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Creating a Simple Order Form

Success! You have gotten your website’s customers all the way to that final stage of your sale: the order form. Ah, but this is a serious and precarious moment indeed. Will that order form be as good at selling your product as the rest of your site has been? Let’s make sure.

A big giant box cluttered with words and numbers and prices and boxes with checkmarks or little circles with black dots in them and rows and rows and rows of choices can be harrowing for someone just trying to order a bathrobe for her Auntie Liz. You have to be careful to make the order form as friendly and welcoming as a lady at the checkout counter, because that is essentially what your order form is, only in cyber form.

ü It is all about simplicity. What are the choices? Size, color, and quantity are the most common choices for many products. For these choices, showing the options in a dropdown menu is easiest to understand, instead of having a different row for each size and color.

ü For quantity, a simple box where the customer can type in the exact number they want can be quite handy. That is a case where a dropdown menu may be too much of a hassle.

ü Have prices clearly marked.

ü If there is something that pertains to all items, such as “free shipping” or “tax in the State of Iowa,” you needn’t put it next to every item; just announce it at the top of the form. Otherwise you are just being redundant.

ü Now, what about all those numbers that are busying up your form. Are they really necessary? Does your customer need to know that the charcoal gray wool sweater they are buying is also known as item # 5768402? No, that number isn’t really important to them, it is important to you. They only need to see what they are buying, not the code that goes with it. When you create your order form, you can embed that code in the html so that the customer need not be muddled by it. It will make your order from much less messy and much easier to use. The easier it is to order from you, the more people will order!

Instead Of This


Inventory Code




Irish Wool Cardigan









Irish Wool Cardigan









Irish Wool Cardigan









Try This


Irish Wool Cardigan





Remember: Simpler Is Better!

ü The less information you ask your customers for, the better. If you can get away with asking for their name, address, and credit card number, do it! Customers don’t like giving out all sorts of information, and it slows down the order process anyways. Do you really need to know their mother’s maiden name to be able to send them that eggbeater?

ü If you truly do need to have a longer order form, break it up into steps where you ask only a few questions at a time. But be clear and label each step, so your customer knows they are making progress on Step 3 of 5, or they might get annoyed.

ü If you must ask for something that customers might be wary of giving out, such as their phone number, be clear as to why you need it. For example:

Phone numbers are used only to contact you about problems with your order.

ü If you decide to have optional fields, make sure your customer knows they are optional by clearly marking them as such, either in a different color or with a star. For example:

* PET’S NAME: * indicates optional

ü Don’t make the requirements too specific! For example, there are many ways people type out their phone numbers, such as 222-555-9999 OR (222) 555-9999 OR 2225559999. If possible, make your form accept all of these formats. If you do need to require a specific format, clearly explain which one, so a customer doesn’t have to fill out the whole form and then receiver an “ERROR” notice and have to go back through.

ü Make sure the confirmation page, the page your customer sees after they finish the order, explains the next step. It typically says that they should receive a receipt by email in the next few minutes, and it tells them they will receive their item in x number of business days, that sort of thing.

ü Pay attention to detail! Make sure your boxes line up and there are no typos. Nobody wants to order from a sloppy company.

ü And finally, make sure it WORKS! Don’t blindly trust your IT guy on this one. Periodically go through it yourself to see that the process is functional and the confirmation page is working.

A good order form helps your customers enjoy an easy transaction and makes your end of the business run smoothly.

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