How to Simplify Form Building with JotForm

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It’s our fault. We were the ones who opened Pandora’s box. The proliferation of good, open source Content Management Systems such as WordPress mean clients can edit their website content without our assistance. Until they attempt to modify a form.

Forms are an integral part of content. You can understand why a client asks “if I can add a heading, why can’t I add an email request box?” The reality is more difficult. Even the most basic form requires development expertise:

  1. Create the form using HTML5 fields.
  2. Develop fallback code for older browsers, e.g. IE9 doesn’t support new HTML5 field types or built-in validation.
  3. Develop validation code both client-side and server-side.
  4. Perhaps create or use custom fields such as map pickers, date handlers, file uploaders, etc.
  5. Implement security measures to ensure spammers cannot hack or use the system.
  6. Send the inquiry data in an email.
  7. Log the data in repository such as a database.
  8. Test the form on a variety of desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
  9. Create custom reports to summarize the inquiry data.
  10. Integrate the system with monitoring, analyics and/or sales systems.

Ironically, the slicker and simpler the user experience, the more development effort is required. Even if you’re happy to proceed, the client will contact you 30 seconds after deployment…

  • “can we add just one more field?”
  • “can you send our CEO a weekly PDF summary of response statistics?”, or
  • “can we output all this data to our CRM system for marketing analysis?”

The simplest forms rapidly mutate into mission-critical monsters.

Even if you find a reasonable form builder plug-in for your CMS, they’re rarely suited to non-technical end users and some custom code will be required to handle data flows and logging.

Fortunately, there’s an easier option…

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