Having a keen understanding of web forms can help you create attractive, useful WordPress themes and web pages. When you include something that a client uses to input information, it’s guaranteed that it’s something which attracts notice. It needs to work smoothly, integrate into the page, but still draw the attention of the person using the website. Knowing more about creating excellent web forms that help improve the functionality of your WordPress themes and pages will take your work up a notch.
Web Form Basics
Web forms are, in essence, just a place for a site user to input information that is transmitted to the site owner. A WordPress form plugin can add instant utility to a site that doesn’t have a way to interact with viewers. Whether it’s signing up for a mailing list, committing to attending an event, or scheduling an appointment, a web form at its most basic is a way for a person to give basic information about themselves to the site’s owners.
Like most plugins, a web form plugin might be a good option for most themes. That way, a person buying your theme can decide whether they want it included. A hard-coded web form is probably less appealing to the mass market if you’re selling your themes.
Include the Right Fields
When you’re ready to add a web form, think about what you’re hoping to get from it. Forms that are too long may stop people from giving you any information at all. You want to have it short enough that many people are willing to give you their information, but long enough to get the information you need. There are ways to design forms where clients can input their own information in the fields – and that might be the best way to include the right fields. Still, you should at least include some basic options that are commonly used like name, email address, and the state the person lives in.
One of the most important parts of a web form is that it attracts customer attention. WordPress forms need to stand out from the rest of the page without having a jarring look that detracts from the attractiveness of the page. While the thing most likely to attract attention is movement, that isn’t very logical to use on a web form. Instead, consider placing it near large images. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, users focus on large images first and for a longer time.
When you’re designing sites for businesses, there are a lot of things to consider. Try to anticipate what a business would want or need before you start adding web forms to your themes. The first thing that many businesses want to maintain is professionalism. This means the form should be formatted and presented properly. Next, you should consider how it fits into the themes you design. For example, a business would need a space in the theme where the web form could appear – but also something in that space if they opt not to include it.
Offering options to businesses will help you sell more themes. That’s one of the most important things to consider when you’re creating themes to work with web forms.
Selling WordPress form themes is about making your theme as useful as possible to the greatest number of people. Not all businesses will need to collect a person’s zip code, but some will consider it essential information. Including a web form with variable numbers and types of information will help you sell your theme to a larger audience.
Another way to make a web form adaptable is to allow the colors, fonts, and other design elements to be easily changed by a person who owns your theme. Many people who purchase themes want something easy to work with – they’re looking for drag-and-drop or menu style changes that are quick and easy. Some aren’t very tech savvy. That’s something to consider if you’re designing for a wide audience.
Of course, if you’re designing for a single client and not working for mass appeal, adaptability is less important. Still, a client might find in the future that they want to change something – and it would be easier for them to add a new section to a landing page without having to contact an expert.
According to a research team led by Mirjam Secker, a site user is almost two times as likely to actually submit a web form when they don’t encounter an error on the first try. People are just less likely to come back for a second attempt if the first fails. Functionality and design are major considerations for how successful your web form is. Consider these tips:
- A single column layout is more attractive and easy to use than one with multiple columns.
- Put things in the right order. Don’t ask for an email address before a person’s name.
- Explain anything specific like password requirements. When there’s an error because someone doesn’t know how to format their information, they are less likely to come back and redo the form.
- Consider using radio buttons instead of drop-down menus on fields that don’t have many inputs.
- Reset buttons should be included only if absolutely necessary. People hit them on accident and then are unwilling to return to the form.
- Be specific with error messages. If it’s something the user can fix, letting them know will help them do so.
Designing web forms for WordPress themes is all about providing utility and functionality. As a web designer, understanding web forms and how they’re used will help you provide more of both to your clients. Once you’ve developed one and decided on several options where it could appear, inserting it into your theme as a WordPress plugin will make it easier for clients to customize in the future.