10 Tips for Creating Top-Notch Web Forms

Web forms offer a user-friendly way to collect accurate data. You can be sure the data is right because you’ve shifted data entry to the information source. A requesting department member, employee, customer or vendor who has the knowledge to enter the correct information completes the web form. Process owners can then receive a notification when a form has been submitted and have visibility into automated workflows that put the data to work and kick off the next step in the process.

Web forms eliminate:
  • Time spent filing and retrieving paper forms
  • Manual data entry
  • The challenge of deciphering handwriting 
  • Processes being slowed down by forms being held at an employee’s desk
  • Lack of visibility into business processes
  • Difficulty effectively capturing and sharing information with a mobile/remote workforce

Web forms can validate your data. There is built in intelligence to control actions and direct form completion based on the data a user enters. If you answer “yes” to a question, the form gives you more details. If you answer “no,” the conditional fields do not clutter screen real estate. You can also attach supporting documentation to the form.

Do more than replace paper forms consider using a web form to gain control of any process that requires organizing information, routing it to the right people and sharing data with ERP systems or with other applications.

Web forms also structure data, so that the information can automate workflows to kick off a business process.

Find out how the combination of web forms and workflow automation speeds up key processes and increases productivity.Watch the video. See eye-opening 30-minute demo of DocuWare Forms workflow in action

Business processes that can be streamlined with the use of web forms include:

  • Human Resources: Pre-interview Screening, Hiring, Onboarding, Vacation Requests, Performance Reviews
  • Financial Transactions: Accounts Payable and Receivable, Contracts, Loans
  • Operational Services: Purchasing, Order Processing, Receiving Sales
  • Public-facing Communication: Employee, Customer, Vendor, Parent and Student Portals

Build a better web form 

Now that you have a good grasp of the advantages, here are 10 tips for creating high-quality web forms.

      1. Take the time to fully define the form specifications and its goals. Don’t just reproduce a paper form electronically. Make sure you know what data is needed, who the users are, and all the business processes tied to information that the form collects. Conducting a thorough process analysis saves time in the long run. 
      2. Only ask for information that is relevant to each process step. Asking fewer questions in each section, enables focus and speeds form completion. Providing context is important though to make sure users understand why you need the information. If the form is long, break it down into sections, so that it’s not overwhelming.
      3. Use autofill whenever it’s appropriate. If you’ve already collected information, pre-fill those fields or don’t show them at all.
      4. Use real-time validation. Let users know that they’ve made an error while they’re filling out the form, not after it’s been submitted.
      5. Use field masks to make sure that information is submitted in the right place and in the proper format. For example, the phone number field can only contain numbers 0-9 or a name field must be only alphabetical characters. Field masks help the user fill out forms correctly. The form is usually not submitted until the inputs match the mask definitions.
      6. Conditional field behavior is your friend. Show or change fields by using properties such as hidden, write-protected and required. Chose forms creation software with field behavior that is easy to define and configure.
      7. Use radio buttons, checkboxes, dropdowns, calendar inputs, and file uploads to enable precise and secure information capture. Text box fields give users the option to provide details.
      8. More than 75% of American adults own a smart phone, so make sure your forms are optimized for mobile use. You don’t want your users to have to be pinching and swiping to get the form to be viewable on their screen. Your form should be responsive and function properly on any mobile device.
      9. Use automatically generated email reminders and task lists to notify staff when a completed form is sent to them for review or approval.
      10. Say thank you to the user. A thank you message politely confirms the form has been successfully completed. The message can also contain next steps. 

Ready to see web forms and workflow automation in action? Watch the video to see a 30-minute demo.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated for accuracy and new content has been added.

Joan HeadshotJoan Honig is Marketing Content Manager at DocuWare.