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Looking for any data on placement of email opt in's & TOC's within user registration forms.

Common placement is prior to the form action:

Sony second form

I believe the main reasoning to be that interrupting the user flow during data entry leads to reduced form conversion.

That said, is there an argument for giving the opt-in more context by changing to placement to have relationship with the email entry fields rather than at the bottom of the form?

  • Just making a guess, generally when forms are long and people have already filled in the data, it might be easier to persuade them to click one last element before they can finally take that action they've invested time for. Plus, giving TOC at the start feels less welcoming for the end user. When I come to the page, it asks me my name and email and then notifies me of their TOC, this feels more welcoming than asking one to abide by TOC before the interaction even begins. – Sol Feb 17 '15 at 18:18
  • You'd think it would be the other way around though. "Listen, before we go through all this, are you cool with these conditions?" – Tim FitzGerald Feb 17 '15 at 18:42
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    My intuition is that this is an adaptation of paper legal documents. In the US and Canada (I can't speak for other legal traditions) when you fill out a form (e.g. Bank loan application, customs declaration form) there will be a little legal statement ("I agree to the conditions of this loan", "I swear or affirm that this declaration is accurate") next to where you sign. The act of signing commits you to the statement, so it's normal to see the submit button as analogous. Since so many of these UI patterns originated in America, it follows that it would become the standard. – Tim FitzGerald Feb 17 '15 at 18:48
  • @TimFitzGerald - very interesting theory, which I'm likely to believe given that we have a lot of holdovers that are like that as we've moved digital. – Jason Feb 17 '15 at 19:12
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There are a few questions embedded in here:

Why are opt-ins and T&C's not placed inline with form fields?

Because it interrupts user flow, which can result in abandonment. Forms are already cognitively "complicated" to users....they have to navigate from field to field, think of an answer and input it. So a lot of effort goes into making forms "flow" for users, e.g. if the user is filling in contact information, they understand that entering email address then entering a postal address are part of the overall task of entering contact information.

When you interrupt that flow by forcing the user to think about opting into a list between fields, you are forcing them to context-switch, which is a poor idea. You want users to stay in flow because once interrupted, they may just decide to abandon the form altogether.

Why are opt-ins and T&C's placed above the submit button?

First of all, this is not always the case. Sometimes they appear below. But, for the majority of cases they appear above because:

  1. They are form elements, so it's awkward to have a form submit (which usually results in panel dismissal or a page jump) halfway through a form. Users will fill the form, hit submit, and may feel like the form got hijacked before they finished reading top-to-bottom.

  2. Placing the submit button below T&C's and opt-ins has UX value in terms of providing tacit agreement to those terms. While this would not hold up in a court, it still makes sense visually and behaviorally. You want users to agree to your T&C's (or to opt-in) so good design will give the "submit" button the affordance of "I agree to this form". So placing it below the T&C's and opt-ins allows you to take advantage of that affordance.

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  • How about putting them before the form fields? It wouldn't interrupt the flow and, in some cases, prevent a waste of user time should he disagree with the terms and conditions. It's also in one of the examples the OP included in the screenshots. (I'm not advocating for this, just bringing it up.) – Tim FitzGerald Feb 18 '15 at 0:01
  • @TimFitzGerald that could certainly work...the threshold question to me would be whether it aids the intent of the form. For example, if the intent is for users to provide contact info and you only need it for opt-in purposes, then placing the TOC/Opt-in up top may make sense because it conforms to form intent and is a good way of leading-off behavioral flow. – tohster Feb 18 '15 at 0:10

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