Five Things You Should Know About Using Forms

  1. A CAPTCHA is an important part of a web form. Surely you have seen a CAPTCHA by now; they are becoming the standard on most online forms. CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. It is a spam prevention tool which generates an image of distorted letters and/or numbers. The person filling out the form must type an exact match of what is in the image before the form will properly submit. This basically verifies the form is being submitted by a human and not a spam bot.
  2. Importance of Contact Form – Utilizing a contact form on your website is very
    Contact Form Example

    An Example of a Simple Contact Form

    important. A lot of people carelessly throw their email address onto their websites without thinking twice, by no fault of their own, as they are simply not properly educated on the subject. We highly recommend to all of our clients that they avoid this practice and instead use a contact form. By listing your email address on your website, spam bots can crawl your site, pick up any email addresses listed, throw them into a spam database and begin slamming you with illegitimate, offensive and nonsense emails. By integrating a Contact Form, no one will ever see your email address, thus eliminating the chance for spam bots to have access to your address. By adding a CAPTCHA to your form, you are almost eliminating the chance for spammers to get your email by way of your website. Not only will a contact form decrease spam, but it is also a great tool to analyze your business. By utilizing a dropdown menu (or something similar) to give the viewer the option to choose the subject of their comment or inquiry, you can determine what people are most frequently contacting you about. Giving them a comments box to freely express what they need is also helpful. In addition, by using something like Google Analytics, you can see how many people navigate to the contact form and actually submit it.

  3. Elements of a Form – You can get pretty creative with forms if you so choose, however, you need to be aware that the longer the form is, the less likely someone is going to fill it out and submit it. You will want to keep it as simplified as possibly while still gathering all of the information that is needed to process the specified request. Here is a list of what types of elements you can utilize in your web forms.
    • Text Box – a simple, one line box that allows the input of text
    • Text Area – similar to the text box, but with a text area you can enter multiple rows of text.
    • Drop Down – a list of items that the viewer can choose from. On a contact form, this is often used to determine which department they want to contact or what the inquiry is regarding.
    • Checkbox – these are used when you want to allow someone to choose more than one option
    • Radio Button – a radio button is used when you only want to allow one option to be chosen
    • File Select – this control allows the viewer to browse to a file on their local computer and upload it to your server.
    • Reset Button – a reset button will reset all of the fields/buttons to their initial values
    • Submit Button – Submits the form to the specified email address, providing that all necessary information is filled out
  4. PDF Forms – If you have a form that is rather long in length, it might be a good idea to
    Fillable PDF Form

    An Example of a Fillable PDF Form

    forgo the web form and create a fillable PDF form. This can only be done if you have the correct software such as Adobe Acrobat Pro, but any graphic designer or web development company should be able to help you out if you do not have the resources. When you create a fillable PDF document, you have all of the same options as you would a webform (text boxes, check boxes, radio buttons, etc.) With a PDF form, you can integrate buttons that allow the user to save it to their local computer, print it, or email it to a specified recipient. A good use of a PDF form would be for documents such as applications. You can also create a PDF that is just static (not fillable) for someone to download, fill out, and mail to you.

  5. Form Suggestions – A good rule of thumb is to always use some kind of form when asking for information from your website viewers. Here are some suggestions for implementing forms on your website:
  • Web Form Ideas
    • Contact Form – As mentioned earlier in this article, contact forms are extremely important for being able to sort out inquiries, analyze data, and prevent spam.
    • RFQ – Do you offer a product or service that is quoted on a job by job basis? Implementing a Request for Quote form is an excellent idea to generate leads.
    • Material/Sample Request – Do you offer free samples of your product or certain materials you use? Setup a form to take these requests.
  • PDF Form Ideas (Fillable or Static)
    • Employment/Volunteer/Membership Applications – Usually these applications are multiple pages long. A PDF form is ideal for this so the applicant can either print it and mail it to you or digitally fill it out and email it to you. If you require information such as social security numbers and/or credit card numbers that shouldn’t be shared via an unsecure web connection, make sure you do not give the option of submitting the form through email. Forms requesting such information would be best as a static form.
    • Patient Forms (static) – By offering patient forms online, this would significantly reduce the time waiting at the doctor’s office. NOTE: We do not suggest submitting forms such as medical surveys, financial information, etc. over an unsecured web server. If using a form for this type of information, we suggest making it a downloadable form that they can print and mail to you or hand deliver.

Briana Nobrega

Briana is the Graphic Designer at inConcert. She also has the responsibilities of Assistant Project Manager. She creates all web, print, and promotional item artwork for our projects. She has an Associates Degree in Graphic Design from Mount Wachusett Community College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Graphic Communications from Franklin Pierce University.

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