If you have studied computers at all over the past 30 years, you are familiar with the phrase, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Of course, the concept is much broader than just computer programming. After all, if you use poor quality ingredients in a great recipe, you can’t expect the same results as if you had used high-quality ingredients.
In short, the value of your organization’s data collections is only as good as the quality of the data itself. Was the data obtained in appropriate ways? Did anyone screen it for outliers and obvious mistakes? Is the data up to date? Data hygiene is a general term referring to how useful your data is. Maximum usefulness comes from data that is complete, accurate, up-to-date, and formatted correctly. Data hygiene makes a measurable difference in the usefulness of online forms.
Data Quality from Manually Completed Forms
With manually completed, paper forms, there are far more chances for mistakes. The user could misread an instruction and write the wrong information into a blank. They may have poor quality handwriting, so that when someone tries to take the data and enter it into a spreadsheet or database, they enter it wrong. Data on manually completed forms is also subject to smudges and other types of damage, as well as loss of the form altogether. It’s easy to see why data written by hand onto paper forms is not “clean.”
Why Online Forms Naturally Increase Data Hygiene
Online forms eliminate several of the data quality issues inherent in manual forms that are completed by hand. Handwriting is no longer an issue, and no longer does someone have to read and interpret handwritten information and enter it into a database or spreadsheet, introducing many more interfaces where errors can creep in. In fact, with the right online form software, the data entered into online forms can be made to go directly to a depository of some kind, such as a spreadsheet, without having to be handled by another party at all. This won’t eliminate all data errors, but it makes a significant difference compared to data from handwritten forms.
Additional Steps for Ensuring Purity of Form Data
Form software may include other data safety measures that ensure high data quality. For example, some form software allows form creators to specify the format of input into a form field. Those rules might be quite general, for example allowing someone to enter numbers, but not letters into a blank. Or they might be more specific, specifying, say, that a phone number must be entered in a XXX-XXX-XXXX format before the form will accept it.
Rules can also be implemented to check for outliers. Suppose a form has a blank for a measurement in feet, and the user enters a measurement in inches. The form can be made to recognize the possibility of an error having been made, and prompt the user to review data before proceeding.
The Right Form Software Makes All the Difference
Not all form software delivers the high quality online forms you need. PerfectForms is form software that is powerful and flexible enough to allow non-technical users to create fully-customized online forms with the possibility of several types of backstops to prevent data errors from getting in. Form field labels can be customized to be highly specific (“Enter your phone number, starting with area code”), to only allow certain types of data, and to check against normal data value ranges to flag potential errors before they are entered.
The data you collect with the online forms you create with PerfectForms can be hygienic enough that you’re confident that the processes that use the data will perform as expected. Data quality is of greater importance than many people realize, and when companies go the extra mile to ensure good data hygiene, they can gain a competitive advantage over companies that don’t.
We invite you to read through some of our extensive PerfectForms case studies. See for yourself how PerfectForms assists businesses and other organizations across a wide range of industries in becoming faster, more accurate, and more competitive.
Coworking spaces are shared workspaces that offer amenities to the self-employed and to telecommuters. A coworking space can be an excellent alternative to a home office, offering features like private meeting rooms, clerical services, and office equipment. Some charge daily fees, while others have memberships and monthly fees.
Users of coworking spaces tend to thrive there, gaining a feeling that their work is meaningful, that they have more control over their job, and that they’re part of a community rather than being just another isolated telecommuter with a home office. The level of socialization in coworking spaces is comparable to that in ordinary office environments, with some users naturally socializing more than others.
Organization Vital to Making It Look Easy
The best coworking spaces offer a well-designed work environment and a well-curated selection of workspace services. While on the surface it might seem easy – rent some office space and sublet chunks of it on a daily or monthly basis – in reality, it takes smart workflows to keep a coworking space operating smoothly.
Perhaps a certain number of desks are set aside for daily “drop-ins,” while others are reserved in advance. If there are private meeting rooms for clients to use, they will need to be scheduled to prevent usage conflicts. And shared office equipment, like copiers and fax machines, have to be stocked, maintained, and occasionally repaired. The right workflow tools can make all the difference between a haphazardly run space and one that is inviting, predictable, and productive.
