Payment Form Best Practices

Payment Form Best Practices for Online Checkout

If you run an online ecommerce store or marketplace, your checkout page is arguably the most important feature of your website.

It’s where you’ll ultimately get paid and figure out if your marketing strategies are working to perfection or not.

Believe it or not, but the checkout page is usually the most broken page on an online marketplace.

In fact, a broken checkout page always contributes to a high abandonment rate on an online store.

If your checkout page is designed in a way that’s unattractive to your target audience, then you’re going to have a hard time getting them to trust you with their personal payment process method details.

This means that all of the time, effort, and money you’ve spent funneling prospects to your checkout page will have all been in vain.

Do you believe that your checkout page or payment form needs to be revamped to achieve a better performance?

If so, then you can refer to this guide to learn about all the top payment form best practices.

Eliminate Multi-Column Forms

According to a groundbreaking experiment conducted by Baymard Institute, many users misinterpret multi-column forms. Particularly, they skip essential form fields or form inputs the wrong information into incorrect fields.

This can obviously cause conflicts with completing the form, resulting in a high cart abandonment rate. Naturally, when people see forms with several columns, their eyes start scanning them in a zig-zagging pattern, causing confusion:

Eliminate Multi-Column Forms

Designing a payment processing form in a consistent, single-column style is much easier on the eyes and convenient to fill out. Therefore, eliminating the use of multi-column payment forms can reduce the chance that a website user misinterprets your form.

There are some notable exceptions, such as when you can add several fields in the same row without stressing your audience’s eyes. For example, using a linear form to ask for credit card details isn’t as stressful as a multi-column form.

This only works when different fields belong to the same category, like so:

Geekbot Payment Form

As you can see, payment forms are more effective when the sequence looks similar to the information visible on a payment card details.

Reduce the Number of Fields

In the website development industry, a common term that is used is friction. These are obstacles preventing someone from converting on a website. If you ever filled out an online payments form with too many fields, then you’ve encountered massive friction.

Some people get irritated when faced with overly-comprehensive forms and abandon them soon after. Unfortunately, many payment forms have more fields than what’s necessary.

This is considered to be one of the leading causes of high cart abandonment rates. It’s recommended that a payment form for unregistered website users should have between 6-8 fields for a product that needs to be shipped physically.

For instance, if you’re only selling products in the United States, you should eliminate the second address line that’s visible in most eCommerce payment forms. Most US physical addresses never require a second address line.

Believe it or not, some of these forms will mandate users to insert something into this field. If you do sell products abroad, then you can include a second address line. Though, you should make sure that this field is set to optional.

Lastly, make sure that you avoid using a “first” and “last” name field. A collective “full name” field is just more convenient and time-consuming for the website user to fill out.

Position Fields from Easiest to Most Difficult

A subliminal and effective way to reduce the abandonment rate of your payment form template is to arrange the fields from easiest to most difficult. This will help website users become more eager in filling out the form.

For example, starting a payment form with filling out the first and last name won’t normally deter a person from continuing. However, requiring that they first add their billing and shipping and other personal details can cause impatient leads to leave your checkout page.

Offer Pre-Filled Forms

It doesn’t make much sense for merchants to ask for information that’s self-explanatory and obvious. To avoid making this mistake, provide customers with access to pre-filled forms.

For example, you can take advantage of geo-targeting to automatically fill out basic form fields based on information a user inserts. If they insert their zip code into the payment form, it can automatically grab their city and other address details.

Indicate Fields That are Required and Optional

Granted, many payment forms include an asterisk, indicating fields that are required by the user to fill out. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know what the asterisk means. Also, the asterisk may show up after a person unsuccessfully tries to fill out the form, to their annoyance.

A quick and easy multiple payment methods to avoid frustrating potential customers is placing a placeholder “required” inside required fields or next to the box. You can also try to make required fields red.

Though, you should avoid this practice if your target audience does include older or elderly people. If your form features more required fields than optional ones, you can mark the optional fields to avoid irritating errors.

Thus, your perfect payment form will be easy to scan and fill out, while reducing all possible distractions.

Avoid Drop-Down Boxes — Use Radio Buttons Instead

A study from CXL found that people complete payment forms much faster with radio buttons instead of drop-down boxes. This makes sense finding the right drop-down selection takes far more time than clicking on the correct option.

When there are less than five payment options for a field, it makes much more sense to use radio buttons. Radio buttons are also ideal if you’re offering various options inside of a field, such as subscription choices.

This way, website users can see all of their choices at a first glance rather than having to read each drop-down selection. So, when is it necessary to use a drop-down box? Using drop-down boxes is a great choice when there is a recommended selection among other default choices.

