Web Forms Short vs Long

Web Forms – Short vs Long

So, you want a site with longer web forms, but can they work, and what type of conversion can you expect?

An interesting question, well it is for us. Yeah, we do need to get out more. It’s also valid one for anyone who wants to incorporate a web form as a contact method on their site. Go on, admitted, that got your attention, didn’t it?

The thinking behind it is that capturing more information would surely help increase conversion rate, but is this the really the case? This article looks at what is best practice, how a buyer may see the form, and what a designer should do to accommodate this.

In the past, conventional wisdom states a longer web form could damage a site’s conversion rate. You could put off potential customers who feel the additional time of filling in additional form fields is just too much effort and would rather search out a competitor. This is what traditional thinking states.

If we look at the Expedia as a case study, they shortened their web form by one input field and managed to gain an extra $12 million in profit. Does this mean forms should be as short as possible if you can benefit from increased profits? Surely this logic makes sense if it has worked for Expedia?

In this is the case, traditional thinking is right and wrong. Yes a shorter web form certainly does increase conversions, but it’s the exact type of conversion that you should care about. With a longer form you will get conversions of another kind, perhaps conversions that are more specific, and more tailored to the product/service you provide.

High ­Quality Leads: Do You Need Longer Forms?

We’re firm believers in in quality over quantity. If you’re looking to capture higher quality leads, according to HubSpot you should consider more in depth fields to gain a better understanding of what your potential customer is after. A shorter form may produce a higher conversion, but a longer form produces a higher quality of conversions that are more beneficial. What does that mean? Less time messing around, and more time making money.

Of course if you just want lots of people to contact you, shorter forms are the way to go, as they require the least amount of effort, but how much of that is beneficial to you and your company? It’s that simple.

What are Longer and Shorter Web Forms?

So what defines a longer, and a shorter web form? It’s something that we should clear up.

As a designer you should think about what’s necessary for a company to know from a web form. What are they trying to gain from it, and what information can they use to better aid their sales. HubSpot says that only three fields are necessary: name,­ email address and­ job title.

If this is everything you need, then this should be what we call a short web form, and anything that requires more than these three input fields would be considered a longer web form.

In contrast, the Marketing Experiments Study that compares best­ performing forms based on the number of input fields, says that five fields is the definition of a shorter web form. If you compare five to seven fields, or nine field forms, the shorter form beats the longer form by a 3.4% conversion rate.

Of course, remember that the longer form of nine fields will have the higher­ quality. This refers to the richness of the information that the company receives, as you naturally get more specific details with more form fields.

What do Buyers Want?

Web forms are here to help your customers. If they aren’t being utilised or aren’t helpful, is there any point in having them on your website? Designers should consider this in the concepting stage of the site and should adhere to what is helpful.

There are loads of examples of effective ways to engage with potential users. Some are simple input fields that are easy to fill in, others are more creative that allow users to have fun whilst they fill in a web form. In the industry, these type of form are called ‘Mad Libs’ forms, because people are encouraged to engage by filling in the blanks.

Forms like these use natural sentence structures and ask for buyer info in fields that are naturally sprinkled throughout the sentences. This makes it seem less invasive when people are inputting their personal info.

A famous study done by Yahoo’s chief design architect, Luke Wroblewski, concluded how natural language forms raised conversions on forms by 25% to 40%.

As a designer you would be foolish to ignore this quirky form style and shouldn’t be afraid to stray from the traditional form style now and again. We are currently using a ‘Mad Lib’ web form style on a new project due to go live in the coming months, but in the meantime, why not see what web form we have opted for, or even fill it in. Go on, do it in the name of research.



Shorter web forms may have substantial evidence, proving they have more conversions, but these do not consider the quality of information captured. As outlined above, longer forms with more fields that increase the richness and quality you capture can help a user.

As a designer the question I have to ask is, how do I best present this to a user in a digestible and easy to engage way? Our form ‘start a project’ takes the user on a clear journey and identifies clear areas that they may wish us to know from the outset, so we can communicate back to them with a more detailed, and useful, answer.

If you want to know more about web forms, or ask for our help, then contact us at studio@it­starts.com