February 8, 2023 at 1:18 pm | Design, web.

Any form, on any page is always a duel between how much information you want from a user for a specific asset or goal and how much information the user is willing to give up in order to get the item that they want. (The asset, download, information etc.)

All the things on the page besides the asset, download, information etc. is friction. The more information to sift through, the more friction. I cannot state this enough.

A good example of this is why people hate recipe sites that don’t just show you the recipe. Making you sift through the page in order to get the information. That is page that doesn’t even have a form to get the information!

The highest amount of friction on a page is the form itself. For each form field you ask for, you double the amount of friction applied and increase the barrier to getting people to fill it out. “Do I really need to give you my phone number or can I get this information someplace else?”

The most important part of a landing page, signup page, resource page for just about every company I have ever done work for is the FORM. Yet this is usually the one part of the page that marketers and companies are unwilling to change when chasing the internal metric of getting more more users to submit a form, try a product, signup for an asset, or download a trial.

Why is that?

The main reason companies put these barriers in place is to better sell you the product or service that they are selling. If they are NOT selling a product or service, then YOU are the product or service. Your information or preferences that is.

The amount of mental acrobatics that I have witnessed when assessing a poor performing form page is truly breathtaking. It is the “color of the graphic”, the “padding on the paragraph”, the “favicon?”. It must be “that amount of users with ad blockers”, or those pesky people with javascript turned off. Anything Oh anything but the form fields.

Somewhere along the process someone has decided that they need X information from the user in order to best qualify/route/partner/filter the incoming submission. In most scenarios this X part of the equation is non-negotiable as far as the marketing team is concerned. So in order to chase better returns they need to chase all the other possible problems, real or imagined, that could be wrong with the page.

Ways around form friction

Here are a couple of ways to reduce the form friction problem. Some of them simple and some of them radical

  • Remove everything but the email – I’ll start with the radical because I think it is the best solution. Most forms don’t need anything more than an email anyway. The rest of the forms fields are there to make the user self select into queues in your CRM. You are basically making the user do your work for you.
  • Progressive Profiling – Lots of forms allow you to start with minimal information and then as the user asks for different info you add more fields that you would like them to fill out. First asset is just an email, next interaction you ask for company or name etc.
  • Data Inference Services or Enrichment – These are services like Clearbit.com which fill in other information that it has about a user so you don’t have to present fields about company, title, name, category. These are usually keyed off the email field and it does a lookup in the background to gather information about a prospect. Another type of data inference fills in the information once it gets to your CRM platform rather than on the front end of your website. This would be something like Demandbase.com