Online forms and checkouts are often poorly designed and massive underachievers when it comes to converting visitors into customers. From over 2 million visits tracked to forms and checkouts, we know that 67% of people that start this process do not complete the purchase. This is a huge figure, and one that should scare all online businesses. How can you stop this?

Here are three key issues you can address quickly. While these won’t fix all your woes, they will be a great start.

1. You are asking for too much information

Forms are always a barrier for users. If they could check out instantly, they would. So it is your job to make it as quick and painless as possible to get through this barrier. For now, set aside the bigger questions about how much information you need from your users, such as a phone number or date of birth. There are a number of ways you can make your form shorter (and therefore easier to complete) without bringing the legal, marketing, IT and sales teams together for a discussion/fight about redesigning the whole thing.

There are two examples of where you could cut down the fat in your form and ask for less information from your users, but still capture vital details from them: Card Type and County (for UK sites).

 This article is great at describing how you can make your credit card fields simpler. The quickest win? You don’t need to ask for card type, as with a bit of trickery, you as the merchant know this from the two first numbers on the card. Visa always starts with a 4, Mastercard with a 5. You can therefore cut this field from your form, as Amazon does:

Counties also have not been used to deliver anything by the Royal Mail for over 15 years. The same goes for couriers. All you need is the postcode and the first line of the address, so asking for more than this is surplus to requirements.

2. You don’t tell your visitors when they go wrong

We see time and time again from our Formisimo data that email is one of the most corrected fields. Whilst this can often just be the fault of sloppy typing, you can build forms that point out where obvious errors are made. This article by Luke Wroblewski outlines the benefits of adding inline validation to your online forms and checkouts.

In essence, inline validation tells your users if they have made any mistakes as they fill out the form, before they click the ‘Continue’ button to find dozens of red boxes and instructions of the many mistakes they have made. The most effective fields to add inline validation on are for difficult questions or ones where errors are routinely made. Card numbers, email addresses, passwords and usernames are all examples of fields that can benefit from having inline validation.

In the previously mentioned article, Luke found a 22% increase in success rates, a 22% decrease in errors made, and a 42% decrease in completion times. Your form or checkout could benefit from the same.

3. You don’t know why they are bad

Unfortunately for website visitors around the world, there is a lack of understanding as to what makes a bad form bad, and in turn how to improve them. You may know that your form or checkout does not convert at the rate you would like, but why? Where do users get stuck?

 It is important to use real data on customer behaviour to guide your decision making. A/B testing of forms and checkouts is a great step towards making it easier for visitors to turn into customers. We went one further by creating Formisimo, an analytics tool that tells you how visitors engage with your online forms and checkouts, but maybe that’s just us.

There is no easy way to create the perfect checkout or form – it involves time, testing and as much data as you can get your hands on. But once you have started to improve your form and seen conversions rise as a result, it will have all been worth it.