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Engage Users via Twitter & Facebook to Increase Form Conversion

FormSmarts allows you to better engage with your user community by adding a social component to your online forms. The assumption with social networks is that a user is more likely to perform an online action such as filling out a form, registering for an event or sign up for a class if she knows that her friend or colleague has already done so.

Online Forms Get Social

For each form, FormSmarts allows you to set up a message template that will be used to post an update to social networks when the form is submitted. The message can incorporate any information entered on the form.

The user’s expectation when filling out online forms is that the information submitted will only be disclosed to the form owner, and you clearly need to ensure you don’t leak personal information (more about this in the last section). We define two types of input fields on a form. Those which will be populated by information which—taken out context—is so general that it can be safely disclosed, and those which should be kept private. In the example below, we deem First Name, City and Country as public, while all other fields are deemed private.

Post a Twitter Update When Online Form Submitted

How to Set Up FormSmarts to Post Twitter Updates

First connect your Twitter account with FormSmarts to allow FormSmarts to post tweets on your behalf. You will be taken to Twitter for authentication and asked to authorize FormSmarts to post updates using your account. You will only need to do this once. Note that FormSmarts will not have access to your Twitter password. Once this is done, Twitter will send you back to FormSmarts.

Next click on Twitter Feed Setup in the Form Details screen of the form builder. Enter a short text using placeholders $1, $2, $3,… where you want the value of the corresponding input field to be inserted. Use $1 for the value of the first input field, $2 for the second, etc., in the order fields appear on the form.

The Online Form Creator's Twitter Setup Screen

Posting Updates to Your Facebook Wall

When someone submits a form, FormSmarts can post an update to your Facebook wall via the Twitter App for Facebook. First set up FormSmarts to post updates to Twitter as described in the previous section, then add the Twitter App to your Facebook page or profile. We will add native support for Facebook if there is demand—please let us know here. (Note: if you ended up here while looking for information on integrating an online form to Facebook, read this).

Respecting the Privacy of User Information

Protecting the information of your users is of paramount importance. When someone submits his information via an online form, he does it with the implicit understanding that his personal information will not be disclosed.

  1. Add a privacy note on the form (like on this demo) to ensure people understand that some none-personal information will be posted to social networks. Say what information will be published.
  2. Make sure you’re using the correct placeholder (e.g. $1, $2,…) in the message template. Remember that $1 will be replaced by the value of the first input field in the order they appear on the form, $2 will be replaced by the value of the second input field, etc.
  3. If you change the order of fields on the form, don’t forget to update the message template with the correct placeholder name.
  4. Always test the form after setting up a Twitter feed or changing field order.

To further prevent the leak of confidential information, FormSmarts will not publish Twitter updates for SSL secure online forms, even if this has been set up through the online form builder.

How to Disable a Twitter Feed

If you no longer want FormSmarts to post a Twitter update when a form is submitted, simply erase the message template in the Twitter Feed Setup screen (pictured above) and save changes.

Posted on December 13th, 2011 in form builder.
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Form Confirmation Page & Redirects

We’ve added two options to complement the default confirmation page that is displayed after a form is submitted. You can now:

  • Redirect users to the Return URL of the form
  • Show a detailed confirmation page where users can choose to receive a confirmation email or download a PDF receipt.

Redirection

Select the redirect option in the Form Details screen of the form builder to automatically redirect users to the Return URL of the form instead of showing them the confirmation page.

This feature allows you, for example, to redirect users to a download URL of your site after they’ve entered their information.

Redirect With Embedded Forms

If you have embedded a form onto your site and set it to redirect to the Return URL, some browsers may load the URL in the iframe that was containing the form. If you want the page to consistently load in the top browser tab/window, follow these instructions.

Note: Do not choose this option if your form includes a payment, as users would be redirected instead of being led the page where they are asked to make the payment.

Detailed Form Confirmation Page

The detailed confirmation page shows a summary of the data submitted and allows form users to:

  • Have a confirmation email sent to them
  • Download a PDF receipt
  • Print a copy of the form data.

Feel free to try this demo.

The form generator allows users to get a PDF or receive an confirmation email

Use the detailed confirmation page whenever you want users to be able to keep a copy/proof of the data they’ve submitted. This feature is only included with Business accounts.

Note: PDF receipts won’t display correctly in non-European languages (Russian, Chinese,…) unless the language is set explicitly with the lang parameter.

Setup Instructions

Set up form confirmation email

Visit the Forms Tab of the form builder and click the icon showing a pen to edit the corresponding form. Towards the bottom of the Form Details screen (pictured above), change the On Submission action to ‘Show summary with print, email & PDF options’.

