9 Tips to Improve your Applicant's Online Form Experience

Every day, we use application forms for essential activities – complete purchases, apply for funding, sign up for social networks, provide feedback on a product we’ve bought, and more – they’re a huge part of user experience.

As an administrator of a scholarship, fellowship, award, grant or other program that uses an online form, It’s important that your users are able to complete their application quickly and without confusion. The less effort they have to spend, the happier they are. You want to provide your user with a more productive experience that is faster, easier and more productive.

Here are 9 tips you can use to ensure that your application form makes the user’s experience seamless and easy, and successful:

1. Keep it simple

  • Avoid using complex language or redundant information.  Use a clean, simple design with adequate spacing and clear typography to improve user experience.

2. Make it clear

  • Clearly label form fields and provide clear instructions.

3. Use appropriate input types

  • Use checkboxes for multiple options, radio buttons for exclusive options, and drop-down menus for a limited number of options.

4. Provide real-time feedback

  • Validate user inputs and provide clear error messages when necessary.

5. Ensure accessibility

  • Make sure the form is accessible to users with disabilities, using proper alternative text and labeling.

6. Optimize for mobile

  • Make sure the form is easily usable on small screens and touch devices.

7. Offer progress indicators

  • Let users know where they are in the process and how much more they need to fill out, but allow them to save their work while the application is in progress.

8. Consider smart defaults

  • Use smart defaults for fields, such as autofilling city and state based on zip code, or use drop-down lists for consistent data.

9. Test and refine

  • Continuously test the form and make improvements based on user feedback.

We sometimes get caught up in the information that we require from applicants, but taking a step back and looking at ways to simplify the form setup can help ensure you get the high quality applicants that you are looking for.


Since 2008, RQ Awards has helped organizations around the world simplify and streamline their Award Programs. Contact us to learn more about how RQ Awards can help your organization become more efficient and reach your target audience.

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