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New Form Design

We’ve updated the design of our forms. The new forms provide a superior user experience on all devices; mobile, desktop and smart TV.

New online form design

How Can I Start Using the New Form Version?

If you’ve joined FormSmarts in the last three months, you are most likely already using the new version. Otherwise you need to migrate your forms to the new version:

  • Visit the Settings Tab of the Form Builder and set Form Version to New
  • Copy the new embed code snippet and update your site
  • If you’re using standalone forms, use the new FormSmarts.com URL provided.

What Do You Think About the New Form Design?

Please share your thoughts and feedback about the new form design. Write a comment to this blog post or let us know on Twitter @FormSmarts or Facebook.

Posted on June 7th, 2016 in online form.
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How to Add a Waiver, Liability Release or Other Agreement to a Form

The Agreement form widget allows you to add a waiver, liability release, agreement, or any other contract (terms & conditions, privacy statement, policy) to a form.

Add a liability release, waiver or other agreement to a form

The Agreement widget is intended to be combined with a required checkbox and an e-signature to capture a person’s consent on an online registration or membership form. Please try this demo.

  • A user can read the agreement inline in a scrollable area
  • The text can be popped out to a larger window and even launched full screen
  • We provide print and download buttons in the pop-up window
  • Agreements are initially limited to 15,000 characters, please contact us if you need more.

Agreements are only available with the new generation of FormSmarts forms. You can set your account to the new forms in the Settings tab of the Form Builder.

Posted on January 22nd, 2016 in form builder.
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How to Add Links and Basic Formatting on a Form & More…

Did you know FormSmarts allows you to include links on a form? You may also use bold, italic and underline for simple formatting.

Can't see this image? You're missing out something great!

Posted on November 28th, 2013 in online form.
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How to Customize the Look of Your Forms with CSS

The online form builder allows you to easily change the layout and colors of your forms when these are embedded into your website. This article discusses how to further customize the look of your online forms by providing your own CSS stylesheet. You can create one (or more) CSS stylesheet for each form.

Disclaimer

The feature discussed in this article is UNOFFICIAL. It is NOT PART OF ANY FORMSMARTS COMMERCIAL OFFERS and we do not provide direct support for it. Feel free to post questions at the bottom of this page. Changing the layout of a form may prevent it to display consistently across browsers.

Verify Your Site & Upload a Logo

To be able to use your own CSS stylesheet, your first need to verify your site and upload a site logo. Uploading a logo creates a website profile on FormSmarts and will allow you to provide your own CSS stylesheet. The logo will be shown on the standalone version of your forms and also on PayPal if you’re using Advanced Payment Integration.

Create a CSS Stylesheet

The CSS code in your stylesheet will be loaded after the default FormSmarts CSS, so any instructions specified in it will override the default. We give a few examples of customizations in the Example section below. More will follow.

Update the Embed Code on Your Site

In the HTML snippet given in the Form Publishing Info screen of the form creator, change the query string portion of the URL from mode=embed&lay=1 to mode=embed&lay=1&style=form.css, where form.css is the path to the CSS file relative to the root of your website. For example, if your website’s URL is http://www.example.com, the CSS file should be at http://www.example.com/form.css.

CSS Styling Examples

Changing the Font and Color of Headings

h2{
font-family:serif;
font-size:14px;
color:orange;	
}

Changing the Layout of a Form to Multiple Columns

Logical sections defined by headings can be made into separate columns using the following CSS code and changing the iframe width accordingly.

#section_1{
width:350px;
float:left;
}
#section_2{
width:350px;
float:right;
}

Online form with multiple columns

Posted on November 21st, 2011 in form builder.
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A Tip to Increase Form Conversion: Use Required Fields Wisely

When creating a form, the form builder allows you to specify whether your want each input field to be required or optional. The meaning of required is obvious: form users will not be able to submit the form unless a value has been entered for each and every required fields. For radio buttons and drop-down lists, that means users will have to explicitly select an option between the ones provided. The decision to make a field required is not to be made lightly, because that could frustrate the user and affect the form’s conversion rate.

Radio Button and Drop-Down List as Required Input Fields

The meaning of optional is more subtle as it is different for text input fields (text boxes, multi-line text areas) on the one hand, and radio buttons and drop-down lists on the other hand. That’s because in the latter case users only have a limited set of options to choose from, and the first option in the list is always selected by default.

In the example illustrated below, we’re building a registration form for an event. The form should accommodate up to two delegates. The first delegate is required, but the second one is optional. It turns out that:

  • The first set of radio buttons or drop-down list should be required.
  • The second set of radio buttons or drop-down list should be optional, with None as the default option.

