We've recently been working on a number of user experience design engagements focused on lead capture and registration forms. As we've been sitting down with users to review live sites and prototypes, we've seen our consistent recommendations for improving conversion reinforced.
Is the messaging right? Before users even get to the form, they need to understand what you are offering. The content and images on the landing page must be clear.
Do you need to educate users first? If you have a big brand or sell a commodity product (like auto insurance) you need to do less education of the consumer before pushing them to form. In some cases, you may need to let users learn more about your product or try before they buy.
Show progress. Always let the users know how many steps are left – and keep it to 3 steps if possible.
Reveal additional fields. It's best to not overwhelm users with big forms. We recommend revealing steps as information is collected.
Provide motivation – you need to ask your users. Don't guess at what would motivate your users, ask them. Find out what they really want to receive or know. We find that data or information can be a powerful motivator – if it is personalized.