Formisimo, A U.K. Startup Tackling Web Form Friction, Exits Beta & Launches Price Plans

U.K.-based startup Formisimo is tackling the problem of web forms that go unfilled because of factors such as confusingly worded questions, layout or formatting errors, and rogue auto-filling wreaking havoc with the user’s intentions. It offers cloud-based web analytics specifically targeted at improving the performance of forms so e-commerce companies can identify where their users are going wrong.

The startup’s basic premise is that badly designed and implemented web forms can be a serious — and often overlooked — blocker to companies converting web users into paying customers. And which online user out there hasn’t at some point given up on signing up for/paying for something just because of the tedious prospect of too many fiddly little boxes needing to be filled in.

Formisimo founder Al Mackin describes web forms as “the forgotten part of almost every conversion funnel,” and argues they are hampered further by responsibility for the forms falling between two stools (so to speak): the marketing department and the web development team.

“They’re in a no-man’s land but they form a huge barrier between a website and the web visitor who is eager to engage in that business,” he tells TechCrunch. “One of the igniters behind this idea was a company I knew that spent millions of pounds on their digital marketing and thousands of man hours on optimising their pages and advertising but they completely overlooked their web forms.

“They weren’t even considered part of the conversion funnel, and there was no lock-down on the form so people would add new fields in or make changes to the code that validated the fields without consulting anyone. To be blunt the forms were awful, but they had no idea how to measure the performance, and the decisions being made were personal opinions, not ones based on data.”

So enter Formisimo: a specialist tool for forms, to lavish attention on this unloved (and many would say unlovely) piece of the e-commerce jigsaw puzzle.

The startup kicked off a beta service back in May and has just exited that seven-month testing phase to launch its paid offering. During its beta phase, Formisimo said its form analytics tool was used by almost 500 companies – including U.K. casino giant Genting Alderney, along with seven (unnamed) global brands.

Almost 40 million user interactions have been tracked via Formisimo to date, with beta users seeing an average boost in checkout and form conversion rates of 76 percent, according to the startup.

Formisimo’s freshly launched pricing is a freemium offering, with a limited free plan, and paid plans starting at £19.99/$29.99 per month (depending on features and volume of form/checkout views) — with a “mid-sized” business paying £79.99/$129.99 per month for the service.

In terms of the competitive landscape for his startup, Mackin concedes that it’s “possible” to use event tracking in Google Analytics to understand “basic paths users take in forms.”  But he argues that this method is “clunky and gives you only a tiny amount of data.”

Another rival he name-checks as having some overlap with Formisimo is ClickTale, but again he says they are not so fully focused on forms and therefore “not as advanced” in terms of the functions they can offer.

“Formisimo tracks more of the users’ interactions and has wider, more complex reporting than any other tool but it’s still installed in just five minutes with a simple piece of JavaScript pasted in to a page,” he adds.

Another tool in Formisimo’s toolbox is what it calls a “reactions engine,” which can be used to enable a web form to change based on an individual user’s experience of that form.

“If a user is struggling, why not remove some optional fields or provide them with a deeper level of help or assistance. The engine allows you to fire your own code so you can respond and improve the user experience in whatever way you like,” says Mackin.

Formisimo also offers simplified “health scores” for forms, so its users can quickly assess how effective or otherwise their forms are. It says these scores map the performance of an item against the rest of the customer’s website, its industry sector and a “blended performance from all sites” — for a quick overview of how good or bad a particular form is. 

Which sounds very much like the mantra for a frustration-free form — ‘keep it simple, stupid’ — applies just as much to form analysis reportage. While every e-commerce company surely wants all their forms to be friction-free, they probably don’t want to have to spend tedious amounts of time making sure these forms live up to that ideal.

TechCrunch’s Steve O’Hear contributed to this report