12 Form Design Best Practices for App Developers


No one enjoys filling out forms. The process feels robotic and can be naturally tedious and monotonous. Filling out a form is mildly bothersome at best and potentially maddening at worst. Without effective form design best practices, a lot can go wrong in the form-filling process.

Although filling out a form isn’t exciting for the customer, it’s a necessary evil. Whether a customer is purchasing your product or signing up for a newsletter, you are required to collect their information. This is done with the help of forms and mobile forms apps.

For the customer, the process of filling out a form should be as seamless as possible. It shouldn’t disrupt the user’s experience. The following are twelve form design best practices for app developers:

Best Practice #1: Keep the form design short and simple

The best practice for form design is to ask for as little information as possible. Collect relevant information only and discard the unnecessary fields. Instead of duplicating the password entry field, allow the user to see the password they’re creating.

Further, don’t ask for most of the information in one step. This approach is excellent because it keeps the user engaged throughout the process, making them more likely to complete it.

Best Practice #2: Have restrictions for form entry fields

Some fields may require text, alphanumeric, or numeric data entry. One of the first form design best practices you should implement is to limit your users from inputting the wrong data by restricting entry fields.

Enforcing these restrictions ensures the user keys in the correct data. It’s essential because it reduces errors. Minimum and maximum lengths are also helpful restrictions.

Best Practice #3: Use auto-detect in the forms

This form design best practice saves users a significant amount of time. It also spares them a lot of frustration. Some of the fields that can make use of the auto-detect feature include the country, name and email.

Auto-detecting such fields reduces the information the user has to provide by 60%. You should, however, incorporate security measures to keep a user’s data safe.

Best Practice #4: Make errors clear in the forms

No matter how good your form design might be, errors are bound to occur. When they do, make sure the user knows what went wrong. It’s frustrating to a user if he/she is unsure of precisely what they need to correct.

Making errors clear helps a user pinpoint an issue and fix it. Instead of using vague phrases that will leave the user confused, show clearly what and where the error is to solve it efficiently.

Best Practice #5 Indicate optional fields in forms

Most users prefer to do the bare minimum. People are busy, after all. In some cases, the user may want to share as little information as possible.

Generally, the user shouldn’t be required to fill in all the fields; some should be optional. Clearly indicating optional fields makes it easy for the user to know which information is needed for the form to go through.

Best Practice #6: Use a predictive search service

This might not apply to all forms. It’s used where the user is required to input data in a field with many predefined options, such as country names. They just enter a few letters to locate the data they are trying to enter. Using predictive search whenever possible reduces spelling errors and gives users a seamless experience.

Best Practice #7: Divide the form into sections

The human brain naturally prefers simpler processes to complex ones. Breaking down a form into small sections tricks the brain into thinking that it’s doing less.

If you are dealing with long forms that have many fields, dividing them into groups while adding section breaks encourages the user to answer all sections. Start with the easy sections first and progressively move to the more complicated ones.

Best Practice #8: Stick to one form column

It’s natural for the human eye to move from top to bottom. Placing multiple columns horizontally makes the process sluggish. This is because the user has to go back and forth, making a form appear too complex. Designing your form with a single column allows the user to fill it in quickly, giving an illusion of a small form.

Best Practice #9: Use an inspiring title

If a form has an inspiring title, it tends to have increased conversions and completions. Language influences psychology in a significant way.

A great title convinces the user to fill out the form. It also lets them know what they will get after submission. For instance, a “sign up & get a discount” title is more attention-grabbing than one that says “sign up.”

Best Practice #10: Make specific CTAs

Even though this form design best practice is sometimes overlooked, CTAs (calls-to-action) are critical elements of a form. Make it clear to the user precisely what happens after they enter the necessary information.

For example, using “Get my discount code” is clearer to the user than a CTA that says “submit,” which is vague.

Best Practice #11: Keep the sections aligned

Alignment is one of the form design best practices that can make your form visually appealing. Arranging it in an optimized way can make a design scalable and efficient.

There are several settings and arrangements to choose from. The key is to maintain uniformity. Arrangement without alignment looks messy. Keeping label texts close to the entry field creates a better user experience.

Best Practice #12: Make your form design fun

Instead of regular placeholders, add funny text. Adding some fun to the form encourages the user to fill it out. Strike a balance between the seriousness of the information you intend to collect and keeping it fun. This keeps the form engaging.