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Creating Membership Forms That Work: A Guide to Building User-Friendly Forms

14 April 2023 11:37

If you run a society, maintaining and growing your membership base is obviously hugely important. One of the most effective ways to do this is by creating an online membership application form that is user-friendly, easy to navigate, and facilitates payment (including Gift Aid).

In this blog post, we'll provide you with some tips and best practices for creating a membership application form that will encourage more people to join you.

1. Keep it Simple and Concise

The first and most important step to creating an effective membership application form is to keep it simple and concise. The form should be easy to complete, with a clear structure and logical flow. To achieve this, you should only ask for the information that is absolutely necessary for the application process. Avoid asking for unnecessary details or information that may discourage people from completing the form. For example using hidden fields, which are only revealed if a certain option is chosen, makes a form less daunting and so more likely to be filled in.

2. Use Clear and Concise Labels

To help users understand the information being requested, you should use clear and concise labels for each field on the form. The labels should be descriptive, indicating what information is required and in what format. For example, if you are requesting the applicant's name, you should use a label such as "Full Name" or "Name (First and Last)". This will help to avoid any confusion and ensure that the information provided is accurate.

3. Group Related Information Together

Another important consideration when creating a membership application form is to group related information together. This helps users to understand the information being requested and also makes it easier to complete the form. For example, you could group together fields such as name, address, and contact information, to make it clear that these fields are related and should be completed together. 

4. Use Placeholders and Hints

To provide additional information about the information being requested or how it should be formatted, you should use placeholders and hints. Placeholders are examples of the type of information that should be entered into a field, while hints provide additional information about how the information should be formatted. For example, you could use a placeholder such as "John Smith" for the name field and a hint such as "Please enter your name exactly as it appears on your passport".

5. Choose the Right Form Elements

Choosing the right form elements is crucial when it comes to creating an effective and user-friendly form. There are a variety of form elements available, including radio buttons, checkboxes, dropdown menus, text fields, and more.

Radio Buttons vs. Checkboxes

Radio buttons and checkboxes are two of the most commonly used form elements, but they have different use cases. Radio buttons are used when the user needs to make a single choice from a list of options, while checkboxes are used when the user can select one or more options.

For example, on a membership application form, you might use radio buttons to ask the user which membership level they would like to apply for, as they can only choose one option. On the other hand, you might use checkboxes to ask the user which types of communication they would like to receive, as they might want to select multiple options.

Hidden Fields

Another useful feature to consider when building a membership application form is the use of hidden fields. Hidden fields allow you to hide certain form fields until a specific condition is met, such as selecting a certain option in a radio button or checkbox.

Where this would be useful is if you are asking the user how they would like to pay their membership fee. In this scenario you could include a radio button for "BACS" payments and once the user selects this option, you could then reveal additional fields where you can provide your bank details and any instructions.

This approach can be particularly useful for forms with a lot of fields, as it can help to reduce the applicant from feeling overwhelmed and will encourage and enable them to complete the process.

Dropdown Menus

Dropdown menus are another common form element, particularly when asking for information such as a user's country. Dropdown menus are useful for presenting a large number of options in a compact space, but thought should be given to the number of choices presented so that they don't become frustrating for users having to scroll through a long list to find the option they need. This is particularly important on mobile phones.

Text Fields

Text fields are one of the most basic form elements, but they are also one of the most versatile. Text fields can be used for a wide range of inputs such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. When designing your membership application form, it's important to think carefully about the type of information you are asking for and how you can make it as easy as possible for users to input this information.

For example, when asking for a user's address, you might consider using separate fields for the street name, town/city, and postal code. This can help to ensure that all the necessary information is collected accurately and so reduces the likelihood of errors.

5. Use Validation and Error Messages

Another important consideration is how you will validate the information entered by the user. Validation is the process of checking the data entered into the form to ensure that it is correct to help reduce errors. It is essential that an email form element automatically checks that the user has entered a valid email address. It's also possible to choose whether to make a field a 'required field' which will ensure the field has been filled in before allowing the user to submit the form. 

6. Make it Accessible

Accessibility should always be a priority when creating a membership application form. You should use appropriate contrast, keyboard navigation, and other accessibility features to ensure that the form is easy to use for all users. For example, you could use high contrast colours to make the form easier to read for users with visual impairments, and provide keyboard navigation for users who cannot use a mouse.

7. Consider Gift Aid

Gift Aid is a UK tax incentive that allows charities and other non-profit organisations to claim back the tax paid on donations. If your society is a registered charity, you should consider including a Gift Aid section on your membership application form to boost your funds and support your activities.

To include a Gift Aid section on your form, you should ask applicants if they would like to make a Gift Aid declaration. If they agree, you should provide them with a statement explaining the tax incentive and asking them to confirm that they are eligible to make. This is where hidden fields come into their own to ensure that a form doesn't appear too long and daunting.


In conclusion, building an effective and user-friendly membership application form requires careful consideration of the form elements you use and how they are presented to the user. By using radio buttons, checkboxes, hidden fields, dropdown menus, text fields, buttons, and validation, you can create a form that is both easy to use and highly effective at collecting the information you need from your members.

With these best practices in mind, you can create a membership application form that is not only functional but also enjoyable for users to interact with. At KhooSeller our software has been designed to create user-friendly, easy to navigate, and accessible membership forms. If you would like to find out more please get in touch.