February 16th, 2019
5 Steps to Increase Website Conversions with Contact Form

In an earlier blog post, we talked about how to identify your brand personality . A very simple but effective route to identify your brand with 7 descriptive words. In this session, we take that baseline and put it in practice. Your brand personality should strongly influence and be consistent on your entire website.

One of the most important elements that rarely receives the sufficient level of design love is the Contact Form. You are probably thinking, its just a form, what more is there? Just list out a few questions, get their email address and make sure there is a submit button, right? That is just the start.

A polished, succinct message to ‘contact me’ is saying 'trust me, I got this' and establishes confidence in your products and services. Consistency is key in establishing trust with your potential customers. Poor design can make them start to second guess their decision to contact you and ultimately bounce them to your competitors website.

So what is good design around a Contact Form? When I work with clients, we discuss these 5 major pillars...

  1. A clear understanding of what you want the form to accomplish
  2. An eye-catching and descriptive title
  3. Introduction paragraph, including the benefits you will provide
  4. A critical few questions to get you the needed information
  5. Your call-to-action button to submit the data

Step 1 - Your Objective

To start, grab a pen and paper and jot down your thoughts on “what do I want my visitor to do” or “what is the call to action”? In most cases, it’s new sales leads but also could be other items like providing customer service. This is your guiding star. Don’t overthink it. Just go with what pops into your head.

Step 2 - Your Title

Depending on your brand personality traits, the verbiage of your “title” could vary quite a bit. For example, a “outspoken” vs. “reserved" title might look something like the following examples.



These small details come together to establish consistency and ultimately build trust.

Step 3 - Intro/Benefits

After your title is established, take a pass at a 1-2 sentence note. This is your chance to show who you are and depending on the type of questions, why you need this information.

To start, let's switch places with you and your potential customer. Ask yourself...what pain-points could they be encountering? How does your product or service solve these problems?

For example on my site, most visitors are small businesses or organizations with no graphic design or IT department. With an overwhelming number of options, they need someone to help them get started. With my brand leaning more on the casual-side, I roll with…

Step 4 - Critical Questions

Now we get to jump into the deep-end with the questions. Keeping it simple is the hardest challenge. It’s very easy to overload your form.

How many times have you wanted to contact someone but never did because you stumbled upon an overwhelming number of questions that took too long to answer? It happens way too often and is a huge blocker to finding new customers or keeping your existing customer happy.

Studies* on the relationship between the optimal number of questions and the conversion rate, show there was a …

  • 25% conversion rate with only 3 fields
  • 20% conversion rate with 3-5 fields
  • 15% conversion rate with 6+ fields
* Quick Sprout

The lesson here is to keep it short and simple.

Step 5 - Call-to-Action Button

The final piece to the puzzle is that shiny button at the bottom of the form, also the called the submit button or call-to-action (CTA).

If there is one quick win you can employ in this entire post, it’s DO NOT use the word ’submit’ on your button.

“Forms using 'Submit' have an almost 3% decrease in conversion rate”
* Hubspot

Other terms such as ‘Click Here’ and ‘Go’ fared better in these studies. But it’s also important to remember which tone to use from your brand exercise. For example, on the question whether your brand is “playful” vs “assertive”, you could run with the following…



I hope you found these tips useful. Here’s a quick recap...and if you still need help with your site (or want to know the best coffee in California), please give me a shout.

  • Be clear on your objective. Know where you are going.
  • Grab them at “hello”...use your brand voice to get their attention. Make it clear...what’s in it for them
  • Less is more. You don’t want this to feel like they’re doing their taxes
  • Be yourself - even with your call-to-action button. Brand voice. Brand voice. Brand voice.

Additional sources


October 5th, 2018
How To Make Group Decisions Suck Less.

Does this sound familiar? You’re working in a group, frustrated with the lack of progress; there are too many opinions, no clear leader or decision-maker. Do you think it would be easier if you called all the shots? Probably. But for projects like building a company website, the solution tends to be better in a group because of the diverse perspectives and expertise. Group decisions are hard because everyone's got an opinion and egos, insecurities and personal conflicts can get in the way.

In my previous BLOG post, we dove into discovering your brand personality (one aspect of my discovery process). This time around let's discuss a challenge that's common in medium to larger projects... making the dreaded group decision. There are tons of tools out there. The model that I use is called the DACI (an acronym for Driver-Approver-Contributor-Informed). Don’t get me wrong, this method isn’t going to solve all your problems. You may not all be singing kumbaya around the campfire BUT it’s simple and effective in my experience for making decisions smoother and keeping the project on time.

At the beginning of our project, you will outline the role of every person on the team (see example below) to reduce confusion and stay on track and on time. From my experience, if there’s more than 2 people on a project, DACI is good insurance. It only takes 5-10 minutes to hash out...a smart bet considering no amount of re-work is ever limited 5 to 10 minutes. Never.

To help provide some color, here’s a simplified example with my Owl Peeps...

Let's review some detail on each role…

  • D = Driver = the person driving the ship (this is one person, no more).
  • A = Approver = the person whose head is on the chopping block if the project fails (ideally this is one person, in reality its 2-3 people).
  • C = Contributor = peeps doing the work, which could be from many, many different internal (e.g., engineer) or external (e.g., publisher) people.
  • I = Informed = folks not doing the work but are impacted by the progress and results.

I know you’re thinking, “I’ve been managing projects forever”. Why do I need this extra layer of overhead on my project, especially a simple effort? As human-beings (which is usually most of us in projects), we are naturally terrible at estimating.

“Our brains are designed to be optimistic about the future, and we have a tendency to forget unpleasant past events.”
* Project Management Institute

The DACI can minimize this risk by ensuring you have brought the right folks into the fold. No one likes rework or reopening a previously made decision. It can be frustrating and demotivating for the whole team.

There are many, many other aspects of the DACI we could cover but this general introduction gives you an idea of how we'll manage this project together to keep us on track and organized throughout the process of building your company's website. I hope this is helpful.

Drop me a line on my contact page, I’d love to hear how you stay organized on design projects or if I can help with your digital projects.

-Tom




September 3rd, 2018
What Is Your Brand Personality?
Project kick-offs involve several cornerstone activities that each play a significant role throughout your endeavor. One of the most critical tasks is defining your brand personality. Make no mistake, this isn’t YOUR personality, it's how your customers will perceive your service or product. I’m not a fan of big, long, wordy requirement documents, so I utilize a set of 7 questions (as one part of my kick-off process); Small/Big, Assertive/Playful, Masculine/Feminine, Young/Mature, Different/Trustworthy, Modern/Classic, Reserved/Outspoken.



The exercise is not meant to be all encompassing or conclusive but serve as a living guide for other requirements. Put something together, throw it against the wall to see if it sticks. It's incredibly easy to overthink these questions, if this happens my advice is to (1) go with your gut (2) allow only a few seconds for each response (3) if your stuck on something, skip it and come back later. In less than one-minute, your first pass at your products brand personality is done.

Drop me a line on my contact page, I love hearing from you all.