One of the best ways to gather information and data from customers and potential customers alike is through the use of web forms. A form is a group of “fields” in which information can be collected through text input, buttons, and dropdowns from site visitors. Forms are most commonly on contact and registration pages or linked to post-sales messages soliciting product feedback.
Forms are powerful tools because they combine simplicity with structure. The user filling out the form is (hopefully) guided through the process of filling out the form. And the data that is collected is set up in ways that will make it most useful to the business or organization. By reducing friction on both sides of the interaction, forms impart speed and flexibility where other tools are left slow and complicated.
Common Uses of Forms
Forms are familiar to most anyone that spends time online. As mentioned above there are a number of commonly used forms typically found on a website. The most common use of forms is with a standard contact form. Businesses use these forms to collect information from a site visitor that wishes to get in touch with the company. From general inquiries to support requests to asking about exchanging a product, contact forms start the conversation.
Feedback forms are similarly prevalent. These forms give site visitors a chance to offer feedback on a product or service without necessarily expecting a reply. A feedback form may have fewer fields about the customer (name, phone, email address, physical address) in favor of asking for more information about the submitter’s experience with a product, service, or team member.
Registration forms are another common use case for forms. Forms can help a new patient checking-in at a doctor’s office just as they can help a business executive register for an upcoming webinar. Forms are a great way to streamline registrations for both the individual registering and the back office responsible for noting their presence or attendance.
Forms Can Do So Much More
If forms only ever managed to help with contact information, feedback, and registrations then they would be one of the more powerful tools available online. But that only scratches the surface of what forms can do. Powerful API integrations allow forms to kickoff workflows that can extend into enterprise levels.
Take an employee wishing to submit a vacation request. For a small business, this might be done through pen and paper, literally documenting the request and having it passed through the office from department to department until it is approved or denied. For a large business, a vacation request might require many clicks in a complex (and expensive) ERP system. A simple form, however, could make this workflow more efficient for both parties.
The employees could submit a vacation request form, setting off a series of events that routes the information to the right supervisor for approval and then returns the approval to the employee while also notating their file in human resources. All made possible through a form and an API.
Forms can also make customer intake a breeze even when the intake is cumbersome by design. Consider a daycare, where various state regulations require many forms that must be filled out by parents/guardians before their child can attend. Some of these forms ask for the same information as other forms, requiring parents to reenter information they have already provided. And once the forms are filled out via PDF and returned to the daycare, someone in the back office must transfer the information into the daycare’s system by hand.
With a web form, this cumbersome process can be streamlined for both the parents and the daycare. Information can be filled out one time and in an intuitive way. Parents no longer have to shuffle through countless forms that ask many of the same questions. Daycare operators no longer have to worry about pages being lost or data not properly being transferred to their system or to the state. And, the data can be transferred into a fillable PDF to satisfy licensing requirements.
Introduction to Gravity Forms
To leverage the power of forms, from their most basic to the most complex, it is critical to have a tool in your toolbox to handle the heavy lifting. True, you can engineer a form from scratch but there are fewer and fewer reasons to do so. The rise in open-source software has brought with it literally hundreds of available form options. Some are tailored to software engineers and web developers with significant technical expertise. Some are tailored to those with almost no technical experience or aptitude. And some are built for both groups, offering a wide range of capabilities without needless complexity.
Gravity Forms is one such tool built for both developers and site owners will little technical skills. Built specifically for WordPress, Gravity Forms offers a simple drag and drop interface for creating forms. There are more than thirty ready-to-use form fields and built-in options for conditional logic so that forms can guide and be guided by the information shared by the user.
Gravity Forms also integrates with tools like Zapier and Hubspot to allow for workflow creation and system integration even if you are not a developer. Linking forms to other tools like Slack or a CRM via Zapier gives even the most modest organization access to powerful automation and system integration.
Additional Benefits of Using Gravity Forms
The Gravity Forms ecosystem
Gravity Forms is supported by hundreds of additional extensions and add-ons that make it a powerhouse for WordPress developers looking to harness the full potential of form integrations. From connecting to Excel to tying into proprietary ERP systems via API, Gravity Forms is a foundational tool that makes almost anything possible when it comes to forms.
Part of the power of Gravity Forms comes from the community of developers creating add-ons and extensions. Open-source software relies on the community to develop not just the core software but also to create new and useful add-ons, modules, plugins, and applications. The Gravity Forms community is vibrant and active, giving users of all skill levels additional tools that can expand the possibilities of their Gravity Forms utilization.
Gravity Forms has been a leading choice of WordPress developers for years. This means that if you need assistance with Gravity Forms, you won’t have to look very far to find a development team with extensive experience working with the software. From freelancers to full-service agencies, a number of skilled developers feel right at home working with Gravity Forms.
When compared to other forms available like NinjaForms or Formstack, it is often access to engineers that can make the difference. Each of those tools, and many others, provide quality software. But your success may come down to being able to find a knowledgeable engineer when you need one.
Potential Pitfalls and Challenges When Using Gravity Forms
If you or your developers are considering using Gravity Forms, it is important to acknowledge that there are some potential pitfalls and speedbumps to avoid. While all good software can create leverage and value, that same software can become a huge headache if used improperly.
First, it is critical to remember that as with anything technical, there is a learning curve when using Gravity Forms. Depending on your own aptitude and experience, as well as the complexity of your goals for a particular form, it is possible that Gravity Forms will be too complicated for you to use.
Despite a friendly-user interface and a lot of done-for-you templates, it would be ill-advised to think Gravity Forms will do all the work for you when putting together a complex form. Just be aware that if your goal is complex (like connecting to a proprietary data system via API), you might be faced with a project that requires some technical know-how.
Next, the conditional logic that gives Gravity Forms so much power can get complicated. Conceptualizing what should happen after something else happens is one thing. Mapping it out with mouse clicks followed by testing the workflow is another thing entirely. Implementing conditional logic requires problem-solving skills and patience and can be challenging.
Finally, using forms and creating workflows to replace processes and tasks is a great way to use software to apply leverage to your business. However, you cannot “wing it” or have a lot of spontaneous variability in processes.
When using software like Gravity Forms for workflows, you have to standardize the entire process. Skipping a step or leaving something out because an employee usually handles a task manually will lead to certain failure.
Finding an Experienced Gravity Forms Agency
Gravity Forms development and implementation are some of our specialties at Bet Hannon Business Websites. Our team has worked with Gravity Forms for years and is an expert not just in Gravity Forms itself, but also in integrating Gravity Forms via API’s and Zapier to other systems.
Whether your organization is large or small, the possibilities unlocked with Gravity Forms are significant. We would enjoy the chance to learn how you are using forms now and explore what else is possible for your organization by using Gravity Forms.
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