After a decade of designing mobile forms, smart designers know three things: design is constantly evolving, user needs are more refined, and the user experience is everything.
In 2018, more than 50% of the world’s internet traffic is driven by mobile phone usage, and 57% of all U.S. online traffic comes from either a phone or a tablet. This means your brand’s mobile experience needs to be crafted to maximize interaction if you want to help yourself to a slice of mobile traffic pie. But how do you maximize interaction through your mobile form design?
What is Mobile Form Design?
Mobile conversions are often fueled, or at least directed, by some type of mobile form—a page or pop-up that asks users to input information for access to content. Users around the world fill out forms daily, whether through signing up for a new credit card, booking a trip, buying an event ticket, or making an online purchase.
The prominence of mobile device usage made designers rethink the way users interact with content. Today, you’re falling behind if your content isn’t optimized for mobile, and the same goes for your forms. Following common best practices for mobile form design is the recommended way for designers to optimize elements within a form so users can fill them out quickly and without confusion.
Challenges to Mobile Form Design Success
Mobile design would be perfect from brand to brand if it were that easy to maximize interaction and eliminate confusion. The on-the-go, unpredictable nature of mobile device usage presents designers with plenty of challenges that complicate mobile form design success.
Users are mainly concerned with complexity and the time commitment required to fill out a mobile form, so it’s a designer’s job to present a form template that’s easy to use and quick to fill out. Things like the number of form fields, the information you’re asking for, and the difficulty of providing that information all contribute to how quickly a user commits to or abandons a mobile form.
Other mobile form design challenges include:
- Limited real estate – The constrained screen proportions of mobile devices give you limited space to work with.
- Input fatigue – Data input fatigue is real, and users get tired of the interaction when they have to spend a long time inputting information.
- Connectivity – Unpredictable mobile device connectivity is still an issue users and designers have to deal with. Nothing’s worse for both parties than having a connection time out when a user is filling in a mobile form.
- Storage – Back-end storage problems are less prevalent given the popularity of cloud storage options, but data storage and security will always be a mobile user concern.
- Usage context – Mobile means just that. Users on the move interact with their devices and the content served through them in different ways. Part of the design challenge is being able to predict usage context in a way that’s actionable and meaningful.
- Interaction costs – The high cost of mobile form interaction is inherent. This makes using mobile forms a measured gamble. There’s no guarantee visitors will finish your form(s) even after they’ve started, and users will often determine whether a form is worth filling in at first glance.
7 Solutions to Elevate Your Mobile Form Design Strategy
The surface solutions to mobile form design challenges are to present fewer input fields, ask for less invasive information, and make it as easy as possible to enter that information. These are great pillars on which you can build your plan of attack, but the reality of exceeding mobile expectations and mobile form design success is a little more complex.
Here are seven mobile form design solutions to make mobile form interaction easier:
- Reduce input. It may be better for marketing and data collection purposes to split information into multiple fields (like separate boxes for first and last names), but that creates more work for users. The same is true for day/month/year boxes and buttons. Use single-input fields to reduce input.
- Establish a conversational, concise flow. Logical clarity is crucial. Does this make sense from a user perspective? Ask this question every time you place an input field or rearrange the content of your mobile forms. Also, dialogue should be friendly but not too friendly. Create a conversational flow to your form that’s intuitive and inviting.
- Pre-fill value fields automatically. Values like locations and dates can be pre-filled to cut the fat from your form input time while still including important information at a glance.
- Make forms accessible. Remember, user needs are more refined. Visual and cognitive impairments are less of an impediment when designers factor in accessibility challenges.
- Break up lengthy forms. Long forms are best served to users in separate stages. Don’t try to cram everything into one stage, or one page, if it’s going to intimidate users and scare them away.
- Avoid drop-down elements. Remember, you only get so much mobile screen real estate to work with, and elements like drop-down lists and menus take up valuable space. They’re also difficult for users to navigate and interpret. It’s best to avoid them when designing your mobile forms.
- Ask the essential questions. Minimize clutter and confusion when you ask the essential questions and only the essential questions. Every field should be approached with an “Is this absolutely necessary?” design mentality. If it’s not vital information, but you’d still like to include it in the form, don’t be afraid to tag it as optional so the user can skip it to save time.
Mobile Form Design Doesn’t Need to be Difficult
Mobile form design doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult. In fact, the foundational pillars and actionable goals of most mobile forms are often identical—to retain user attention long enough for a conversion. Your mobile forms are most likely to convert when your designers find solutions that reduce complexity, cut down on the time it takes to input information, and improve the overall user experience.