Designing form layouts

Designing Form Layouts: 7 Best Practices

Are you looking for the best form layouts to improve your contact forms?

Designing form layouts for maximum conversions can be tricky if you don’t have much experience to rely on.

For this post, we’ve put together 7 best practices to take your form layout designs to the next level and get more conversions.

What’s the Best Way to Design a Form?

The best way to design a form is to think about user experience.

Your visitors won’t feel like filling out a long, complicated form, particularly if it looks intimidating.

Using columns is just one technique that you can use to make your form designs more appealing. Ultimately, the goal is to use a form layout that encourages users to fill out the form in a logical order while minimizing user effort.

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Designing Form Layouts: The Best Practices to Follow

1. Single Column Layout Isn’t Always Ideal

Single-column forms are widely believed to offer better conversion rates than multi-column forms.  But the truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to form layouts.

In fact, HubSpot’s form conversion A/B tests show that two-column forms convert better than single-column forms in specific situations.

For instance, it’s generally not good for user experience if you have a long list of fields stacked onto a single column.

The single-column form example below has a considerable vertical scroll (half the fields are cut to fit into the image), so we can expect users to encounter some inconvenience filling this one out.

1 col form

But the form becomes much more compact if the same number of fields are organized neatly into two or more columns instead.

2 cols

All the fields in the two-column form above are visible on the same fold, making it much more comfortable for visitors to fill them out.

The good thing is that you can easily change your form layouts using the WPForms Layout field.

form layout field

If your form uses numerous fields, you can always experiment with different layouts to find the one that can reduce the form length and improve your conversions.

2. Match Form Layouts to Input Requirements

When designing forms with advanced layouts, the width of your columns is just as important as the number of the columns you’re using.

For instance, if you’re expecting users to input detailed text in your text box field on the right, it’d make more sense if you made the column for that field wider.

columns with different widths

In other scenarios where both sides of your form has identical fields accepting , you can use equal sized columns.

2 cols

WPForms has very flexible layouts and includes 8 different layout presets to choose from. And you can switch from one layout to the other with a single click.

form layout presets

Every form layout offers benefits for different situations. It’s just a matter of using your best marketing judgement to choose the layout most appropriate for your fields.

3. Split Long Forms With Multi-Step Layouts

When you have a short form, all the fields should naturally fit into a single page without any problems.

But things get tricky when there you have a lot of fields. It’s not a good idea to stuff all fields onto a single page if your form is too long.

Instead, you can make longer forms more easily manageable if they’re split into several pages.

multi step forms

WPForms lets you create multi-step forms. Each “step” in these forms appears instantly upon pressing the Next button, so users never have to load the same page repeatedly to get to the next step. This ensures maximum user convenience.

Plus, these forms include a progress bar that helps users keep track of their progress and encourages them to continue until the end.

Like the Layout field, multi-step forms offer another way of combating user fatigue when filling out long forms.

You can even combine two-column layouts within a multi-step form. If one of your form pages is longer than the others, you can use a two-column layout for that section to make your form appear more even from page to page.

2 cols in multi-step

WPForms has many different features to help you minimize form abandonment. In the end, it’s entirely up to you whether you want to use different layouts to get more conversions or simply add a progress bar on the top.

4. Use Mobile-Friendly Layouts

Sophisticated form layouts look great and even convert well on desktops when used smartly. But mobile is a different animal.

A multi-column form functioning perfectly on the desktop may break up when viewed on mobile if you aren’t careful.

Some form builders aren’t mobile responsive unless you put in some extra effort to tweak CSS codes.

mobile responsive design

Thankfully, even the most advanced multi-column forms built with WPForms are mobile-responsive by design.

This means that forms will collapse into a single-column automatically if a mobile device can’t load your multi-column layout properly.

As a result, you can ensure that your visitors always get the best experience and fill out your forms comfortably no matter which device they’re on.

5. Use Conversational Forms

Conversational forms allow users to answer one question at a time. This form layout can be very useful when you want users to focus on each specific question with minimal distractions.

It’s usually a good idea to use the conversational layout for surveys or feedback forms.

preview conversational forms

With WPForms, visitors can fill out a conversational form entirely using keyboard inputs alone, adding a lot of extra convenience.

6. Keep Your Fields Left-Aligned

It may be tempting to center-align your form fields and content to fit a certain style or design. We’d advise against this though, because this is not how most people are used to reading and interacting with content.

Most people read from left to right, so it makes sense to use the left alignment in most cases.

The good thing is that all WPForm fields are left-aligned by default.

simple form frontend

As long as you consistently stick to left-aligned fields, you can use more complex form layouts without confusing the visitor.

7. Use Inline Error Messaging and Validation

No matter how well-designed your form is, you should expect users to make input errors occasionally.

As a result, it’s smart to show error messages that clearly highlight the problem and offer guidance for easily fixing it.

WPForms automatically uses inline error messages that appear right under a field in question. This enables visitors to fix errors in real-time and proactively reduces user confusion.

Validation Error

There are many different kinds of field validation messages in WPForms that appear depending on the nature of the input error. So you can deploy your forms freely and let WPForms take care of any validation issues.

Next, Create Conversational Surveys

Surveys that show one question at a time are great for user experience. They are also easy to implement, using WPForms conversational forms. Here’s how to create surveys that show one question at a time.

For more tips on effective form design, here’s our guide to adding a confirm email address field to ensure that users enter their email addresses accurately. You might also be interested in our guide to the best ‘how did you hear about us’ survey questions.

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