Required or Optional Radio Button and Drop-Down List in the Form Builder

Because None is selected by default, the form user won’t have to do anything in the most likely scenario where he’s only registering one attendee. This will save him time and frustration, and will statistically increase the form conversion rate and reduce form abandonment.

Posted on April 12th, 2011 in form builder.
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Introducing Form Layouts

We’re pleased to now support two form layouts.

Question (a.k.a. field name) and input field aligned horizontally (default):
Form layout: question and input field aligned
Question and input field aligned vertically:
Form layout: question above input field

Which Layout Should You Use?

Most people find web forms designed with the first layout clearer and easier to read. That’s why we use it by default whenever you create a form.

The best layout to use depends on the length of the questions asked on the form.

  • When a form is made of short questions like name or email address, prefer the first layout. This is what you should use, for example, for contact forms.
  • When the form contains longer questions like Why do you want to work for us?, you should rather use the second layout. It turns out that you should use the second layout for most complex forms like web surveys and job application forms.

How to Change the Layout of a Form

You can change the layout of a form in the form details page. Note that if you’re using a form widget embedded into your site, you must update the HTML code on your site whenever you switch layout.

This is simply because the layout affects the size of the form. Forms accessed by their FormSmarts.com URL don’t have this restriction.

Any Feedback About Form Layouts?

We welcome your feedback about this feature.

Posted on August 14th, 2008 in HTML form.
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How to Lay Out Form Input Fields

Your goal as a web publisher is maximize the number of (legitimate) respondents to your forms. A first step towards this goal is to lay out your forms in a way that is intuitive to users, makes forms faster to fill in, and minimizes form validation errors.

It follows four points you should consider when designing a web form:

  • choose the most appropriate input field widget for the situation
  • group fields together within logical sections
  • place multi-line text input fields (textarea in HTML) towards the bottom of the form
  • group optional fields together at the bottom of the form

The first point is discussed in details in FormSmarts documentation.

The second point commends, for example, that when you ask people about their contact details, you group all relevant fields (first name, last name, email,…) together. We found that most form designers tend to do that right. The form builder will in the future allow users to define different logical (and visual) sections within web forms.

Multi-line text input fields obviously tend to take longer to fill in than other input fields. They require more effort, thinking and typing, so place them after other fields. Visitors will be less inclined to abandon the form altogether if they have already spent time completing the first part of the form.

The last point is about grouping optional fields together at the bottom of the form. This allows people to quickly review the remaining questions, and skip the fields they don’t want to fill in or don’t apply to them. This may of course conflict with grouping fields within logical sections. In that case, place optional fields at the end of each logical section.

We’ve now enabled comments, and we warmly welcome your thoughts and feedback about this post. if you’re reading this by email, just click on the title to post a reply.

Posted on June 29th, 2008 in HTML form.
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Ever Wished You Could Reorder Fields?

The set of form-making operations supported by FormSmarts form builder was up to now almost complete, allowing to:

  • create a form
  • delete a form
  • edit form properties (name, title, return URL, form filling instructions, recipient email account)
  • add a form input field
  • delete a field
  • edit field properties (name, description, field type, input widget, optional/required)

The last unsupported operation was to allow users to easily change the order in which fields appear on a form. This is often needed to:

  • group fields logically
  • group optional fields together at the bottom of a form
  • insert a field in a existing form
  • move fields around to increase the visual appeal of a form

Reordering fields manually is tedious, as it involves deleting and re-creating fields.

No more. Reordering fields is now a trivial drag & drop: in the fields tab, drag the field you want to move, and drop it in the position you want.

As usual, we welcome your comments and suggestions about this feature.

Posted on June 20th, 2008 in form builder.
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How to Embed a Form Into Your Site

Linking or Embedding?

FormSmarts supports two ways to integrate a form into your website or blog: linking and embedding. Embedding lets you place the form on your site alongside other content. Linking gives your form its own separate web page. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Many users think embedding the form into their site gives them more control. That’s far from always being the best option.

Embed a Form When…

  • the web form is short — 10-15 input fields maximum
  • it is self comprehensible and form filling instructions are not needed

Mailing list signup forms and simple contact forms work well embedded.

Link To a Form When…

  • the form is long or complex
  • the form is accessed both by web visitors and via a mailing list
  • the form in intended for a large audience, that may be using a wide range of browsers and devices
  • your audience includes mobile phone users
  • you expect a large number of form submissions

Event registration forms and survey forms may perform better when accessed buy URL on their own page.

  • forms accessed by URL load faster and are more scalable
  • they are statistically more reliable
  • they offer more flexibility
  • there are no sizing issues

A word of wisdom: Resist the temptation to systematically embed web forms on your site for irrational reasons “because it gives you more (apparent) control”. Some web forms perform better on their own page.

