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So we all know how much users dislike completing forms... even when it's to get to something they see value in. We're told that, in a general sense, the shorter the form, the better the chance of getting submissions. Name, email/phone, and the message seems to be a common go-to for forms where all you want to do is get some contact info so your sales guy can call and work his magic from there.

I'm building a landing page for a catering company. It will be used for a holiday party focused PPC ad campaign. Their objective is pretty much what I described above... they're looking for any and all leads for people looking to have a party catered to let their sales team loose on.

Even though just collecting a name and phone number will meet this objective, I feel that it seems a little bland and doesn't communicate any sense of competence on the part of the catering company. Or that if I fill out this form, I get no sense that the person who contacts me won't just treat me like one more face in the crowd. I feel like including some additional, optional questions to further qualify the potential lead gives the user a better sense that the person who contacts him or her knows something about them and their situation. These additional questions might include the timeframe for the party, number of guests, venue type. Despite being optional, including these definitely lengthens the form and becomes a barrier, but I submit that anyone throwing a party most likely knows the answers to those additional questions off the top of their head and would not be phased. I'm inclined to go so far as to say that "asking the right questions" creates a better perception of the catering company than the one using the more generic name/phone/email/message form and that this perception may be the factor that determines whether or not they fill out the form at all.

Does anyone agree with me or am I better off sticking to asking for the bare minimum if the core objective is a sheer number of submissions?

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There’s an “absolute” and a “relative” length of forms.

You are referring to the absolute length here - the number of form fields. As long as the fields are necessary and help the user in a significant way, there isn’t a form that’s too short.

The “relative” length of forms is subjective and based on what user perceives.

  • The shortest form (e.g. 2 fields) can seem very long if it’s difficult to fill in.
  • The longest form (e.g. 10 fields) can seem very short if it’s easy to fill in.

Thus, it’s not always about the number of fields.


With regards to whether you should add questions that ask for more context, I would say yes because it will help both parties. The salesperson would be able to engage with the client better if they knew some of the client's requirement. In turn, the client would also have a better experience with the company, regardless of whether the deal is made or not. This additional field could also help differentiate between clients who are genuinely interested and those who are not.

The next question you may ask is: What and how many questions to add? Consider the company’s strategy as well as the target audience’s characteristics. For example, I have seen 2 kinds of contact forms of design agencies: the standard form with name/contact/email/about the project (usually premium agencies), and another more elaborate form with budget, deadline etc (usually budget agencies). I’m sure that they had their own reasons for that.


“Even though just collecting a name and phone number will meet this objective, I feel that it seems a little bland and doesn't communicate any sense of competence on the part of the catering company. Or that if I fill out this form, I get no sense that the person who contacts me won't just treat me like one more face in the crowd.”

Beyond the number of fields, I feel that the importance of microcopy comes in here.

  • How are you intend to communicate the benefit of giving this information to users?
  • How can you add delight to the experience of filling in the form?
  • After submitting the form, what messages do the users see?

Don’t forget the landing page’s copywriting as well. All these contribute to your brand’s personality and perceived competence, as words make digital interfaces human.

An example of a mundane form turned into something less mundane and in line with the company's branding:

Ueno's microcopy

  • Nicely done @shank. I really like the ability to attach a file. I would add something asking if they prefer to be contacted via email or phone, and display whichever field matches their answer. Then make sure the "tell us about" field is optional :) – ph33nyx Sep 30 at 19:48
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How short or long a form is can be a little bit subjective (from both a user's perspective or the company's point of view), but the 'minimum' amount of information required for the purpose of the use of that information is a bit more objective.

That is, if you are strictly only collecting information that is required for what it is going to be used for (and you make it clear to the users), then it can't be 'too long'. If you are not collecting all the information that you require (because you are going to do it later), then there is a risk that the form can be too short if the user is not willing to supply this information later down the track.

The general rule of thumb is that if you can demonstrate the need to collect the information (or for the user to provide it), and you can show that there is a benefit for them, then I think you will generally have the optimal amount of content on the form.

  • In this case, I think the benefit for the user is that they are instilled with a feeling that the company asking about their party is actually interested in getting some "real" info about it... rather than what could be perceived as being lazy and just asking for their name and phone number. The additional info will definitely be useful to the sales rep following up - they will use it to prioritize these incoming leads. However, every lead produced by this form will be pursued regardless, so the extra info is in no way required. I'm torn. – Daveh0 Oct 18 '18 at 11:58
  • currently A/B testing with and without additional fields... stay tuned for results – Daveh0 Oct 31 '18 at 20:41
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Your objective is to have as many users completing the form as possible. It should be no longer than necessary.

I would put it to you that the reasons for completing the form and the advantages of doing so by the user can be achieved by copy outside the form and thereafter the bare minimum of fields: contact details (email/tel) > reason for contacting (free text)

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