How Coworking Spaces Succeed
Whether a coworking space is carved out from a company that has some extra office space to sublet, or whether space is solely devoted to coworking, companies that offer it tend to have multiple income streams to turn a profit. Typically, they earn revenue through coworking memberships, service fees for things like basic secretarial services, and by holding workshops and classes.
Each of these income streams should be managed with a workflow designer that is flexible and powerful, yet easy to use. For example, workflow designer software could be used to create the forms and workflows necessary for users to reserve space and pay for it. It could also be used to create workflows for planning and executing workshops, or forms and workflows related to requesting and delivering administrative services.
Don’t Forget About Scaling Your Own Team
One thing the successful coworking space tends to forget about is the fact that as space becomes more popular to freelancers, self-employed, and telecommuters who use it, running the space competently will require additional personnel. Workflows help companies offering coworking space to manage their own staff optimally, which helps improve the experience of everyone involved. Workflows for scheduling administrative workers, managing equipment upkeep, and signing up for special rooms or services can help tremendously as a coworking space grows more popular.
Helpful Workflows for Managing Coworking Spaces
Here are some ideas for workflows you can create with your workflow tools to help your coworking space operate smoothly:
- Locker assignment for coworking space users to store personal items
- Sign-up for workshops or seminars
- Reservations for daily, weekly, or monthly usage of space
- Request for clerical services like faxing, mailing, or basic data entry
- User sign-up for niceties like who brings coffee which day
- User surveys to ensure their needs are met
- Online membership application and processing
Currently there are over 7,000 providers of coworking spaces around the world, and that number is growing. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing real estate sub-sectors, with specialties like niche communities, multiple locations, and concierge services. But running a coworking space requires exquisite organization and attention to detail, which typically requires the use of form creator software. PerfectForms is the workflow form creation software that allows non-technical professionals to create custom forms and workflows that can be adapted to practically any business use, including membership applications, room reservations, surveys, and service requests. The workflow tools provided by PerfectForms allow optimal management of coworking spaces so they serve users while generating revenue and minimizing waste. What’s more, you can try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a free trial. See for yourself how easy it is to create the workflows you need to make perfection look easy.
Putting important forms online is one of the most significant steps you can take to improve productivity in the workplace. When your team members can access, complete, and submit forms online, your organization saves time, resources, and frustration because online forms are fast, paperless, and less prone to mistakes than paper forms.
But before you put forms online it’s important to take steps to make sure they work as they’re supposed to. Before putting forms online, you should take these essential steps to help ensure a successful launch.
1. Ensure Online Forms Are Fully Functional
If forms don’t work, clearly you have some changes to make. Do forms appear and look like you expect when an end-user clicks on the link to them? If your online forms have drop-down menus, do they fit on the screen, and are they functional? Are there any problems placing the screen cursor in the correct blank? People are used to using online forms, and they expect them to be problem-free from the start.
2. Assess Whether End-Users Have Consistent Experiences
Have end-users access forms in different operating environments. If you’re making forms mobile-friendly, be sure to thoroughly test them on the devices your employees or customers will be using. Check that forms are accessible, look as expected, and work for Windows, Android, and iOS environments at a minimum. Ensure your mobile-friendly forms don’t require excessive amounts of data entry by keyboard, or provide an auto-fill capability to speed things along.
3. Ensure Forms Are Submitted Correctly
When someone completes a form and submits it, does the intended recipient receive it right away? Are copies sent to people who require them? Many companies create forms that issue auto-alerts upon submission, so that if someone’s action or approval is required, they are notified instantly via email. Ensure that auto-alerts go out as expected, and that the people who are supposed to receive them do.
4. Make Sure Security Is Maintained
Different forms will require different security levels, and before putting forms online you have to make certain security is maintained. Do your online forms use HTTPS sessions and 128-bit encryption with all client-server interactions? If you use custom keys as a security layer, do they operate as intended? It’s also important to maintain security from the side of the application program interface (API) so that only authorized people can modify forms.
