Somewhere on your website, you probably have a form with required fields. Airlines certainly do. They’re a prime example of the need to be very careful about how these fields are presented, lest your prospects get frustrated and abandon the website completely.

Recently I was trying to apply for a major airline’s frequent flyer program, and had filled out all the required information for the program, or at least I thought I did.

Here’s what happened.

After filling in my personal information, I hit the “submit” button.

“Error!” The page said, “We cannot process your phone number.”

I took a quick look at my phone number, made sure it was correct, and then hit “submit” again.

“Error!” The page said, “We cannot process your phone number.”

This is where I really had to fight my urge to exit the website. I looked closer. There, under the last four digits of my phone number, in light grey type on a blue background, were the words: “Extension (optional).” Apparently, I was supposed to put the last four digits alongside the first three, in the preceding field.

This is a great example of why forms, and the checkout process in general, can cause such frustration for consumers. Not only are the field instructions in light grey text (hard to read), they’re also on a light blue background making them even more difficult to see.

So, if you’re going to ask for a phone number (or any other pertinent information), make sure you’re labeling all fields clearly and keeping the process as easy to complete as possible.

Compare this to an example of a website form’s phone field that is more consumer-friendly, courtesy of

Simple, right? That’s really all you need.