UX Tips to Design Better Online Forms

Designing online forms Dec 15, 2021

In the era of digitalization, where the technology is constantly booming, the service process and collecting data becomes vital. Offline forms are there in the industry for a long time now. Digitalization is making the process and services faster, but what about online forms?

Forms are the necessary medium for accumulating data. Often the online forms are tedious and result in decreasing completion rates.

This blog will help you understand the UX behind designing a form.

The pleasurable UX behind a form lies in understanding the needs and giving attention to the minute details.

Our aim should be to create an effortless interface with clear labels and the most appropriate input field to reduce the effort and cognitive load of the user. Implementing design heuristics like Visibility of status, user’s freedom, consistency; will help you to build a brilliant design and make you understand the reasons behind the form’s UX.

There are a few components and basic elements of forms that you should keep in mind while designing forms:

The Inputs

Design heuristics: Visibility of System Status/Error Recovering and Error Prevention

The main function of a form is gathering required data and the best way to gather data is through input fields. Input fields mainly have 3 basic elements; text field, the label, and error message (if any). While putting these elements together we should always prioritize the needed information and give the user the freedom to undo the errors.

Labels and Placeholders:  

Replacing placeholders with labels in a form field makes it difficult for the users to remember what information goes in the field and it decreases the possibility of recovering errors and checking them. It also adds a burden on users with visual and cognitive impairments.

Labels are not helpful texts. Using short, descriptive labels (a word or two) allows users to quickly scan the form.

It is good to put labels on the top as it helps the user to go in a flow and supports responsive design.

Radio Buttons, Checkboxes, and Dropdown

Using radio buttons, checkboxes, and dropdowns as input fields increase the efficiency of filling the forms and provides flexibility to the designer. Radio buttons can be used for inputs where only one specific answer can be selected, for example, gender fields. Checkboxes are used in places like agreeing to an agreement, giving users a choice of undo and redo. Dropdowns are preferred when there are more than 5 or 6 options to select from.

Design heuristics: Match between system and the real world

Long forms, with many fields, can feel overwhelming. By creating groups, the form will look neater, and it's better with the user experience point of view. Creating logical groups helps the user to interpret what is being asked in the form faster. Grouping related fields together also helps users to make sense of the information that they must fill in. For example, the name, email ID, Mobile number can be in personal details and street, city, PIN code can be added in address details.

Error State and Status

Design heuristics: Error Recovering and Error Prevention

Error visibility is the most crucial element of the form. We should keep our requirements clean and clear so we can prevent possible errors. The error messages should be prominent and simple to comprehend. The errors fields should always be easy to locate and we need to make sure the users don’t get a cognitive load to remember the instructions to fix the error.

We can warn users of a few specific fields to fulfill the requirement and prevent possible errors. For example, a password needs to have a certain number of characters and combine both numbers and letters, let the user know. You can include ways to show how strong the password is as they enter it.

The CTA’s

Design heuristics: Visibility of System Status/User control

Visual weight

Giving a distinguished visual weight to action buttons has a significant impact on the users. The button with heavier visual elements becomes more prominent and attracts more attention.

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Clear and Actionable CTAs

A good CTA button isn’t just about asking users which action they will be performing. It’s about making the actions clearer for the users and making them feel confident about the next step. That’s why it’s so important to have a clear CTA for every step. An explicit CTA gives users more confidence in selecting the correct action.

Making the main action of the form more prominent than secondary action can avoid mistakes.

Exclude the unwanted fields

Always be open to finding creative ways to have only the minimum number of fields visible. Remove optional fields and think of other ways to collect data. Understanding if the question can be inferred, postponed, or completely excluded. First, eliminate as many optional fields as possible. If some fields truly are necessary clearly label them as optional. Limit the form to only 1 or 2 optional fields.

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Communicate the Next Step clearly

The user needs to know what is happening or how many steps are remaining to finish the form and submit it. The visibility status motivates them to finish the form and proceed ahead. Often using steppers helps them to know at what stage they are on and what will be the next step for them. Steppers can be well defined giving clarity to the users. Here having a clearly defined CTA helps the user to not feel anxious while making a payment or proceeding ahead to the next time. Clear and defined CTA boosts their confidence in the form-filling process.


Forms are often a tedious task to fill. Designing them isn’t fun but when done with a lot of attention and details it can make a huge difference in the UX of any service.

Communicating clearly defined call to action, giving hints to the user through warnings and placeholders, and offering auto-complete. We, as designers should always keep looking for new ways to optimize the efforts and provide a seamless experience to the users.

We at Fibonalabs provide great services in User Experience Design by adopting a human-centric approach. Click here to know more about us.

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