5. Check for Surprises
Particularly if your online forms are part of a multi-step workflow, you should test the workflow from end to end, using all applicable operating system environments. Though it stands to reason that if every step individually works as expected there shouldn’t be problems with the workflow as a whole, nonetheless it’s wise to test the entire workflow before launching it online and make sure there are no unpleasant surprises.
Having the right Online Form Builder software can mean the difference between successful testing of online forms and workflows, and running into problems. PerfectForms is software for online forms and workflows that is designed for non-technical users. Thus, it allows the very people who will use a form or workflow to influence its design, without the need for programming. PerfectForms is also made to interact with databases, spreadsheets, web forms, and other software with ease, so you can create automated workflows without hiring a programmer.
With PerfectForms, users drag and drop form elements into place using an intuitive user interface. Electronic forms can be made to look identical to paper forms, including colors, fonts, sizes, and logos, so end-users will know right away how to complete them. Once you put a few forms online, you’ll quickly realize how much more efficient it makes work processes and will undoubtedly think of new ways to incorporate online forms and workflows into your business processes. We encourage you to read some of our case studies so you can see the many ways businesses use PerfectForms to increase productivity while reducing resource consumption and preventing frustration.
Creative projects are like any other projects in several ways. There are goals, deadlines, and deliverables, and teams hope to learn something during the execution of the project that can make the next project better. An outstanding creative project manager has the same basic skills as any other project manager, plus a certain amount of creativity him or herself.
Effective creative project management encourages, rather than stifles, creativity.
The project manager who gets results and who people want to work with doesn’t make up deadlines from thin air and doesn’t pad schedules beyond the necessary “chaos margin” required with any project. A great project manager is also honest, a strong communicator, and a builder of relationships within project teams, as well as with clients, management, and other key people.
An outstanding project manager doesn’t proceed with the sole aim of checking off boxes, but adjusts as necessary, just as the great chef is prepared to do each time an ingredient is added to a recipe. The goal ultimately isn’t to use this amount of that ingredient, but to end up with a spectacular dish. Sometimes that requires adjustments along the way.
Creative Projects Require Creative Project Management
Trying to force a creative project into the same project management paradigm as, say, an engineering project is a sure way to end up with disillusioned creatives and a mediocre product. Some creative types balk at the mere concept of project management, but when project management itself is accomplished with creativity, it has the effect of better taking care of prerequisites, administrative tasks, and status updates so the creative team can focus more fully on accomplishing creative things.
Online Forms Don’t Replace Communication, but Enhance It
Successful completion of any project requires clear communication. Tools like online forms make communication better. Say you need brief status updates from your graphics lead and your chief copywriter at the end of each day. Don’t rely on sticky notes, voicemail messages, or a few words exchanged as you leave at night.
A simple online form (see Online Form Templates provided by PerfectForms) asking for a quick summary of what was accomplished today (“Finished recording the voice-over for the promotional video”) and what’s on tap for tomorrow (“Post-production will edit in the voice-over with the music”) keeps everyone moving forward while keeping all relevant parties informed and ready to take action when needed. These updates also create a record of exactly what has been done when, so any questions about it later can be answered easily.
Simple, custom forms can improve team communication tremendously.
Workflow Solutions Should Be Designed to Enable Collaboration
Project management that’s opaque and hidden from the people actually doing the work is at cross purposes with effective collaboration. But, when all key people have up-to-date visibility into the project at any given time, collaboration is much more natural. Suppose a photographer is waiting on a new logo to be printed. If he can peer into the project management workflow and discover that the printer is scheduled to deliver the print this afternoon, he can plan tomorrow’s work session better. In fact, he could ask to receive an automatically triggered notification as soon as the print is delivered. And remember: the bigger the project, the more important collaboration is. Make sure your online forms and workflow solutions encourage, rather than discourage, collaboration.
