Why You’re Not Converting: The Oft-Neglected Sign-Up Form

Posted / 21 November, 2014

Author / Enginess

converting sign up forms

You’ve got great content, you publish all the time, you’ve got solid click-through and time-on-site stats, and yet, no conversions. The problem might be your sign-up form.

You’ve got great content, you publish all the time, you’ve got solid click-through and time-on-site stats, and yet, no conversions. The problem might be your sign-up form. If you own a lead generation website, your sign up form is your bread and butter. It's how you know who to pursue as leads, how you open the door to tell potential customers how you can help them, and can lead to valuable insights for your sales team. If your business relies on website leads, then your sign up form is as important as the checkout flow on Amazon.com Unfortunately, it is also one of the most neglected parts of a website.  

Why it's un-designed

It’s no accident that sign up forms are often neglected. First, there's the problem of simplicity – it's so simple, how could it go wrong? Second, sign up forms usually integrate with a third party, like a CRM system, and their design (or lack thereof) is in part a result of that integration. And finally, with something so simple and so entrenched in a user’s internet experience, every single detail counts. Details like:
  • Length and number of fields
  • Button design
  • Error correction
  • Spacing, font, and other visual features
  • How to tell which fields are required and which are optional
  • Mobile display
These are all roadblocks to what a user is trying to do, so they need to be as easy as possible.  Consider as well that you're asking the user for something so it should be as easy for them to help you out. Fortunately, even if your sign up form was un-designed and is causing a wrinkle in an otherwise beautiful site, they’re generally pretty easy to sort out.  

How to fix it

First, set up accurate tracking on your site and your sign up flow. If your sign up form needs people to scroll, some usability testing can see how far people are getting into it. Google Analytics has a ton of options for tracking as well, especially if your sign-up form requires multiple screens. (GA bonus: you can see where people are coming from so you can really drill into what works/what doesn’t in your content). Now that you can track it properly, you can start tinkering with the design elements of the sign up form.


How long does it really have to be? Unfortunately, there's no hard and fast number. For example, if your customers are generally really engaged, then you have a little more leeway – conversely, if they’ve just come to your site for the first time, you have to grab ‘em fast. Think about every single field you’ re asking your users to fill out. Do you really, really need that info? At the end of the day, you might be better off asking for less and getting more people all the way through than the other way around. Remember: you can always ask for more info later on.  

Buttons, spacing and fonts

Your sign-up form has to fit the rest of your site and be crystal clear about what’s going on. Copy can help with this as well, but really nice, big, easy-to-understand design decisions do wonders for putting users at ease as you ask them for info. For example, make it clear when a button (e.g. a confirmation button) has been pressed – it will let your users know they're in control. You can design out problems as well by making it clear what's required and what isn't, thereby reducing error and drop off.  

Error Correction

Users make mistakes. They need to understand what when wrong and how to fix it. A highlighted error field is good way to do this, but there are other simple ways too.  


If your users are coming to your site on mobile devices, you want your sign up form to look great and be super easy to fill out on a small screen. Part of this is paring down the form to the bare essentials – no one likes typing in lots of info with a touch keyboard. Also, make sure your form displays well even when the keyboard is pulled up – people like to see what they're typing.   The sign up form can be a huge hole in your sales funnel, but it’s one that's easily patched with a few quick fixes. Just remember that, like anything with marketing and design, test, test, test! See if your conversions change dramatically when you eliminate a field or two – you might decide that it's worth it. Otherwise, happy signing!

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