Does the ‘Perfect Form’ Exist?

Online forms

To some people, the only “perfect” form is one that knows when it’s needed, fills itself out flawlessly, and then submits itself to whoever needs it. Believe it or not, we’re pretty close to having that.

Workflows can be designed to deliver online forms as needed, to the exact person who needs to complete them. And “autopopulate” capability, which is a feature of some form software systems, minimizes the amount of typing required. Moreover, completed forms can be routed to the proper approving authority instantly, and even notify them that a form requires their attention.

If such features seem unobtainable with the online form solution you use now, maybe it’s time to think about new form software.

What the “Perfect Form” Should Do

The ideal form should be pleasing to the eye. Form field instructions should be large enough to be legible, and clear enough so there’s no confusion. It should immediately flag improper field entries (like when someone enters letters into a field requesting a number) so mistakes can be corrected right away, and it should have intelligent features that allow it to “know” when someone is entering a figure that is out of scale.

When someone types in a piece of information (such as their name), the form should automatically enter that information into other spaces requesting the same information, to eliminate duplication of effort. Completed forms should go to the appropriate person, and that person should be notified that a completed form has arrived. In short, today’s “perfect” form appears only when needed, requests the minimum amount of input from the user, and automatically proceeds to the next step of the process to which the form belongs.

Demand the Following from Your Form Software

When you choose form software, it should help you break down tasks into discrete steps, and it should have a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWG) interface. Most companies prefer that their form software resides in the cloud, so that they don’t have to maintain IT infrastructure necessary to run powerful software systems on-site. Small companies like cloud software for this very reason, plus the fact that initial buy-in costs are minimized.

Online forms

Most companies prefer cloud-hosted software, though some require on-premises software for security reasons.

Choose form software that includes easy-to-use reporting capabilities, even if you don’t think you’ll use it. The day may come sooner than you imagined when you want to create a report of order tallies by Zip Code, or to find out how many times a particular sales rep traveled during the past quarter, for example. Your form software should make it easy for designers to include automatic notifications as well as role-based access to forms, for security purposes. Finally, your form software should integrate easily with other office systems, like databases, spreadsheets, and web forms.

Always Keep the End-User in Mind

If you want your online forms to be as near-perfect as possible, then keep the end-user in mind when you design them. For example, if a field asks the user to enter “ID number,” is it obvious to the user where that ID number comes from? Is it their employee ID number, or a part ID number? Keep ambiguity to a minimum.

Break lengthy forms into separate pages to keep from overwhelming users, and if forms are made to be mobile-friendly (and they should be), make certain they load quickly and look like they’re supposed to on mobile devices before you deploy them.

An Iterative Improvement Process Should Be Easy

Finally, choose form software that allows you to continually improve your forms as needed. You don’t want to be locked into a form design that turns out not to be ideal. While you shouldn’t change online forms according to every whim, you do want to be able to make necessary changes to cope with end-user issues, changes in technologies, and changes in the workflows in which the forms are used.

PerfectForms makes it as easy as possible to design online forms and workflows without having to know how to program. It’s available in the cloud or as an on-premises installation, and in addition to its intuitive user interface, PerfectForms allows you to create mobile-friendly forms. It makes it easy to bring end-users into the design process too. In short, PerfectForms makes your online forms perform exactly as you need them to. Did you know you can try PerfectForms for free? Sign up for a trial and find out for yourself what form software should be.

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