Insist on These Features in Your Online Forms Software
To successfully manage creative projects, your online forms software should be powerful, flexible, and intuitive to use. When this is so, Workflow Applications are more easily developed to meet the exact needs of the project. Online form software should allow creation of Electronic Survey Forms and workflows without the need for programming. Users should be able to drag and drop form or workflow elements into place so the steps of the project are clear. The addition of automatic submission of completed forms, triggered notifications of people whose action is needed, and creation of an audit trail saves time and builds documentation at every step. And, if a project report is required after completion, your software should have reporting tools that make report generation simple and powerful.
Creative project management is an active rather than passive endeavor, and it requires a degree of creativity. With workflow solutions wrought by powerful online form creation software like PerfectForms, managing creative projects is effective and efficient. An intuitive, drag-and-drop interface, easy implementation of automated submissions and notifications, the ability to create audit trails, and powerful reporting features, PerfectForms is the ideal solution for managing creative projects. Watch the PerfectForms demo and imagine the countless possibilities for your creative projects.
Security with paper forms is fairly straightforward: You lock them up in a filing cabinet, or in a vault with limited access. But straightforward doesn’t always mean ideal, and it’s easy to see the many security risks that the use of paper forms entails. For example, forms that should have been locked up could be left out on someone’s desk, or could fall into unauthorized hands with no trail leading back to them.
Yet some companies are concerned that using online forms, particularly with cloud-hosted workflow software, presents security risks. Truthfully, however, security measures with online forms can be more comprehensive and easier to document, so organizations can demonstrate compliance with company, industry, or governmental security regulations while being confident in their security.
SSL Encryption and Custom Keys
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security and custom encryption keys are two essential security protocols you should insist upon when choosing workflow software. Encrypting the software’s communication channels using SSL can prevent any number of attacks, and when software allows “white list validated” user input, even more nefarious uses are prevented. Make sure your workflow software uses HTTPS sessions with 128-bit encryption for all client-server interactions. Custom keys are an additional security layer. Each user session has its own custom key for each request, along with a unique response key. Each key is custom-generated and used only one time to protect against hacks known as automated load attacks.
Security with Cloud Workflow Software
It’s only natural that anyone considering cloud-hosted workflow software is concerned about security. The provider’s servers must be protected via firewall to prevent data compromise, and they should ensure that servers are updated whenever a patch is available. Another security measure you should ask about with cloud-hosted online forms and workflow software is whether the provider uses load balancers. This rotates servers in and out of service regularly so that servers exhibiting unexpected behavior can be isolated quickly and taken out of service while the problem is diagnosed. Ask also about whether the provider’s back end servers are designed to respond only to requests from authenticated users.
The Importance of Audit Trails
Certain industries, like healthcare and finance, are subject to regulations on top of those that other businesses must comply with, and the security features of your workflow software can help here, too. You should be able to design the creation of audit trails into your workflows so that you can demonstrate compliance with all regulations, and so, if irregularities do occur, tracing them to the exact step and user in a process is easy. Even companies that aren’t bound by governmental regulations like HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley often choose to create audit trails for internal security purposes and reduction of exposure to liability.
Sometimes Cloud Security Measures Aren’t Sufficient
Some organizations, for whatever reasons, are unwilling or unable to use cloud-hosted software for their online forms and workflows. For example, a law firm may not want to use cloud-hosted software if cases detailed in various forms and documents are potentially worth large amounts of money. Online forms are still possible if the workflow software is installed on the premises on local servers. This allows the convenience, accuracy, and space-savings of online forms plus physical security of the servers. Not all online forms and workflow software providers offer users the choice between cloud and on-premises software. Those that do can be excellent choices, because going from on-site servers to the cloud (or vice versa) is a future option should needs change.
PerfectForms offers its users the choice of cloud-hosted or on-site installation so specific security needs are met impeccably. Our cloud-hosted software features SSL encryption, white list-validated user input, and 128-bit encryption of all communication between clients and servers. PerfectForms’ web servers are firewall protected, and patches are faithfully applied whenever necessary.Roll-back mechanisms are in place, providing additional security. Finally, load balancers ensure users have continuous service, even if some servers must undergo maintenance.
