A Tip to Increase Form Conversion: Use Required Fields Wisely

When creating a form, the form builder allows you to specify whether your want each input field to be required or optional. The meaning of required is obvious: form users will not be able to submit the form unless a value has been entered for each and every required fields. For radio buttons and drop-down lists, that means users will have to explicitly select an option between the ones provided. The decision to make a field required is not to be made lightly, because that could frustrate the user and affect the form’s conversion rate.

Radio Button and Drop-Down List as Required Input Fields

The meaning of optional is more subtle as it is different for text input fields (text boxes, multi-line text areas) on the one hand, and radio buttons and drop-down lists on the other hand. That’s because in the latter case users only have a limited set of options to choose from, and the first option in the list is always selected by default.

In the example illustrated below, we’re building a registration form for an event. The form should accommodate up to two delegates. The first delegate is required, but the second one is optional. It turns out that:

  • The first set of radio buttons or drop-down list should be required.
  • The second set of radio buttons or drop-down list should be optional, with None as the default option.

Required or Optional Radio Button and Drop-Down List in the Form Builder

Because None is selected by default, the form user won’t have to do anything in the most likely scenario where he’s only registering one attendee. This will save him time and frustration, and will statistically increase the form conversion rate and reduce form abandonment.

4 Responses to “A Tip to Increase Form Conversion: Use Required Fields Wisely”

Hi, I’ve got a form where I have 3 drop-down lists, where filling out one of the three lists is mandatory, but if one is filled out, the other two should report nothing. Is there a way in order to get Optional Fields to record no information for the excel report, rather than automatically selecting the first option? I tried putting in my own “None of the Above” option, but it doesn’t work nicely when pivot tabling the data in Excel.

Posted by: Mike | Sep 29th, 2011 12:45 pm

We can change your “None of the Above” option to an empty string.

FormSmarts Posted by: FormSmarts | Oct 4th, 2011 11:02 am

That sounds great, what do I need to do to change that?

Posted by: Mike | Oct 4th, 2011 4:36 pm

Simply email us the FormSmarts.com URL of your form mentioning this post. You’ll find our email in the Help section of the site.

FormSmarts Posted by: FormSmarts | Oct 4th, 2011 4:45 pm

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About the Form Builder Blog

The Online Form Builder Blog is published by FormSmarts, a web form service providing all you need to create a form and publish it online in minutes. FormSmarts makes it easy to build a form and embed it on your site. You can then get form submissions by email or store them on FormSmarts and download an Excel report. Learn more about the many other benefits of FormSmarts.