This way, the website user doesn’t take too long to decide which option to choose:

Use Radio Buttons

Lastly, drop-down boxes are also best when a large variety of options is presented.

Don’t Highlight Coupon Fields Too Much

When a person sees a field or option asking for a coupon code, they automatically assume that there is a special offer somewhere else on the website. The bad news is that they may even leave your website to find this deal.

In this case, there is a great risk that people who leave your website (regardless of their interest) may never return.


They just may find a better or more affordable deal on a competitor’s website.

Coupon Fields

It’s also important to remember that incorrect coupon codes can cause issues on your website. If you seldom offer coupon codes or special deals, you should hide this option on your payment forms.

There is an exception, however.

If your payment form is targeting potential customers interested in a special deal, then showing the field is appropriate.

Make Use of Clickable Images

It’s a common fact that people process images much faster than text. They’re much more likely to check a box instead of selecting an option from a drop-down box menu. Clickable images also make a form appear more dynamic and is great for website users who skim:

Clickable Images

Try Adding a Progress Bar

Have you ever endured filling out a long form without knowing how far along you had to go? Unless you’re filling out an important payment form on a government or medical website, you’re more likely to leave that website after experiencing something like this.

With that said, you can try adding a progress bar to your payment form to provide website users with helpful information so they can know how many more fields they’ll need to fill out before completion.

Progress bars can improve a person’s motivation to complete a payment collection form. As a matter of fact, they’ll feel as though they have more control over their experience if they know when they’ll be finished.

Enhance Checkout Performance and Speed

A one-second delay in a website page’s loading speed can significantly impact its conversion rate. Rightfully so, there are trillions of websites online, so internet users never have to settle for anything.

If they wait too long, they’ll leave your website in a heartbeat. A current study shows that a person won’t wait more than three seconds for a website to load. It also reported that website pages that loaded within 0 to 1 seconds improved its conversion rate by 15% compared to pages loading more than 10 seconds.

Another study even confirms that a two-second load time delay on a payment form can lead to a 87% cart abandonment rate.

Reducing excessive page loading times is very important for mobile users and devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Therefore, it’s essential to remove every aspect of your website pages that can negatively impact its performance, such as:

  • Remove distractions and extra elements — This includes irrelevant aspects of your payment forms, such as graphic elements, non-related links, and social buttons.
  • Get rid of all clutter — Clear payment forms of clutter that can impede website visitors from converting. This means removing the header and footer elements from the payment form.
  • Don’t direct to other pages — Never redirect website visitors to other pages in order to complete the checkout flow process. Keep them on one page to improve your conversion rate and reduce your cart abandonment rate as well.
  • Maintain convenience — Add a secure “remember me” feature on your payment form to save payment information for website users who want to make repeated purchases. It would be extremely convenient for them to pay for their cart with just a few clicks.

Design an Elegant Form

All of the payment form best practices on this list have only touched on technical aspects. It’s also very important to design payment forms that matches the layout on your website.

To put it simply, your payment form needs to look like it belongs on your website. Therefore, if you’re running a vibrant and modern online marketplace, make sure that your payment form and checkout process reflects that.

Add Clear Call-to-Actions (CTAs)

Successful CTAs are supposed to be clear and concise. They’re also supposed to be unique without being excessive. For example, some forms include generic language like “OK or “Go”.

Avoid this type of language. Instead, strive to add more descriptive copy to your CTAs, such as “pay now” or “I’m ready to pay”.

Showcase the Price

Customers should know the final price of everything they’re paying for (including tax and shipping) at all times. If the final price isn’t visible, a person may try to go back to check, and this can complicate the checkout process if they have to re-enter their information again.

Adding the final price to the bottom of the payment form can help reduce your form’s cart abandonment rate:

Showcase the Price

Use Microcopy When Errors Arise

It doesn’t matter how professionally you design a payment form. A lot of people are going to make mistakes. However, you can frustrate website users when your payment form isn’t clear on what the exact issues are.

You can use microcopy on your payment form to specifically describe the issues your audience is facing:

Use Microcopy When Errors Arise

This is much better communication than error message like “some fields are incorrect” or a blank red border over the field with incorrect information. Also, make sure that your microcopy is clear and concise.

Avoid using technical jargon that can confuse incoming customers:

Avoid Technical Jargons - Checkout Form

Improve Your eCommerce Website Design

As you can see, there are several important factors to remember when creating a high-performance payment form that can convert new prospects into paying customers. It’s often best to hire a skilled website development agency to make sure that your checkout process is in optimal condition;

Do you want to learn more about how we can help. Contact us today to speak to a member of our team about building a fully-functional online marketplace.

Ryan is the VP of Operations for He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations--delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.
Connect with Ryan on Linkedin.
Ryan Nead