Web forms are one of the most underestimated elements of a website. What most owners don’t realize is that properly designed web forms could be the difference between success and abject failure, and this is true whether your website is for profit or just for fun.
The truth is, most people tend to neglect web forms in favor of other flashier elements like sidebar design, ad placements, navigation menus, forum organization, etc. And while these things are all important, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t learn how to use web forms to your advantage.
So here are five form types that you should consider adding to your website. Skipping any of these could have undetectable impacts on your website’s growth and user experience.
1. Contact Form
The contact form is absolutely critical. Ignoring it could be the gravest mistake you ever make because it could result in you missing out on certain opportunities, like job offers or press passes to events. And no, a “contact us” page full of email addresses is not the same thing.
Why use a contact form? Because you can ask users for certain details, such as a telephone number. It also makes filtering easier, especially if users have to select the “kind” of contact (e.g. support request vs. press release). Because it’s more convenient as users don’t have to launch their email clients.
Not to mention it’s one of the easiest forms to build these days. If you’re running your website on WordPress, there are dozens of contact form plugins that you can download and use for free. Some are better than others, of course, but they all mostly get the job done with very little effort on your part.
2. Survey Form
You can think of the survey form as a special kind of contact form, but instead of it being for users who want to send information your way, the survey form is for extracting information from your users. It’s the difference between “Here’s what I think of your site,” and “What do you think of my site?”
Why use a survey form? Because it allows you to gather details that can’t be gathered in any other way. The data you gather can be either qualitative (“What new features would you like to see?”) or it can be quantitative (“On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate this site?”), but both are helpful for gauging what your visitors think.
And best of all, survey forms allow you to solicit responses rather than simply waiting for readers to offer it on their own. Some readers may not think they have anything worthwhile to share using a contact form, but ask them to take a quick survey and they’ll open up like a faucet.
3. Newsletter Form
How many times have you visited a website, liked what you saw, left to go check out something else, and eventually forgot that website’s name? Unfortunately, the next time you bring in a lot of viewers (e.g. a post goes viral), many of them will never return — even if they liked what they saw!
Why use a newsletter form? A newsletter is a great way to convert one-time visitors into repeat visitors. All you have to do is show a newsletter signup form just as first-time visitors are about to leave. Then, as you post more interesting content and send out regular newsletters, those visitors will keep coming back.
Just as with survey forms, newsletter forms are super effective because you’re prompting the reader to sign up rather than hoping they do it on their own. Plus, the collection of email addresses comes in handy when you want to market a new product to people who already appreciate the content you produce.
4. Event Registration Form
No matter what kind of website you run, you’ll probably want to hold an event of some kind sooner or later. The actual event could be anything — e.g. fundraiser, online webinar, tournament, live raffle, or even a community meetup — but they all share one thing in common: users need to register beforehand.
Why use an event registration form? Because it automates the process. You don’t have to manually handle each incoming registration, which means it’s the most accurate and effortless way to get things done. Plus, a simple form is the most convenient method for potential attendees, which should increase turnout.
Event registration forms also let you collect important details, such as how many days the attendee wants to stay (e.g. for a week-long conference) or which meals they prefer to eat (e.g. for a special banquet). And if the event requires a free, the form can take care of that for you, too.
5. Donation Form
Donation forms used to be more popular several years ago, but recently have fallen out of favor. Maybe it’s because donations don’t really bring in a lot of money in the grand scheme — people have turned to crowdfunding instead — but you should still have one.
Why use a donation form? Because the donation form lets your fans express their support for you. Whether your website is a hobbyist crafts blog or a top-of-the-ranks news aggregator, you’re going to build a fanbase over time, and you’d be surprised at how often fans want to donate money as a show of support.
This is especially true if you’re providing a free product or service that really makes the lives of your users easier. Donations are for your fans. It makes them feel like they’re making a difference, like they’re more connected to you, and they end up doubling down as fans.
What Kind of Forms Do You Use?
Obviously, you’re free to choose which of the above form types you’ll end up using and which ones you’ll toss aside. But we urge you to really give each one a fair consideration. You might be surprised by how much they benefit your website in ways you never thought possible.
Are there any other important form types that we missed? What’s your favorite way to create and design web forms? Tell us all about it in the comments below!