You’ve made your pitch. The user has clicked through and is on the cusp of signing up for a free trial. And then…nothing.

Nothing is more frustrating than building a carefully crafted conversion path for your product and having a quarter or more of the people who start to signup give up and leave.

Worse, these forms are often incredibly simple. Most have only a handful of fields (as few as three), and very clear instructions. What exactly are you designing on such a minimalist page, and why is that very simple design not working?

Let’s take a closer look at the best practices behind the top performing signup flows and how to overhaul and improve yours to capture and keep more contacts.

Below are seven factors you should keep in mind when setting up and optimizing your flow for new signups.

Fewer Fields Means More Conversions

This one’s simple. The more fields you have, the fewer people will convert on that form. In fact, in an Unbounce study that reduced a contact form from 11-fields to 4-fields, conversions jumped 160% with no changes in submission quality.

The whole idea behind long forms is that you get more information to better qualify leads. If they really want what you’re offering, they’ll fill it out, right? Maybe, but they’re also much more likely to lie on the form.

If you have a long signup form, start by removing anything that’s not required. A recent study showed that people don’t notice these marks most of the time, and tend to fill out every form, whether required or not. So, cut out the chaff.

Why Should They Care?

Sell the signup.

You’re asking for someone’s email address, which in the age of spam and constant connectivity is a big ask. Heck, most people bounce from a form because they’re afraid of being spammed, so you need to give them something with greater perceived value than the privacy of their email address. And you do this by clearly illustrating the benefits of signing up. Keep it short, provide a clear value proposition, and always mention your privacy policy and spam policy to alleviate concerns.

Using Social Proof

Keep selling!

Social proof is the backbone of a good sales pitch. 

Tell prospective signups about who has already signed up and make them want to be part of what you’re doing.

Describe the Next Step

What happens when they sign up?

People fear the unknown. “Signup for our newsletter” doesn’t tell them anything. Just that at some point in the vague future, they might receive a newsletter from you.

On the flip side, you can make it very clear what they’ll be doing next by sharing clear next steps.

Mobile-Ready Forms

Upwards of 40% of all web traffic is on a mobile device. Higher in some industries.

So, your forms, wherever they live, should cater to that. Plus, studies have shown that a single column design works best.

Fortunately, if you’re keeping your forms short, cleanly designed and free of extraneous instructions they’re already 90% of the way there.

Communicating Errors

Ever fill out a form and have it kick an error message…but not tell you which field is wrong?

Make sure it’s extremely clear what you need people to do when they signup. This is especially important for passwords, which often aren’t clearly defined in advance of the signup.

At the same time, make sure your form is flexible – let people enter phone numbers or dates however best works for them (within reason), and if you have specific instructions, communicate them clearly.


It’s pretty much standard practice for a signup form to ask for the password twice – once in signup and a second time to verify.

More fields means more opportunities for people to fall off. If you really want to avoid people entering the wrong password, offer a “show password” option when they signup instead.

This gives much greater flexibility, and even allows you to include an additional name, company or URL field instead.

Common No-Nos in Your Forms

Finally, let’s take a look at a handful of things you should aim to avoid in your forms:

  • CAPTCHA – Sure, it might cut down on some false submissions and spam, but CAPTCHA also lead to as many as 30% of submissions failing due to incorrect entry of the validation and a recent study showed more than a 3% drop in conversions when they are used. There are several alternatives including double opt-in, honeypot fields, and more.
  • Drop Down Lists – Drop down lists, especially with a lot of options, stink. No one likes them and they are hard to use. Consider using auto-populating form fields instead.
  • Clear Fields – If your form is long enough that it might need a clear fields option, it’s too long. And the risk of someone accidentally clicking this is high.
  • Form Field Width – If maintaining a single column design, make sure all fields and submit buttons match in width for a clean, easy to follow layout.

Building the Perfect Signup Flow for Your Product

A better signup flow can have a massive impact on the success of your product. Reducing friction, improving usability, and clearly communicating to the prospect why they should be interested in what you have to offer will help capture more information from the right people. Which is exactly what you want.