The who, what, where, when and why of custom registration/donation forms.

In a nutshell, what is UX?
The age of mobile devices has forced us to look at user experience (UX) closer than we have ever had to. Now, from desktop to mobile, good user experience is an enormous factor driving conversion rates on your website pages and online forms. Custom registration and donation forms that provide a good user experience are essential for your organization’s success.

Who is doing this extremely well? 
Here are two examples of nonprofits that are taking good user experience into consideration when designing and building their online forms:

DONATION FORM (WE BUILT THIS):
Be The Match

REGISTRATION FORM (WE DID NOT BUILD THIS):
LIVESTRONG

Why does it matter?
Donation and registration forms that come “out of the box” in most platforms, are often un-flexible in what you can do to change their UX with configuration alone. Some platforms for example, force users into a multi-step registration process that can feel tedious to complete. A standard registration process might have up to 6 pages with numerous fields to fill out. Customizing this experience to instead have 1 page with 4 fields for example, would most likely result in a higher number of registrations.

There is data to back this up. In some studies, we found that 42% of users think that online forms are too long in general. We also observed that the number of input fields in a form is directly tied to the conversion rate of your donors. One study showed that a form with 3 fields had a 25% conversion rate, while a form with 8 fields had a   -50% drop in conversion to a rate of 12.5%.

Where should I start on execution?
There are some things you can do right now to improve the usability of your forms.
First, audit your current forms and make decisions about what information is and isn’t absolutely necessary to capture in the registration or donation process. Any fields that aren’t necessary should be scrapped. You can always get that information from your constituents after the fact, by engaging with them in other ways like via the Participant Center (CLO), email campaigns, surveys, etc.
Another thing you can do, if it is allowed by your platform, is to put all the fields into one single page, instead of multiple steps, again, keeping it as short and concise as possible.
Next come the customizations. With Javascript developers can do a lot to improve the usability of your forms. Here are just a few examples:

  • Use GPS to populate location details
  • Inline validation (lets the user know if there’s an error as they are entering data)
  • Placement of fields in the page
  • Hiding and showing options based on user selection

Finally, a lot of platforms offer APIs that developers can tie into in order to build fully customized solutions. This route often offers the most flexibility, but requires experienced front-end (and sometimes back-end) developers to make it work. The sky is the limit here: Imagine a form that populates with data by scanning a business card, or a mobile form that automatically pulls in your phone number and then let’s you make a donation with your mobile wallet. The possibilities are endless…

How can I learn more?
Resources on our website:
Path To Success
Make The Most of Your Mobile Site

To view the studies we looked at visit:
Which Types of Form Fields Lower Landing Page Conversions
The Registration Challenge (Infographic)