Tips for Optimizing and Managing Forms on Your Web Site
3. Keep it simple. Use predetermined response options for as many of the questions as you can, to make it easier on respondents and give you the ability to aggregate response data. You can accomplish this by using a drop-down or check-box question type in your form. Common examples of where you can use predefined response options include State, Country and Job Title.
4. Keep it clean. For those questions that have multiple-choice options, make sure you include a response such as “Other” or “Does Not Apply,” so that everyone can respond accurately. Although responses such as these may not be the profile you are seeking, at least you will be able to identify these contacts as less desirable and won’t waste time on them. Another feature to look for in a Web response-management system is the ability to automatically identify and remove “junk” records from your valid pool of responses. Some respondents will enter obviously false information, like “Mickey Mouse,” or multiple keystrokes, like “alkhdflkhsdf,” to pass through forms without providing accurate information. These are not worthy of follow-up efforts, and it will save you valuable time to have these automatically filtered out.
5. Pre-populate Web forms for returning visitors. When you go back to a Web site, isn’t it nice to be recognized? Forms that are prepopulated, or filled out with pre-existing user data, allow return visitors to confirm their information is correct, and they won’t need to retype the same information twice. This helps to improve accuracy, as well as response and completion rates, in cases where additional data is required on return visits. Forms can be pre-populated with user-supplied data from previous visits, if a cookie from the server hosting the form exists on the user’s system. The cookie acts as a key to link the user to the location in the database where their record is stored, which facilitates recognition upon return. If the user has deleted their cookie, you can tell returning visitors to submit just their e-mail address within the form, in order to pre-populate the balance of the information, thereby saving time.