Writing Useful Instructions

The title of the form is the first instruction to the user. IF the user fills out an "order form" they believe it is sued to place an order. If it's a "contact form" they expect to contact you, or for you to contact them.

Of key importance is the preamble - the text at the top of the form, that tell the user why they are being asked to fill out a form. A good preamble will result in a higher completion rate.

Some especial precautions

Tips for clarity:

In some instances, the preamble may convince the user not to fill out the form, or it may direct them to a different form, especially in cases where users seem to be constantly filling out the "wrong" form on yoru site.

After the preamble, it's useful to provide a list of things the user must gather - especially in cases where the user will need a number of items, or even a few unusual ones, telling them this up-front will prevent an ugly surprise later (getting halfway through the process, only to discover they need something).

A before-and-after example is provided with a form that: