I'm working on a form users will fill out to start a free trial of our product. Unfortunately all of the fields I've included are required for us to put them in our system properly.

free trial signup form

What I'm left with is a long form with a bunch of blank space on the page. What's the best way to fill it? Will more content on this page make it difficult for the user to move on or will it help make the form look less harrowing?

I considered adding a sort of 1, 2, 3 walkthrough of the steps they need to take to get up and running with our product, for example:

  1. Fill out the registration form
  2. Go through onboarding wizard
  3. Get started!

Would this make the form seem like a quick step toward their goal, or will it make the process feel longer?

  • 2
    Why do you need all that information? Making it required won't make people fill it in. They will simply enter junk to get past the form as quickly as possible.
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 15:11
  • The necessity of collecting both a physical address and a phone number is questionable and will possibly turn off new users from signing up
    – user28761
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 11:14
  • I've been fighting back on required info, but this is what I have to work with for the time being. Different info is required for our sales team and for our system to properly set them up and together it ends up being a lot. The product itself is pretty complex though and not for 'end users'. We sell it to resellers, so the info we're collecting is from companies, not individuals, so there is more incentive to actually fill everything out properly if they decide they want to use the product after their trial Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 18:02

4 Answers 4


At thumbtack, we did several A/B tests of this exact thing and found that putting anything in the right sidebar lowered conversion.

It didn't matter what it was: pretty pictures, walk-through, list of benefits, etc.

It appears that when people are filling out a form, they want to just fill out the form and not be distracted.

  • 2
    I would agree that just because you have space doesn't mean something has to be there. If anything, just center the form and leave the white space so the user focuses only on the task at hand. Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 19:25

If you have problem with the white space on the side, I suggest a few alternatives for that:

  • Divide the form into a two column layout, shorter fuller page.
  • Center the page so you do not have too much space on one side.

Other than that, good job with grouping the content together. It helps in reducing the cognitive load of reading an endless form, and also helps if you want to divide the form into a step-by-step wizard format.

The onboarding screen idea is good but I doubt you want it to be visible right beneath/on-the-side of the wizard. It is adding too many things on the same screen. The user is seeing a form they need to fill out and the an entire path/journey map/demo of what they are getting into. You can add that step after the user has submitted the form.

  • I did consider breaking it into two columns, but most of what I've read about forms says it should all be in one column. I think I agree about not putting anything else on the page and just trying to make this fill what space it can through centering and maybe making the form wider. Cheers Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 14:02
  • Well, since you are on the right track here, I would like to ask you what is the need of filling up the page? ;) There is no harm in keeping the page minimalist. If you don't want white-space, then you can use a subtle color/pattern to make the page seem fuller. subtlepatterns.com
    – rk.
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 14:07

On top of what is mentioned above about centering the page, you might want to exclude information that isn't absolutely necessary.

For example here, I wouldn't make them verify the password twice because you've already made them verify their email. Therefore if they forget their password, they can request another one via email at that point.

As far as the Captcha and it's position, I would create that in a separate pop-up box. After they hit "Start Trial" and then you can even play with it by having the pop-up box say something like "Just to make sure your a human, etc..."

It will help clean the page up on top of making it feel more dynamic.


As an alternative, you can put into your right column the dynamic popup hints about the field currently being filled (in a way similar to Google Instant Preview on its search page).

For example, when editing the Name field you may add an explanation of how this should be treated for non-US users. With Email it would be good to show a pledge not to use it for spam purposes, not to share with 3rd parties, and generally describe how you are going to use it. The "Confirm Email" field is very important – maybe say "matched" when the user finished typing?

Similarly you want to explain what to put in "State" and "Zip" for non-US based companies. Ideally you would base your feedback on the company's country selected.

Finally, it's good to have instant feedback about the chosen username being available or not; and also specify upfront whatever security requirements you impose on the password (my favorite is: our server shouldn't be able to brute-force guess it in less than a minute).

Oh, and if you DO allow international companies, bear in mind that it is virtually impossible for a non-English speaking person to solve the reCaptcha (the form itself can be translated with Google Translate however).

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