Good UX: Avoid Multi-Columns Layout
This is a good article to reinforce how form layouts matter in driving conversions and usability.
One of the problems with form fields in multiple columns is that your users are likely to interpret the fields inconsistently.
Below you’ll find a video clip showing how 2 test subjects interacted with a two-column form field arrangement. Notice how the first test subject thinks he only has to fill out the fields of either the left or the right column while the second test subject thinks she needs to start in the left column and then proceed to right column, even though there’s actually a dimmed “or” instruction between the two columns.
Consistent to our finding in our experience with clients' work, we usually advise to keep the form fields minimal and a simple follow-through layout to guide users. Introducing 2 column layouts only increase confusion from users. See the following image on how a 2 column layout could possibly be interpreted in 5 different ways.
In the case when you really have too many fields to capture, perhaps a good way is to split up evenly the fields and have a multi-page process to guide the user.
One worthy example to cite is the Groupon sign-up process where the simple 3 steps process is communicated by embedding that expectation both in the message as well as in the submit button.
Have you come across any other good best practice of form layouts? Do share with us.