Why do some forms get completed while others linger for days and years with scarce response? Our team at EmailMeForm has come a long way working with online forms to answer this question. Over the years, we’ve distilled these 10 basic principles of a successful online form design.

Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned connoisseur in the form creation space, there’s always more you can do to improve your forms and get the right feedback.

1. Commandment: Keep It Short

We understand that some forms and surveys need many fields to get you the desirable data, but please have mercy on your form fillers. Some of those fields may not be really essential. Take “Phone” for example, do you need both mobile and landline? “Date of Birth” and “Age”? Two address line fields? You’ve got the point.

Dog being shaved
Keep your online forms short and up to the point

2. Commandment: Make Less Important Fields Optional

Think about the fields that are nice to have but not crucial. Most form builder software provide the option to set these fields as optional, so your form takers can choose whether to skip them or not. This is especially applicable to personal questions, asking for opinion, and sensitive data.

3. Commandment: Add Pages & Progress Bar

Split longer forms into meaningful units by pagination and a progress bar. What’s crucial is to make your forms look less demanding at first sight.

Once form takers start to fill in your forms, they are less likely to give up halfway.

4. Commandment: Activate Save & Resume

Any form can benefit from this option, but especially those lengthy surveys. Form takers get interrupted in millions of ways while filling in your form, with save & resume – you’ll allow them to proceed where they left off, save their time and reduce the dropoff rate. Imagine the frustration they’d feel if they come all the way down to the end of a form and after a short pause they come back to find all their answers wiped out! They’d never touch that form again, unless they absolutely have to.

5. Commandment: Ask Simple Questions

Think carefully what you ask and how. Complicated and ambiguous questions can confuse and frustrate your audience. Make questions stupidly simple and keep refining them until you’ve reached the point of absurd easiness! People have very little time and they won’t spend it breaking their brains on your survey. Be specific and keep it clear.

Man thinking about how to structure his online form
Make your questionnaires easy to answer

6. Commandment: Provide Answers to Your Questions

Don’t ask users to enumerate things and don’t leave them with open-ended questions. Make a list and let them check the boxes. This way you keep it simple for both your form takers and yourself. Keep in mind that open-ended questions are harder to filter through, while questions with a limited set of answers will be quicker to answer and analyze.

7. Commandment: Leave a Textbox Field for Comments

Since you’ve already listed out the answers to your questions, how will you know what your customers really think? To get a broader picture from those who care to share their opinion with you, leave them with a comment option. This way, you give them a chance to pour their heart out if they feel like it, yet you don’t press them for answers if they don’t want to type or have nothing to say. Comment box should always be an optional field.

8. Commandment: Use Images

Image field is THE most popular feature of our form builder and there’s certainly no need for us to tell you why. Images make your forms more digestible, user-friendly and they can help you express a complicated idea related to the question you need to ask. People tend to connect with visuals more than words. Or simply, use image field to enhance the looks of your form.

Kids on a birthday party that used online form invitations
Use interesting images to make your forms and surveys inviting to take

9. Commandment: Make It Pretty

An absolute must of a successful online form is its visual appeal. Use all sources available to make your form stand out from the crowd, but bear in mind that it should also reflect your brand image. Most form builders offer a variety of form customization options, together with some ready-made themes that you can edit quickly to fit your vision of beautiful.

10. Commandment: Leverage ‘Thank You’ Page

This is your last chance to captivate your form fillers’ attention, so better use it wisely! After they complete your forms, be sure to thank them with a nice-looking custom Thank You page. Suggest your customers the next step to keep them engaged and guide them through your story. This can also be a good opportunity for a discreet upsell with a smart call-to-action. “Interested to explore more of our custom-made shoes in stock? Click here to view the latest models.” And so on… The possibilities are endless.


To make your form design a success, always keep in mind your form fillers. Your form is usually standing in their way and it’s their good will to spend time feeding your business intelligence with data. Create forms that are beautiful, digestible, and to the point. Follow our advice and your forms will be a pleasure to take, plus you’ll get a nicely packed set of data to analyze and utilize in your business.

If you need help putting these 10 commandments to action, our CustomWorks Team can design, build and integrate beautiful forms tailored to you business. Our CustomWorks Team starts with reviewing your workflow to identify how you can leverage our app integrations to automate processes. In return, you gather refined data from customers, students, employees and general audience to meet your goals. Then we set out to create attractive forms and integrate them with the apps you already use to manage your business (like Google apps, Salesforce, MailChimp, PayPal, and many more). If this is what you need, get in touch and we’ll give you a free workflow review and suggest the best form solutions to meet your requirements and help you gather data and payments effectively and securely.


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