— Remove all unnecessary links, which are usually 90% of the ones of the page.
— Minimize the header and text as much as possible. Then, cut it down even further.
— Reduce the number of fields, especially required fields, to the bare minimum. Once you have someone’s email address you can always market to them later to fill out more fields.
— Keep all the fields in the form above the fold so that the user doesn’t have to scroll down at all. Test and enforce this on monitors with a 1024×768 resolution.
— State clearly that you value the person’s privacy and won’t sell or share their information.
With these best practices in place, conversions typically increase 10%-50% over a normal sign-up page.
(1) Cf. Seth Godin’s The first rule of web design.
(2) It’s amazing how hard it is to get simple things right, but so easy to see others’ errors.