How to design an effective sign-up form

When it comes to your email sign-ups, success is based on three vital elements: design, copy, and the information gathered. We’ll start with the foundation of your sign-up form: the design.
There are so many things to consider when it comes to your sign-up design, and it’s vital not to slack on any of them.


The placement of your email sign-up form is vital to its success. While you may not think this would fall under design, we believe it does. After all of the hard work you put into creating your sign-up form, it would be a shame for it not to be seen.
In order for your sign-up form to bring in more subscribers, you have to make your form present in the right place at the right time.
When you’re finding a location for your sign-up form, you need to take your audience into consideration. Would they be more likely to sign up if it was at the top of your website, or if it was available on your Facebook page?
There are a number of places where you can place your sign-up form, however, it’s up to you to decide where it will be most successful. Here’s a list of some places that you may want to include your email collection form:
  • Header of your website
  • Footer of your website
  • Pop-up window
  • Facebook page
Including your email-sign up form on your Facebook page is a great way to build your email list. Social media and email may seem like they’re always competing, but they actually work best when integrated. So, don’t forget to include your sign-up form on your social account pages.


The layout of your sign-up form is basically the blueprint of your design. It will map out where your header, image, and CTA will go. You can use a template that is provided by an email service provider or customize your own.

In your email sign-ups, you’re not going to be promoting a blog or a new YouTube video at the same time. You’re going to ask them simply to subscribe to your email list, and that’s it. And when you have one goal in mind, there’s a specific way to strategize your layout.

It’s imperative to keep the layout simple so that your user remains focused on your message and the action you want them to take next.

Comparable to landing page design, you don’t want to distract your user from the goal, so maintaining a simplistic design will help your users stay on track.

In summary, you should always avoid any busy compositions and make the graphic easy to digest.

Color selection

The colors you choose to incorporate into your email list sign-up form take on a lot of responsibility. You don’t want to include too many colors to distract your user, but you also want to maintain your branding and communicate clearly.

When you’re considering a color palette, it’s important to include contrasting colors so that it’s easier to draw your user’s eye to specific places. It’s also helpful to keep your color choices simple.
Maintaining a simple color scheme allows you to keep your user’s attention and help them focus on the most important information.

Using contrasting colors gives you the opportunity to create the path you want your user’s eye to take. The distinct difference in contrasting colors gives you the opportunity you to organize your form. Take this Headspace email as an example.
headspace color scheme
Image Source: Really Good Emails
Blue and orange are contrasting colors, and Headspace used this color pairing to help segment the content within the email. First, you’re greeted with the chance to subscribe with a white background.
You then proceed to the next section that includes a discount offer within the orange section.

The color scheme encourages the user to scroll down and is complemented with blue CTAs that draw you in to subscribe. They choose to set up colors this way to purposefully set the CTA apart from the other copy.

And let’s be honest, if you’re going to draw attention to anything, it should be your CTA.

What you choose to say

Of course, you can just ask plainly: “Sign up for our email list,” or you can get a little more creative and explore other options, as long as the end goal is always clear.

The email sign-up wording you include in your sign-up form should be relative to the business you’re trying to promote. Maybe a humorous tone will work best to engage your audience, or you want to convey the sincerity and importance of the updates you’ll be providing.

No matter which tone fits your brand, your copy will help you achieve more subscribers. But, you need to find the voice that specifically draws in your users.

Take this email sign-up from The North Face as an example. Their sign-up form is located at the bottom of their website and reads: “Adventure is everywhere. Even in your inbox.” This strategy draws their outdoorsy users in by creating an adventurous sensation with copy alone.
They also kept it quite simple by getting to the point right away. The North Face avoids distracting their user’s attention by stating what they have to offer and providing the field for you to fill out your email (or not). It doesn’t beg, and it doesn’t try to grab your attention. This example goes to show that you can use copy, and only copy, to get the job done.

Here are some other things you can include in your copy to encourage users to sign up:
  • Discounts/Incentives
  • Fear of missing out. Everyone can fall to FOMO, even people who aren’t your subscribers.
  • A content preview
  • Perceived value of subscriber content

The information you ask for

The information you are requesting from your prospects can make or break your mailing list sign-up form. There are audiences that don’t want to be bothered multiple fields to complete, and then, there are those who don’t mind.

While asking for too much information may not distract everyone, it will for sure turn some away. You want to find that sweet spot where you’re getting all the information you need without asking for too much.

Here are some bits of information that you may want to request when creating your email collection form:
  • First name
  • Last Name
  • Email Address (of course)
  • Interests
  • ZIP Code
Planet Fitness sign up example
Image Source: Planet Fitness
Name, ZIP code, email address—that all makes a lot of sense. But, why would you want to access information regarding your new user’s interests?

Using this PacSun email sign-up form as an example, they not only offer an incentive, but they also provide an option to choose who you’re shopping for. This would fall under that “Interest” category. Including this in your email sign-up allows you to access more detailed information so that you can target them more efficiently in the future.

Image Source: PacSun

Wrap up

Design, copy and the information you request from your user all play a vital role in the success of your email sign-up form. The creative and content strategy behind each sign-up form is based solely on the company behind the brand, and it’s up to you to figure out what works for you.

Nailing the perfect sign-up form will require A/B testing because no one succeeds on the first try. As you learn more about your audience and what draws them in, you’ll be able to mold each aspect of your form to cater to your prospects.

We’ve listed some general guidelines to follow, but there aren’t any sign-up form rules set in stone. Whether you decide to think outside the box or color within the lines, you will create the sign-up form that benefits your email list best.


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