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There's a truism I often hear - claiming that the less complicated the signup process for a web-service, the higher the conversion rate (as a rough measure of complexity, count mouse clicks to signup completion).

Has anyone A/B tested or otherwise measured this impact and reported on their results, comparing a signup process with a "where did you hear about us?" form to one without?

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It's not only the form completion that you can consider when deciding whether or not to include this particular field. With Google Analytics you can now accurately tell how they came to find your site. If you're putting a question on that they have to think about to answer you have no guarantee that the answer is actually correct. It's a meaningless field - how can you prove the people answering 'Recommended by a friend' were recommended by a friend? And if they were, so what? What actual use is this field anyway? Would you substantially change the site based on any of the answers? –  JonW Mar 15 '12 at 8:47
    
Also: see some of the responses from this question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/6133/… –  JonW Mar 15 '12 at 8:49
    
+1 @Jonw. blueberryfields, check out Analytics Campaigns - support.google.com/googleanalytics/bin/… –  msanford Mar 15 '12 at 14:18

2 Answers 2

This might be helpful. I'll remove it if it breaks the rules.

I once converted a long and gruelling sign up form and chopped it up into wizard-like steps and compared them A/B style. In both cases there was a "Where did you hear about us?" field (I failed to get stakeholders to allow me to drop it).

In both cases it was an optional step and I found that the field was completed way more often in the wizard version than in the long form.

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Honestly speaking from personal experience,the only time I would bother to answer the question is I was applying for a job and I felt that selecting "employee referral" (provided I was referred by an employee :) ) might get me an interview or atleast get my resume in front of a recruiter.

That said,every additional field that you require the user the fill up is preventing them from actually signing up and reducing your conversion rate.

This article actually found that reducing the number of fields from 11 to 4 increased the conversion rate by 64 %. The results summary of that

  • Number of forms submitted increased 140%
  • Conversion ratio increased 120%

Here is another blog which highlights the impact of shorter forms on increased conversion rates

That said,with regards to the question you had raised about the "How did you find about us field",this article gives some input about what happened to their form when they got rid of it. To summarize their results :

Many years ago we had a client who was having the debate about whether or not to include the ‘how did you hear about us?’ question on their form. To solve it once and for all, they included a wacky choice in the drop down— “billboard,” and although the client never ran a billboard ad, this ended up being the most selected choice. Question removed from form forever.

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