Posted on October 12th, 2010 in form builder.
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Personalize the Confirmation Message Shown After a Form Submission

FormSmarts allows you to personalize the confirmation message that is displayed after a form has been submitted successfully.

To personalize the confirmation message of a form, visit the Forms tab of the form builder, and click the Edit icon. This feature is only available for Pro and Business accounts.

Default Confirmation Message

Like all messages shown during the form submission process, the default confirmation message is localized. If you change the confirmation message, users will see your personalized message instead of the default confirmation message in their own language.

You can always revert to the default confirmation message by erasing the text in the Personalized Message box.

Links & Formatting

You may insert links in the confirmation message and add basic formatting with this wiki-like syntax.

Posted on April 11th, 2009 in form builder.
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Why Does Submitting a Form Require Two Steps?

Many form processors let visitors submit a form in only one step: users fill in the form, and are done after pressing the submit button. With FormSmarts, there is an extra confirmation step, during which users are invited to review and confirm the information submitted. There are two strong reasons why we added the confirmation step.

The first reason is quality. FormSmarts is typically used for transaction where the information submitted is important. Important because the information collected is intended to be read by humans, rather than machines. Important because this information is often intended to be acted upon.


By allowing users to review and modify their submission, we increase the accuracy of the information you get in the end.

Form users understand that, and it increases their confidence that you value the information they are sending you. Most of times, confirmation will only add a few seconds to the whole transaction.

The second reason is security and usability. Many form submissions are automated, or even manual spamming attempts, known as form spam or comment spam.

When a user presses the submit button, a lot more happens on the server than you may suspect. If we spot a likely spamming attempt, we’ll ask the user to complete one or more tests (e.g. CAPTCHA test) on the confirmation page. But in the same time, the bulk of users will never be asked to waste time on a CAPTCHA test.

Posted on April 23rd, 2008 in form handler.
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Form Processor Upgrade: More Interactivity for Web Form Users and More

We’ll be upgrading at the end of the week some key components of FormSmarts. The changes will affect both form users and form owners.

More Interactivity for Web Form Users

  • form users can modify any invalid data they may have submitted in the same page, rather than having to press the back button
  • form users can modify submitted data even when form data is not cached by the browser, or if JavaScript is disabled
  • we’ve added features to improve the experience of visually-impaired users equipped with screenreaders

Changes in Email Notification of Form Results

  • new email subject format [Form #123] My Form Name #456
  • the first part [Form #123] is fixed so that you can use it to create a filter within your mail client
  • emails now include a unique transaction ID, e.g. #456 that can be used, for example, as an order number for order forms (form users are shown the transaction ID on the confirmation page)
  • whenever your form contains an email field, you can now reply to sender hitting the reply button in your email client
  • because of the previous point, we no longer show your pass-phrase in every email

Posted on April 15th, 2008 in form handler.
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Are Forms Protected by a CAPTCHA?

CAPTCHA challenge image We often get questions asking whether FormSmarts web forms are protected against automated submissions by a CAPTCHA. A CAPTCHA is a challenge-response test used to determine whether the user is human.

Yes, we do use CAPTCHA tests, but not everytime a form is submitted. Instead, the form handler decides each time whether or not to require a CAPTCHA test (and other verifications), based on unobtrusive analysis by our form spam blocker of the information submitted.

This saves time to every one, and reduces form abandonment.

Asking the user to complete a CAPTCHA test for every form submission affects form usability and accessibility.

Posted on January 11th, 2008 in form builder, form spam.
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How Did Comment-Spammers Find My Blog?

Did you ever wonder how comment spammers discovered your blog?

Crawling the Web

One possibility is that the spammer sent out a bot to crawl the web from blog to blog. This requires some infrastructure, and is becoming less effective as more bloggers use some kind of comment spam protection mechanism.

Searching Google

It then becomes more effective for the spammer to simply use Google,
searching for all the pages with the phrase post a comment, but without the terms sign in, register, log in, etc.

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22post+a+comment%22
+-intext%3A%22login%22+-intext%3A%22log+in%22+-intext%3A%22register%22
+-intext%3A%22sign+in%22+-intext%3A%22signin%22+-intext%3A%22sign+up%22
+-intext%3A%22signup%22+-intext%3A%22logged+in

And as an additional benefit, blogs come already sorted by “importance” in the seach results.

Extending the query to restrict results to blogs not using Captchas is left as an exercise to the reader.

What This Means to You

Avoid standard phrases like post a comment on your blog. More creative phrases like Reply to this Post, share your views or letters to the editor may be safer.

Posted on December 12th, 2007 in form spam.
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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.