Placing the Embedding Code On Your Site


To embed a form into your website, visit the Forms tab, and click Embed to see the form code.

Embed Form

Copy the HTML code, then paste it somewhere in the HTML source of the
host page on your website or blog. If you’re using an online service like Blogger, that’s
all you have to do. Otherwise, you need to publish the page to your web server.

A word of warning: do not try to save the form as an HTML page, and publish that page. This will not work. You must paste the code exactly as given. Do not attempt to alter, remove, or hide the mention “web form by FormSmarts”, or the link to our Privacy Policy. This would be a breach of our Terms of Use, and your account would risk to be terminated without notice.

Changing a Form, Once the Code Is on Your Site

Any changes you make to a form using the form builder will show up straight away on your website. You do not need to update the embedding code. However, as a result of adding more fields, or changing a text box to a larger text area, the frame containing the form may no longer be high enough to fit the form. You will then need to re-publish the embedding code to your site. See the section about Form Sizing below.

Customizing Your Form

You can customize several aspects of your forms in the Form Details screen of your account.

Web Form Sizing

Why Is There Extra Space at the Bottom of the Form?

Forms are contained within an HTML frame (“iframe” for geeks). The frame has a fixed size, which is computed for each form, based on several factors, like the number and type of fields used, and the form layout chosen.
It is necessary to leave room at the bottom of the form for error messages that may need to be displayed during a form submission. That’s the reason for the extra space at the bottom of a form.

Manually Changing the Height or Width of a Form

You can change the size of a web form widget by editing the value of the height and width attributes in the HTML snippet (a.k.a. form embed code) given by the form builder.
We do not recommend changing the height of forms. If you do, remember to allow extra space at the bottom of the form, as discussed in the previous section.
The width of embedded web forms can be resized down to 360px without side-effects, and should degrade well beyond that.

How Do I Get Rid of the Vertical Scrollbar

With time, you may need to add more fields to your forms, but forget to refresh the form HTML code on your site. Since the frame height is hard-coded into the code on your website, the form may no longer fit into the frame, and a vertical scrollbar will then appear. That is not desirable on a usability standpoint, so you are advised to update the code on your site whenever you add new fields, or change a text box to a text area.

Only One Form Per Page

It is against our terms of service to embed more than one form in a single web page.

Embed a Form to a Facebook Fan Page

The easiest way to add a form to a Facebook page is to use the FormSmarts URL that comes with each form. Click on the URL link in the Forms Tab of the form builder to show form URLs instead of embedding code. You may also embed the form into your Facebook page using an FBML Box. See instructions to embed a form to Facebook. Feel free to post your questions in the relevant thread of our forum on FormSmarts’ Facebook page if you need help.

Posted on May 21st, 2008 in HTML form.
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Building Successful Web Forms

Web forms play a key role for visitor (and customer) interaction on many
sites. However, many web designers don’t realize that there may be huge
differences in form abandonment ratio, depending on how well the form is
designed. In this post and follow ups, we’ll give you some tips to help
you make your web forms an effective communication channel.

Always provide form filling instructions.

Don’t assume that all of your visitors will understand how to submit a form without further explanation. Short and clear form filling instructions can reduce form abandonment, and increase the quality of the information collected.

  • include a call to action phrase like “Please fill out this form to
    contact XYZ”
  • indicate the purpose of the form and the recipient of the information collected
  • if applicable, confirm that you will reply, and give an indication of the time frame

Select the correct data type for each input field.

Because of necessary form validation, choosing and incorrect data type may prevent a form user from submitting valid information. When this happens, it is likely to lead to form abandonment.
For example, if you specify that a form field can only contain a Number, it may not work for a phone number. 1233456789 will work, but not 123-345-6789. So use
the Phone type instead. In many cases, the form builder will
pre-select a type for you, but not always. Read
more about selecting an input field data type in the form builder documentation.

Choose the most appropriate input field widget.

Don’t restrict yourself to text boxes and drop-down lists. Take advantage of the full range of HTML form fields with radio buttons and checkboxes. Learn when to use each one.
Using a drop-down list for a yes/no question will slow down the form user, and increase the chances (s)he gives up. Use radio buttons instead. Read tips about choosing the best input field widget in the form builder documentation.

Brand your forms for instant visual recognition.

Always brand your web forms with your own logo. This helps visitors
recognize at first sight who they are about to send information to.

Posted on May 6th, 2008 in HTML form.
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About the Form Builder Blog

The Online Form Builder Blog is published by FormSmarts, a web form service providing all you need to create a form and publish it online in minutes. FormSmarts makes it easy to build a form and embed it on your site. You can then get form submissions by email or store them on FormSmarts and download an Excel report. Learn more about the many other benefits of FormSmarts.