All these security features come with software designed for the non-technical user, with a drag-drop interface for creating electronic forms and workflows with ease. Sound promising? You can try PerfectForms for free and experience for yourself how easy it is to enjoy fast, secure online forms and workflows. See our gallery for online form templates to choose from now!
If you’re still using paper forms and haven’t tried online forms, what are you waiting for? If you enjoy having physical control over paper forms for security reasons, you should know that security with online forms can exceed that of the paper documents that you lock up in file cabinets. Unless you enjoy having mountains of paper in the office, online forms are far more preferable, if for no other reason than they free up space.
Paper forms are expensive in terms of supplies, time, and space.
What’s more, online forms are superior for workflow management, because they can be linked, routed, and acted upon without ever handling or using paper and pen. Here are six remarkable benefits of using online forms.
1. Less Stress on Your IT Team
One reason many businesses stick with manual processes and paper is because their IT team is always busy and they think that automated forms and workflows require a major programming initiative. That’s not the case at all, if you choose the right workflow management software. In fact, involvement of your IT team can be very minimal if you choose a cloud-hosted solution. You create automated forms and workflows, and they can focus upon the bigger fish they have to fry.
2. Quick Development and Deployment
Since you can now create online forms and automated workflows without the help of the IT department, you don’t have to wait weeks or months to roll out your new workflow management system. There’s no programming required if you choose the right provider, which means you can roll out online forms the same day you make them, and automated workflows take hours or days, not weeks.
3. Easier Compliance and Demonstration Thereof
Excellent workflow management can incorporate audit trails and other failsafe mechanisms to ensure compliance where there are company, industry, or governmental regulations. Companies that don’t currently use audit trails and other safeguards may decide that, since they’re so easy to include in automated workflows, they should add them for the extra peace of mind and ease of reporting they facilitate.
4. Lower Operating Costs
Paper and ink are expensive. Not only must they be purchased, they must be disposed of when no longer needed. In between, papers need to be filed properly and stored. Filing cabinets take up a lot of space. That’s space you must either sacrifice at the cost of other offices and cubicles, or extra space you have to lease. Use online forms, however, and paper and ink costs plummet while filing cabinets become all but obsolete.
The savings from automating a single widely used form can be significant.
5. More Efficient Work Processes
It’s no mystery why automated workflow management is more efficient. Any step that can be completed online and doesn’t involve physically handing off a piece of paper is going to be more efficient than an offline process that involves hand-delivery. And electronic forms won’t get lost, damaged, altered, or be buried under a pile of detritus on someone’s desk. Try automating just one form and learn for yourself how much time it saves.
6. Visibility into Workflows
It’s hard to assess the status of manual workflows. You put a completed form in someone’s inbox, but have they looked at it? Is it going to be kicked back for revision? You won’t find out without some time-consuming phone calls. And if it’s been handed off to someone else, you have to track them down to find out how far the workflow has progressed. Electronic forms and workflows, however, allow complete visibility from end to end.
PerfectForms is an award-winning provider of online form and workflow management software. It has an intuitive drag-and-drop interface so there’s no programming required. You can automate anything from a single form to the most complicated workflow, and you can make forms and workflows interact with web pages, databases, and other electronic documents. If you’re curious about what PerfectForms can do in terms of quick development, lower operating costs, and efficiency, we encourage you to browse some of our case studies so you can see just how big a positive difference PerfectForms makes.
Customizable electronic forms are terrific for accelerating workflows, but if you run an e-commerce business, they can be put to work collecting important data and putting it to valuable use as well. That’s right: the same customizable forms software you use to create expense reimbursement forms for employees can be used to gather valuable data from your website, whether you operate a B2B or B2C business.
Customizable business forms can be put to work on your website, gathering important customer and lead data, and it can do things with that data that provide insights while preventing duplication of effort (such as re-entering data into a database). Here are five advantages of handling data via customizable form creation software.
1. Customizable Forms Assist with Brand Identification
You want your entire website to reflect your brand. That includes the forms that customers or interested parties fill out while on your site. With the right customizable forms software, you can utilize your colors, fonts, logos, and graphics so that they harmonize with the rest of your site and reflect your brand. The ultimate effect is strengthening your brand presence online, particularly if your forms are well-designed and don’t demand too much from site visitors.
