Here’s an odd phrase: President Donald Trump is running an online poll. Unpopular has no intention of getting political, but there’s something important to learn for all of our online forms, polls, contact forms, booking forms, and contracts today.

Trump’s asking terrible questions, and I don’t think he’s the only one. Most of us are guilty of doing the same.

Almost all of the questions are posed with a yes/no response. Yes or no is a poor response to almost any question. Questions you’re asking in your online forms, or even on social media, need to elicit more than a yes or a no. You want your forms to create a sense of wonder and action. That as the inquirer is filling out the form they feel like they are actually doing something that matters. Luckily for all of us: our forms do matter. They’re often the first step in getting an Unpopular business into the lives of someone they have worked so hard to attract the attention of.

Here’s a good example of some bad questions with the question Trump’s website asks, and the question I think it should ask:

They asked:

Do you trust the mainstream media to tell the truth about the Republican Party’s positions and actions?

  • Yes
  • No
  • No opinion
  • Other, please specify

I would say, then ask:

We have doubts that the mainstream media tells the truth about us. Do you trust the media to tell the truth about the Republican Party’s positions and actions?

☑️ I do trust the media to tell the truth on this matter

Moving from a radio selector group (you must choose on option from many) to single tick/check box.

They ask:

Do you believe that the mainstream media does not do their due diligence fact-checking before publishing stories on the Trump administration?

  • Yes
  • No
  • No opinion
  • Other, please specify

A quick aside, “Do you believe” and then “the media does not do their due diligence” is a real double-negative way to word a question. But the author of the poll has already demonstrated they’ve got terrible question asking skills, thus the existence of this blog post.

I would ask:

We believe that the media has a responsibility to do their due diligence fact-checking any story they broadcast or publish, inclusive of stories about the White House, the government, and the President.

Name a story you believe the media has not fact-checked about President Donald Trump, diligently:

How does this apply to your business?

The really quick application to your business is to examine what questions you’re asking on your website, particularly, in your contact form.

Is your contact form easy to understand, written for “normals” to understand, without industry jargon and confusing words or questions.

Is it asking the correct questions to help you help the inquirer, and is it asking too many questions, making so much of the filling out redundant. And if you’re asking seemingly-redundant questions, do you explain the line of questioning so the person filling the form out feels at ease with the process.

In a few of the examples you’ll see below, some also bring spam-protection into their forms, further complicating the communication process whilst erecting barriers to a sale. I’d rather get 1000 spam messages and one sale, then to turn someone away. Anyhow, we have the technology today to not need anti-spam checks on your contact forms.

Examples of not awesome contact forms with poor questions

These anonymous examples of contact forms have no soul, they seemingly have no purpose, are asking the inquirer to prove they’re not a robot (as if that many robots are trying to inquire). They inspire nothing in us.

Examples of awesome contact forms

Dilhari‘s using a WordPress website with a 17Hats embedded contact form for this page – a side note on her website as well, the contact page is in a different, but on-brand, font in the main menu. I like it.

I’ve got to show you mine, so I’ll get it out of the way right here right now. And I’ll answer some common questions:

  • I ask for a couple name because that plays into my automations better than “Your name”, and “Fiancé’s name”.
  • The pirates and ninjas question is placed right at the top as a filter and a conversation starter. Straight away the form doesn’t feel like all the other forms the couple have been filling out. And everyone has an opinion on the important issue.
  • The ice cream thing is purely for judgement. Four years on and I still can’t believe I married a mint-choc-chip girl.

Morgan‘s contact form throws you out to a separate page ran by hipster form company, Typeform. Typeform makes very focused, friendly, and non-form like forms.

Brendan’s website is another one of my designs, and like my website it’s a WordPress website running Gravity Forms. Brendan loves coffee, so we ask a coffee question. It’s not too zany, but still friendly.

The Elopement Collective is one of my designs, and one of our brands, the thing to spot here is that there is no submit button, as the contents of the form changes depending on which radio selector is chose.

James’ new website is barely launched yet, in fact barely anyone knows about it and it’s still not mobile responsive, but I had to share his contact form. It reads like the inquirer is writing a letter and I love it.

What to do?

From here there’s four things I’d implore you to do:

  1. Remove redundant questions from any of your online forms. If the form field has no purpose, delete it. If you can’t delete it, get better form software – start with Gravity Forms or Typeform, or it’s possible your CRM has it’s own form like 17Hats does.
  2. Add questions that improve the customer journey. Whether the question serves you, or it serves for a personality purpose, sparingly add questions that make the whole process better.
  3. Change yes/no answers to wording that’s easier understood and easier to answer.
  4. Rinse and repeat often. If you think you’ve finished, you’re probably not.

Image Credits: Frank McKenna.