Today’s organisations collect a lot of data to run their business and to help make better decisions. This data may be contact information, financial data, feedback, process management and much more. In modern organisations, most of that data ends up in digital format in a database system.
The question is, what is the best method for collecting information? The definition of “best” will depend on a number of factors such as where the data is coming from and how it needs to be structured. In earlier times, the process was simply “please take a seat and fill out this (paper) form”. These days, data collection is largely digital. So you may be handed an iPad or asked to fill out a form on your phone before you arrive.
In this article, we will look at the benefits of using web forms, and the array of options available.
- paper form – printed and filled out with a pen
- electronic form – commonly a PDF document filled out on a computer
- easily updated – change questions or add text, changes available immediately
- easy access – send users a link or provide a QR code
- no stock required – paper forms need to be printed, distributed and stored
- enforce data validation and completeness, and include conditional sections
- data immediately available in systems – no transcriptions
- can be integrated with other workflow processes such as notifications
- usually require an Internet connection
- require a device (computer, tablet, mobile) to access
- can be slow and/or difficult for some users – could be quicker and easier to use a pen
- need technology to create and host web forms, and store data
- The web form needs to be available on a web page and therefore needs all the infrastructure of a web site – domain, hosting, etc.
- Data submitted through the form needs to go somewhere. Basic web forms can send this in an email. But it is far more useful to have this data submitted to a database. This is often something like MySQL and may be provided as part of a web hosting plan. So there may be more to learn about how to configure a database and access the data.
- Gravity Forms – “Powerful data capture fueled by Gravity Forms.”
- HubSpot – “Powerful, not overpowering”
- Jotform – “Powerful forms get it done.”
- Typeform – “Create forms, surveys, and quizzes that people enjoy answering”
- Wufoo – “Easy-to-Use Online Form Builder For Every Organization”
The first iteration of Claris Studio in May 2022 was focussed on the collection of data using web forms from anonymous users. Claris Studio is a relatively new player in the form builder market and it is iterating rapidly adding new features. Frankly, it has a job to catch up with the more established players but, as with some others, it offers more than just web forms. In our next article, we will explore what can be done with Claris Studio forms.