2. Integration With Third-Party Apps Helps You Evaluate Leads
Suppose you ask people to register for your e-newsletter or complete a form to download an eBook from your site. The information they enter can be invaluable. Now, suppose your customizable forms software integrates with third-party apps, like your CRM, automatically populating your CRM with the data collected from your web forms. Not only does your CRM grow by itself, but no one has to collect form data and enter it into the CRM. The time saved is time that can be spent evaluating leads and serving customers.
3. Notifications Can Be Specifically Targeted
Automated email notifications can be helpful, as long as they’re delivered judiciously. If everyone is notified about every little thing, people eventually stop “seeing” all those notifications piled up in their inbox, thus defeating the purpose. With customizable electronic forms, automated notifications can be specially targeted so they go only to selected recipients and are distributed only when that person’s input is required. Overwhelming and unmanageable email notifications can become a thing of the past.
4. Data Can Be Automatically Funneled into Databases
Perhaps, in addition to your CRM system, you have other databases for other purposes. Customizable electronic forms can be made to automatically send data collected from forms into the fields of your other databases. If you’ve been having someone enter data manually, this step can be automated, eliminating data entry errors. Another advantage to having form data automatically sent to databases is that you can be confident of the consistency of data from one source to another because formats and spellings will automatically be the same.
5. Your Forms Can Collect Exactly the Data You Need
Website visitors don’t want to give away any more information than necessary. They want to feel that what they get in return for their information is valuable. It’s not always easy to strike the right balance in terms of what data you request. With customizable forms, you can A/B test to determine which forms perform best, and you can fine-tune your forms so that they collect just enough information for your needs without discouraging site visitors by asking for too much. The flexibility of customizable forms makes them the ideal choice for your website.
PerfectForms is software that empowers you to create customizable electronic forms without having to write programming code. By simply dragging and dropping form elements into place on a virtual canvas, you can create forms that collect exactly what you need and that reflect your organization’s branding consistently throughout your website. PerfectForms integrates with third-party apps and databases, cutting down on data entry tasks and helping to ensure consistency of data across repositories. Best of all, you can try PerfectForms for free and see for yourself how easy it is to create powerful custom forms that serve your needs impeccably.
It won’t be long until we’re in the thick of the Rio 2016 Olympics, where gymnasts, divers, equestrians, and others will demonstrate their outstanding form in front of a worldwide audience. Even in a rarefied atmosphere like the Olympics, “perfect” form is rare, though it has happened occasionally.
Have you ever thought about whether the online forms you use for business are perfect? What does it even mean for a form to be perfect? The criteria are obviously different than they are for Olympic sports, but knowing what to aim for can help us create better, more useful, and more efficient forms. Here are some of the attributes of today’s perfect form.
It Is Easy on the Eyes
The early years of the web were one big eyesore in many ways. Web pages represented a new canvas, and people threw everything they had at them, often without regard to whether it made sense. We have learned that web forms need to be aesthetically pleasing if they are to encourage site visitors to fill them out. They should be uncluttered, have a color, branding, and font scheme in keeping with the rest of the website, and it should be obvious to the user what information goes in which form field.
It Is Clear and Not Confusing
Have you ever filled in a form with, say, your phone number only to discover when you try to submit your form that you entered it in the “wrong” format? Perfect online forms offer users cues about what format to use, or present form fields with the parentheses and hyphens already present so that formatting is obvious. Moreover, fields should be large enough so that field labels are easy to read. The form should not appear cluttered or haphazard. In other words, users should see a form, conclude it doesn’t look like a “chore,” and happily fill it out.
It Offers Features that Increase Efficiency
There are other things you can do to make forms more efficient. For example, mandatory fields should be clearly marked and, if a user misses one, he or she should not have to start over filling out the entire form again before submitting it. Some fields might include drop-down menus so that completed forms can be easily sorted by the information entered (such as the user’s industry). If a user has completed other forms on your site, auto-populate features can eliminate the need to retype the same information in subsequent forms.
