Form Builders and Templates – What You Need to Know

By Brian Sugarman on March 16, 2021
Tags: Data Collection

Person holding mobile device

 

Forms can be complex and many times they can be more nuanced than you might expect. But with properly designed layouts, you can improve workflows, facilitate automation, and enable your business to customize and enhance its data collection practices. Continue reading this blog post for:

  • Information about forms
  • A summary of different types of forms on the market today
  • Examples of industry use cases for forms

 

What is a form?

A form is a tool that has fields where individuals can write text or select from various options. The end use of forms can vary significantly, but most often they function to register for something, fill out a statement, create a request, or submit an order.

Forms may also be multi-purpose by design, and they can even lead end-users to different outcomes based on how they respond to the form fields.  While most forms are provided blank, some form designers may also leverage placeholder content in digital forms that can prompt users to provide certain types of data.

Forms can also have advanced features like dynamically populating content using data that is being referenced from a database, often referred to as reference data. Reference data can help pre-populate form fields, simplifying the process for people filling out the form by leveraging data that is already known.

The benefit of using forms to collect data is that they help to make data consistent and uniform for storing, processing, and analyzing the data. One common example of using forms is when businesses need to collect data from their customers to store inside a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Integrating the form with the CRM database allows a business to dynamically populate the form fields based on the data they already have from the customer. It then allows them to collect a standard set of data fields from customers, ensuring that they are bringing in consistent and standard data that can be used when creating reports and performing analysis.

 

What are the different form builders on the market, and how are they used?

There are different types of form builders available to the market today. Some of these form-building tools have more niche-specific uses, while others have a broad set of use cases. Here’s a quick overview of some of the different form builders on the market today:

 

Mobile App Forms

Mobile app forms are specialized forms that function as mobile apps. GoCanvas is a leading firm in developing mobile app forms for data collection and sharing. Users can access the form builder to create custom apps that can be used on tablets and smartphones or through a desktop app available on Windows and Apple computers. 

The data from these forms is stored in the cloud and it can help businesses reduce their paper usage. The functional capabilities of GoCanvas apps include GPS location capture, photos, custom form fields, signature capture, and reference data, among others. Users can share form submissions through a .csv file or a PDF report. 

GoCanvas also integrates with a wide range of platforms, including Quickbooks, Salesforce, Dropbox, Google Drive, PulseM, Netsuite, Zendesk, and much more. Through Zapier, GoCanvas can integrate with over 3,000 apps to automate workflows and increase workplace productivity.

 

WordPress Plugins

There are countless WordPress plugins available that form writers can use to develop and deploy forms accessible from websites. Some of the most popular ones include Gravity Forms, Formidable Forms, WPForms, Jetpack Forms, and others. These form builders are drag-and-drop plugins that are dynamic in their applications. It is relatively easy to embed these forms directly into websites designed on the WordPress CMS. 

Most often, people use these types of forms as a contact form, registration form, or marketing form to collect information for email marketing campaigns. These forms can also function as a submission tool for file uploads or a payment authorization tool that can integrate with PayPal or Stripe systems.

Form data collected through these plugins are typically accessible in various formats, including an online dashboard or exportable format through .csv or XML format. Users can customize these forms by using more advanced CSS or HTML code to define specific looks and functionality.

 

Email Marketing Forms

Most email marketing campaigns will use lead capture systems and CRMs for marketing and sales purposes. Some of the most well-known email marketing providers include Hubspot, Mailchimp, and Constant Contact – all of which have forms that can integrate with various types of websites, mobile apps, or through stand-alone systems.

In general, these forms are somewhat limited in their capabilities, although it is possible to automate workflows based on inputs and conditional logic. Most commonly, these types of forms are meant to collect basic information that can inform marketing and sales teams about interested customers or prospective customers.

 

Survey Tools

Google Forms and SurveyMonkey are two popular tools for sending out free or low-cost surveys.  These types of forms can be built with conditional logic, automation, and other capabilities to collect data from groups of all sizes.

Reporting dashboards are also available in these platforms so that users can generate actionable and insightful data from results. Google Forms integrates directly with Google Sheets so that these forms can quickly aggregate data into a cloud-based Google Sheet.

 

Use cases for different form builders

Given the various types of form builders available to the market, it may be helpful to compare the different uses for each form builders we’ve covered in this article. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Mobile App Forms are helpful tools for businesses that require checklists, reports, data collection tools, evaluations, guidelines, and other tools for recording, reporting, or sharing information.
  • WordPress Plugins can be used in various use cases but are often deployed for contact capture purposes, as registration forms, contact forms, and other somewhat simplistic use cases. 
  • Email Marketing Forms are niche purpose forms, mostly related to capturing contact information for users. 
  • Survey tools are great for collecting responses from respondents and aggregating data into easy-to-understand insights such as charts and graphics. 

 

How different industries can use forms effectively

Nearly every industry today uses forms to improve its business processes and outcomes. Here are some of the innovative ways that companies are using mobile forms to streamline their operations:

  • Work orders for companies in the construction, repair, and improvement industry may be generated through a form builder to integrate with systems such as Quickbooks so that accounting departments can approve expenditures or authorize work quickly. 
  • Building inspection forms can utilize conditional logic and automation to rapidly dispatch the correct maintenance personnel depending on the nature of an issue during the inspection.
  • Estimate sheets can be used to help businesses to bid effectively on projects, using calculations that can be performed automatically through the form.
  • Time tracking can be automated for staff when companies may leverage GPS capabilities integrated into forms to ensure that inspectors are at the correct job site at the right time
  • Field service reports can streamline communications between workers and their offices, ultimately minimizing miscommunications and improving service outcomes. Field service technicians can use technical service orders to automatically request specialized service types while including pertinent details such as images of problem areas, GPS coordinates of where a problem is, and much more.
  • Forms for Human Resources departments to effectively track employees’ time, ensure proper training sessions are attended, or even authorize vacation and time-off requests with ease.
  • Compliance and safety management for organizations that need to comply with OSHA requirements. These companies use forms for inspection checklists to maintain employee health and safety by ensuring that facilities are in compliance and that proper safety inspections are occurring regularly.

 

Mobile apps and forms can make an impact on businesses of all types and sizes. If you are looking for other types of forms to use for your business, GoCanvas has done the work for you already – we have over 20,000 mobile app forms that are pre-built for many different industries and use cases to help you get started for free.