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11 Tips for Creating Top-Notch Web Forms

Web forms offer a user-friendly way to collect accurate data. You can be sure it’s 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 digital form. Your staff gets an email when a form has been submitted and has visibility into automated workflows that put the data to work and kick off the next step in the process.
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Web forms eliminate:

  • Time spent filing and retrieving paper forms
  • Manual data entry
  • The challenge of deciphering messy 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

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

Why do you need web forms in your organization?Form on computer with green check mark (1)

DocuWare customers use modern web forms for everything from onboarding to contract management and order processes. DocuWare Forms enhance the efficiency of any business activity that involves collecting information from employees, customers and other outside sources.  Using online forms has even more impact when they’re combined with automated workflows and integration with line-of-business applications.
Here are  just a few examples: 

Pace yourself: employee engagement for newbies

At a manufacturing firm, a new employee fills out one online form and the data populates a W2, benefits enrollment, IT request and other employment forms.
The onboarding process includes industry-related training to be completed in the first four weeks of employment. Each week, new employees receive a form with links to online courses and other new employee information specific to that week. They complete the courses and take a test. Their score is recorded on a web form. HR receives a notification on whether each weekly assignment is complete, so they can follow up as necessary.

Effective treatment for contract approval headaches

Contract approval is complex at a multi-site hotel and casino group, owned and operated by a Native American community. 
Some contracts need a sign-off from an outside governing body and some do not. Before DocuWare Forms, contracts were processed at a central office resulting in lost time figuring out which approvals were needed. Now a staff member from the initiating department uses an online form to index the contract and define how it should be routed for approval.iStock-963811500 (1)

Faster order turnaround

At a leasing company, all sales personnel bring tablets when visiting a customer site. They enter customer contact information, the lease term, and products ordered. The customer signs the electronic form. Then this authorization kicks off a workflow that notifies the warehouse that equipment should be shipped. The sales team is no longer traveling back and forth to the office with paperwork. And turnaround time from order to delivery was reduced from 2-3 weeks to 4 days.

Ready access to information reassures employees and retirees 

A pension plan’s participant website uses DocuWare Forms to give employees and retirees more control over their personal information and reduce administrative costs. 
Users go online to enroll, change their profile information or the bank where their pensions are paid. Employees can get information about what their pension would be if they retired today or in five years on demand. When digital form data is changed, it is also updated in the pension plan’s back-end system.

Build a better web form

Screenshot_FormsDesginer7_ENEasily and quickly create new forms with DocuWare Forms' intuitive editor

Now that you have a good grasp of the advantages of eforms, here are 11 best practices to start you on your way.

1.  Don’t just reproduce a paper form electronically. Take the time to fully define the form's specifications and goals.  Make sure you know what data is needed, who the users are, and all the business processes tied to the information that the form collects.

With a web form, you can 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.

2.  Provide clear instructions. Explain the purpose of the form simply and briefly. No one wants to waste time reading large blocks of text. 

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3.  Only ask for information that applies to each step. Providing context is important to make sure users understand why you need the information. However, if the form is long, break it down into sections so that it’s not overwhelming.

4.  Use autofill whenever you can. If you’ve already collected information, pre-fill those fields or don’t show them at all.

5.  Apply 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.

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6.  Use field masks to make sure information is submitted in the right place, in the right format. For example, the phone number field can be set up so that it can only contain numbers 0 to 9, or a name field can only be completed by using alphabetical characters.
Field masks help the user fill out forms correctly the first time. The form is not submitted until the inputs match the mask definitions.
7.  Conditional fields are your friend. Built-in intelligence can control actions and direct form completion based on the data a user enters. For example, if you answer “yes” to a question, the form provides related details. If you answer “no,” the conditional fields do not appear to clutter screen real estate.
8.  Get familiar with your form creation software’s special features. Radio buttons, checkboxes, dropdowns, calendar inputs, and file uploads enable precise and secure information capture. Text box fields give users the option to provide open-ended answers.
9.  Optimize your forms for mobile use. You don’t want your users to have to pinch and swipe to get the form to be viewable on their smartphone screens. Your form should be responsive and function properly on any mobile device.
10.  Use automated workflow to generate email reminders and task lists. Then you can notify staff when a completed form is sent to them for review or approval. Web forms also structure data, so that the information can kick off a business process.
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11.  Say thank you! Include a message that politely confirms the form has been successfully completed. The message can also contain next steps.
Join thousands of DocuWare customers who now use convenient, standardized, web forms in place of outdated paper documents, hard-to-navigate PDFs, and error-prone manual data entry. To find out more, request a demo.

Eforms for today’s remote workforce: How to streamline data capture and save time processing your forms

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