Forms have traditionally been a pain-point for website visitors. While they’re a good way to collect information from visitors in a highly-structured way, they also an opportunity to frustrate.

The more fields, the fewer respondents

With forms, less is more. There’s a fine line between being a nuisance and being helpful. (“Want to join our mailing list? Answer these 37 easy questions…” vs. “Enter email here.”)

The more fields you expect people to fill out, the fewer people will bother. It’s just human nature: people don’t want to invest the time. It’s seen as invasive, and on mobile devices, entering information can be laborious. If you expect people to answer a lot of questions, consider their motivation (what’s your carrot?), the time they may have, whether or not you’re interrupting them, the privacy implications, etc.

Think carefully about the overall process. Be clear about steps and stages.

Reset buttons: grasping failure from the jaws of success

Reset or Clear buttons — positioned dangerously close to forms’ Submit buttons — need to stop existing. They’re an opportunity to screw up and have to start over (in other words, giving people an excellent reason to leave your site out of frustration). This is especially dangerous because users’ expectations — which are based on the conventions of whatever operating systems they’re most familiar with — can lead them to assume the Submit button will be either the first or second of the two buttons. People in a hurry don’t read carefully.

This is User Experience 101.