Effective use of webforms opens up many possibilities for bloggers and other webmasters alike. Good webforms help collect data from your users and can manage mailing list or blog update sign-ups. Here are several items and tips to keep in mind when adding forms to your blog. These items will greatly help you increase your blog’s accessibility and usability for your readers.
It’s ok to use a captcha image to prevent spam, but don’t make the verification a major pain for users. If your readers can’t get the captcha right within 2 tries, they will go elsewhere. It is best to shy away from the interactive verifications that involve adding numbers or answering questions about the color of the sky. Stick to a short and fairly easy to ready combination of letters and/or numbers.
Keep your forms simple. If you have no reason to know a user’s address, don’t include the field. Even if the field is not required for submission, it will just cause unnecessary clutter for your readers. Also, make sure that required fields are clearly marked so readers can fill each in the first time around.
Keep privacy in mind. Many people are very nervous (rightfully so) about their privacy online. Unless you really need the extra information, try to keep your forms free of any fields that ask for private information like addresses or phone numbers. Even if these fields aren’t required, they can scare nervous users off. If you can get by with a first name and an email address…do it.
Don’t include unnecessary buttons. Most forms require only one button, Submit. Users can delete information or reload the form themselves…they don’t need a clear button to do it. Plus, few things are more frustrating than accidentally hitting that clear button when you mean to hit submit!
Make the form fields big enough to show what the user is typing. It is better to make the fields a little larger than you think they need to be than for them to be too small. It is very annoying for visitors to not be able to see what they have typed into a field.
Finally, make sure you provide some sort of confirmation that the form submitted successfully. Even a very simple notice on the screen will suffice. Users just want to know that it went through correctly.
These are just a few ideas, so please feel free to add any others that you can think of.