It “Nails the Landing”
Perfect online forms make clear to the user what will happen upon completion, either with a clear headline, or a submission button that says what will happen (“Download my eBook”). Once the form has been completed and submitted, it “nails the landing” by thanking the user and by delivering what was promised when the user elected to complete the form. Online forms can be made to trigger email alerts when someone’s attention is required and can use the data entered in company databases, CRM systems, and other systems to prevent the need for manual data entry.
Perfect online forms, in other words, make the completion process as intuitive and friction-free as possible. Just as Olympic athletes train, practice, and fine-tune to achieve perfection, the right online forms software lets you A/B test easily and fine-tune your forms so that you get maximum user engagement and collect data that allows your organization to serve its customers optimally.
PerfectForms is the clear gold medalist when it comes to online forms. It allows nontechnical users to create pixel-perfect online forms with a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface. The data collected by the forms created in PerfectForms can interface with third-party applications and databases so that duplication of data entry (or even copying and pasting) is a thing of the past. Because PerfectForms is so easy to use, you won’t shy away from A/B testing web forms to learn which combination of headline, form fields, colors, sizes, and call-to-action buttons engage users most fully.
PerfectForms is flexible and powerful enough to be used across industries, and easy enough to use that you’ll be creating perfect online forms in no time. We invite you to watch our demo so you can see how easy, flexible, and powerful PerfectForms is.
Online forms are practically mandatory for any company that does business online. The problem is, most people don’t like filling out forms. If they’re going to spend time completing an online form, they want the payoff to be worth it. But there are many things you can do to engage people and encourage them to fill out your online forms.
Before creating an online form, you need to define your goals for it. For example, do you want more conversions, less of a burden on your phone support, or sign-ups for an event? After you define what you want your online form to accomplish, design it to support that goal.
Length of Online Forms Depends on Your Goals
Conventional wisdom is that people prefer shorter forms and, for the most part, this is true. However, there are scenarios when lengthier forms are better suited to your goals. Suppose you have plenty of leads, but many of them are of low quality. If you want higher quality leads, and are willing to trade off quantity for quality, a longer, more involved form will help weed out visitors who are only passing through. You will reach leads that are “warmer” or further along in their investigative process. Whatever its length, no form should have unnecessary fields, which simply means fields that provide data that your company will not use.
Assure Visitors of Their Data Privacy
Some people won’t complete a form if it’s unaccompanied by a statement assuring them their data won’t be shared or sold. Make sure such a statement is easy to find on any web page where you ask visitors to fill out forms. It should not be written in terms only a lawyer would understand. A brief statement that simply says something like, “We never share or sell your personal information,” is often sufficient. It’s better to have this at the top of the page than “below the fold.” Neither should it be a part of the fine print. If you are going to make a bold statement, make it a bold statement.
Branding and Placement of Online Forms Make a Difference
Your online forms should harmonize with your brand in terms of colors, graphics, logos, and fonts. People may wonder if they’ve been sent to another site altogether if they encounter a generic form that gives no indication that your company created it. Where you place the form is important too. Make it easy to find, preferably at or near the top of the page. Don’t ask visitors to fill out a form, then require them to scroll all the way down the page to find it. Many won’t stay engaged long enough to follow through.
Your Call to Action Should Say Something Other Than “Submit”
Your call to action button should ideally give visitors an indication of what will happen once they click. A button that simply says “Submit” or “Click Here” doesn’t do this, but one that says, “Download my free eBook” does. If your call to action button doesn’t indicate what the user gets for his or her information, they’re typically more skeptical about clicking. Some form designers choose to use their form’s headline as a call to action, and then use a simple, yet dynamic, call to action button that says something like, “Go!” (Using “Submit” indicates a lack of imagination.)
Test and Measure Results to Improve Engagement with Online Forms
The great thing about online forms is that you can modify them easily when you discover something that helps or hinders user engagement. In fact, many companies elect to A/B test forms, where one aspect of a form is varied at a time to determine which combination of headline, form fields, and call to action button gets the best results. Sometimes hunches about these things are wrong, so it’s important to actually test variations on your forms to know for sure what works best.
