Tuesday Two.Oh! Tools for Building Web Forms.

Tuesday Two.Oh! is not meant as an endorsement, but as an exploration of the tools that are out there. Click at your own risk. 🙂

Today on Tuesday Two.Oh! we’ll take a look at a site that helps you create web forms. I know that a lot of you out there are very good at html, but for those of us who might be a bit….rusty, a site like this will help us to create something that looks good as well as being functional. Let’s take a look at Wufoo.

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Find them on Twitter.

When I was working for NSU I thought a lot about web forms. The librarians there disliked email contact, but I kept thinking that a web form with a report would be a good way to go. I wanted our patrons to be able to go to our site, fill out a form with their research question, and have it counted, sorted and archived as well as answerable. If the questioner fills out a form, it would be easy for a group of librarians to route it to the correct research professional.

Currently, however, I no longer have the need to create an online reference form. We are interested in creating a course reserve request sheet, and that’s what I’ve experimented with while using Wufoo.

Overall, the site was extremely easy to use and navigate. The first thing you might want to concern yourself with if you’re interested is site pricing.

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There is a free account option, but I definitely think that if your institution is interested in using this site, one of the paid accounts would be optimal. Sign up was very simple, with no need to check your email for a confirmation link. Simply fill in the information and you can begin building your web form.

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The site has some humorous qualities, and I enjoyed that as I went through.

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Creating the form was extremely easy. Essentially any user of the site (who doesn’t know CSS) will have a basic template to work off of- and I use the phrase “template” loosely. Essentially, you can create whatever kind of form you would like. The site allows for complete manipulation of page elements. Simply use their drag-and-drop interface and you will have created a unique form. Keep in mind, though, if you choose a free account as I have done, the form has a limited amount of fields that can be entered.

Your choice menu for page elements will look like this:

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Which you drag and drop to get something like this:

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From here you will edit what each element says. This will be where you can add directions for the user if something on your form is a little more complicated than “yes or no.”

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One of the things that I appreciate most about the set up to these elements was the option to require a response from your form-taker. For instance, if we decide to use Wufoo to build a Course Reserve Request sheet, we will require the professor to fill out the course information, because without it the request would not make any sense. So, when submitting an unfinished form, the site would send a pop-up asking that the user finish all required fields, hopefully eliminating error and time spent tracking down this information.

When you have finished adding and editing all of the form elements, save your form. You will get a pop-up that will tell you that your form has saved and that you can either return for more editing, check out the sharing options, or quit. Since I’m interested in sharing my Course Reserve document, I clicked on sharing.

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To share your document in Wufoo, you do actually have a lot of options. From a weblink you can copy/paste into email to embedding code to put it on your website. There are also mobile/emailing options to share your web form.

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Also, you can choose how to receive notifications that your form has been filled out.

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Now we’ll move on to the only part of the site that I found frustrating: adding pizazz to your web form. There is a “themes” tab that you’ll see at the top of your screen, and the creation of a them is easy enough. What I found a little frustrating is figuring out how to apply it. But, first let’s take a look at how to build a theme.

Pick a heading image, which will appear live in the preview screen below.

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Then, choose a background.

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There are a lot of other options you can choose while setting up your theme like “shading” and “highlighting.” I really didn’t mess around with all of that too much, but the set up of your options is pretty straight forward. I enjoyed the creation interface here.

The problem I ran into was trying to figure out how to apply my created whale theme (which I named “Busy Busy Whale) to my already created web form. Luckily this moment of confusion and several minutes spent clicking from my form to my theme lead me to the extremely well put together help wiki.

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Keep in mind, that help screen might only be accessible through your own account setup.

The next step is to get your user to fill out the form. Go ahead and fill mine out if you would like.

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When someone has filled out your form, you will get a notification in whatever form you had chosen previously. You’ll click on the link and head back to your homepage, where it will show that a new response has come in and that you are able to look at it.

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All of the answers:

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Take a look at my finished product here.

In closing, I really do think there is a lot of potential for this site to be used in libraries as well as other business entities. Students might even be able to mold the options here to conduct surveys for classes. I felt that the site was easy to use, and though I did run into some confusion their help page was excellent. And there’s nothing better than a well put together help page.

One drawback that I saw would have to be the limitations of their free account- but they are a business and they are offering a product. When I spoke with my colleague about using this site potentially to solicit course reserve requests we wondered if 100 responses were enough to meet our course reserve demands. In this economy it’s hard to justify a small expense in order to ease life when the “way it works now” does actually work. I’m interested to see how people have been applying this tool. If you use it or have any ideas, I welcome your input.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcomed and encouraged.

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