visitor details should be removed from your form layout. Simplicity is the key. If you are just asking a visitor to sign up for your email newsletters, you don't need to know their mother's maiden name and full postal address! Focus on the essentials, and visitor's won't be put off filling in a few form fields.

All elements should be well spaced, and it's the white space which provides the "clean" look of many great looking forms. Alignment is also important. With a bit of simple styling, it doesn't take much to make sure everything fits together properly, creating a really attractive web form.

Webform fonts

Although the form fonts should fit the style of your site, try and avoid anything which could be difficult to read. You want the visitor to instantly know what information you are asking for, with essential information in bold to stand out against the background.

Webform buttons

The form button acts as part of the call-to-action of a form. What do you want people to do? "Sign up", "Contact us", "Apply now". These are all suitable for button text, for 2 reasons:

  • It's clear what you want the visitor to do.

  • The sentences are only 2 words long and short enough to be used as a button.  

The button should be bigger than the fonts used elsewhere on the form. Keep it large, bold and colourful.

When choosing a button colour, take note of the scheme used on the rest of your site. You want a shade which compliments the style of your website, as well as stands out when someone lands on the page. 

Webform images

Be careful with images on your forms. Although they can be very good at catching the eye and "speak a thousand words"...they can also take away from the clarity and be distracting. If you really want to use an image, choose a graphic which is subject related, and only of very high quality.

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I gave Richard a very vague brief about how we wanted the general feel for the Harley Wines website and said it'd have to please various parties and that this could lead to a lot of back and forth as we tried to please everyone.While it did lead to a lot of back and forth Richard was patient and helpful throughout, and I never waited long for any response or changes from his end while he had to often wait patiently while I got the green light from various members on my end.

However not once did anyone on my end ask for changes to the style or layout of the website and it's had nothing but praise since it's launch.

Considering we did not have a clear idea of what we needed Richard got the sense of the company and really captured the spirit in a wonderfully laid out and user friendly website. I cannot recommend him highly enough!

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