Creating online forms is easy for the non-technical user with PerfectForms. With built-in web form integration, it’s no problem to create awesome, custom online forms that entice readers to complete and submit. All you have to do is drag and drop form elements into place on a virtual canvas, and it’s easy to add whatever branding, color, font, or logo choices you want so your forms echo your branding. PerfectForms is flexible enough to create any type of online form and easy enough that you don’t have to understand programming to use it effectively. We invite you to watch our demo and see how easy it can be to create pixel-perfect online forms with PerfectForms.
Consider for a moment the physical concept of momentum. Something with a lot of mass doesn’t need a lot of speed to have a lot of momentum. Likewise, something with plenty of velocity doesn’t have to be big to have a lot of momentum. Companies tend to grow, and as they grow, they tend to slow down. After all, they don’t have to have the alacrity and speed they used to have to keep the momentum going.
A problem occurs when another business disrupts the industry. Often, when this happens, velocity trumps size – at least for a while. Larger, well-established companies can be nimble and light on their feet, if they’re not afraid of innovation and change. Questioning the long-held beliefs that hold up the dominant business model in an industry can be the beginning of greater dexterity and a renewed sense of mission and purpose. If your organization lacks flexibility, workflow automation may likely be the key to becoming more adroit and able to tackle whatever challenges the marketplace wants to toss your way. Here’s how.
Embrace Innovations in Customer Relationships
Expectations for customer service have changed significantly in the past decade. No longer satisfied to dial a toll-free number and wait for the next available agent, today’s customer wants to reach out via social media, as well as their favorite brands’ websites. The great news is, workflow automation can be used to take in customer service information and requests and instantly and automatically deliver them to the appropriate recipient. Less time is spent typing what a customer is saying over the phone, so more time can be spent getting to the heart of the matter and solving the problem.
Activities Can Be Intelligent as Well as Efficient
Suppose you have a split purchase request process where purchase requests of more than a certain dollar amount must go through additional approval steps. Smart workflow solutions make this easy by using the dollar amount of the request to determine which approval process is to be used. Furthermore, the request can be automatically forwarded to the correct approving authority or authorities so no time is wasted reading a paper form, determining who it should go to, and then delivering it by hand. Another reason workflow automation is “smart” is that it’s far less prone to errors than manual processes involving paper forms.
Managing Resources Effectively Can Free Up Capital
Have you ever purchased, say, a kitchen gadget only to get home and find that you already had one? A similar thing happens to businesses. Nobody knows about the unused laptops in HR’s storage room, so someone orders a batch of new laptops for the summer interns. Workflow automation allows organizations to keep track of assets like tools and computers, as well as to whom they’re assigned, their repair history, and many other pertinent details. It’s one of the best ways to prevent unnecessary expenditures and ensure resources are distributed optimally. Can your existing workflow solutions do this quickly, automatically, and without error?
How Can Technology Help You Innovate Costs?
Workflow solutions save companies money too. Take only a handful of paper forms and make them electronic and you immediately start saving in terms of paper, ink, and printing costs. Create workflows that automatically route those electronic forms upon submission, and you save considerable time as well. Workflow automation can prevent careless errors, like losing or damaging a form and having to start all over again. Customer requests won’t get lost, purchase orders won’t mysteriously disappear from the approval cycle, and the IT department can do away with all those sticky notes they use to record IT requests.
Your company may be established, and it may be large, but that doesn’t mean it has to be “entrenched,” or “unwieldy.” With workflow automation, processes prone to bottlenecks can become unstuck, and inefficient processes can be revamped to cut out unnecessary steps and save money and time. PerfectForms is the ideal workflow automation solution because it allows non-technical people to create pixel-perfect electronic forms and workflows with a friendly, drag-and-drop canvas interface. No major IT projects have to be funded, and innovations can roll out quickly. You can try PerfectForms for free, too. You’ll quickly discover workflow solutions that will immediately start making your organization more adept and skillful.