How Notes Can Help You Manage Form Entries

Notes help you keep track of what you need to do about a form entry. When you access an entry on FormSmarts, notes are listed alongside the information submitted.

Notes are especially useful for accounts with multiple users. A note is associated with the person who posted it and all users can see all notes, so notes allow a conversation between users centered around the form entry.

Note on a Form Entry

Who Can Benefit from Notes?

Customers who needs to process or review form responses one by one (e.g. application forms, order forms) can benefit from using notes to:

  • Record a decision that was made about an entry and keep track of how a decision was reached
  • Highlight elements that require further consideration
  • Record the status of an application (“Pending Ann’s agreement.”) or registration (“Paid check, deposited today.”)
  • Support a discussion between users about a form entry.

Even when form responses usually don’t need to be reviewed individually like with registration forms, notes can help document exceptions and incidents like “Chargeback after credit card was stolen. Paid by bank transfer.” or “Attendee changed to Jeanette Bowman”.

How to View Notes & Annotate a Form Entry

There are several ways to access a form entry online:

  • Click the View online & add notes link in the email notification FormSmarts sends you when a form is submitted
  • Use the links in the right-most column of Excel reports
  • Scan the QR code from a confirmation email or PDF receipt provided by a customer.

Who Can Add Notes?

All users, both the account owner and invited users in the same account can add notes. If a forms was set up to send submissions to more than one person, a separate user should be created for each receiver so they can log in to FormSmarts and post comments.

  • The account owner can create notes, edit their own notes, and delete anyone’s notes
  • Invited users who were given access to individual entries pertaining to a given form can add notes and edit their own notes (and delete them provided they have write permission).

Closing Notes…

  • Notes have keyboard shortcuts: Create a note with Alt + C, save it in the editor with Shift + Enter.
  • If an entry is deleted, all notes associated with it are also removed.

Changing the Color of Form Buttons

The latest version of the Form Builder now allows FormSmarts members to change the color of buttons on their online forms.

Layout and Colors Tab of the Form Details Screen of the Form Builder

The Buttons Color setting only applies to forms embedded on customers websites. Standalone forms accessed via their FormSmarts.com or f8s.co URL use a standard color scheme.

The color of buttons can only be changed on the current version of our forms. If you’re still using the old one, you probably shouldn’t. The current version is more secure and offers a better user experience. Please update your site.

Like most customizations, this functionality requires at least a Starter account.

As part of this form builder update, we slightly reorganized how information is presented in the Form Details screen illustrated above. The form layout and color settings that were in the Basics tab in earlier versions have been moved to a new Layout & Colors tab.

When Should You Export Forms to Native Excel instead of CSV?

FormSmarts allows customers to collect online form submissions on the cloud and download aggregated entries in a format, CSV, which is supported by all spreadsheet applications (including Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers and Apache OpenOffice) and many other data analysis tools. We’ve recently added the option to export form responses to native Excel format (.xlsx) instead of the default CSV for Excel.

Export Form to Excel

The main reason we decided to support the new export format is to solve an issue with phone number fields that may not be displayed correctly when Excel opens a CSV file. The Excel XLSX format also has a few other benefits, but we expect most members to continue using the default CSV format in the foreseeable future. Please read on to find out if and when you would benefit from using the new format.

Benefits of the Excel .xlsx Format

Phone Number Fields

Provided you have set the Allowed Content (data type) of phone input fields to Phone Number, FormSmarts stores phone numbers as character strings rather than numbers to ensure any leading zero is not dropped from phone numbers. Unfortunately, Excel interprets character strings that only contain digits as numbers, thus removing leading zeros. Members who collect phone numbers on their forms, especially in locales where phone numbers may start with a zero (some US states and part of Asia & Europe), should set the Export Format to the Native Excel option in the Report Generator settings, as illustrated above.

If you find out when opening a CSV spreadsheet from FormSmarts that leading zeros were dropped from phone numbers, update the export format and create another report. Provided phone input fields were correctly created as phone number fields, the correct information, with any leading zeros, is stored on FormSmarts. No information was lost, any errors is due to the Excel import process and can be easily fixed by generating a new report after changing the export format.

All settings of the Report Generator but the timezone are kept in your browser, so as long as you use the same browser and allow FormSmarts to store information in your browser, your export preference will be saved from one session to the next.

Form Results with Data in a Non Western-European Language

When a spreadsheet contains data in a language other than English or another Western-European language, customers need to make sure when opening an Excel/CSV report from FormSmarts they select the UTF-8 (Unicode) encoding in Excel’s Import Wizard. The content of the spreadsheet may otherwise not be displayed properly. Alternatively, exporting form entries to a native Excel (.xlsx) spreadsheet removes the need to select the correct text encoding.

Note that FormSmarts stores data with a universal encoding (UTF-8) that supports all languages, so if you find out that a report appears corrupted when opening the spreadsheet, open the file again and select the UTF-8 encoding or switch the export format to Native Excel: no data was lost or corrupted.

Other Benefits

The native Excel format offers a few other benefits and we expect their number to grow in the future:

  • The URLs of form attachments are clickable links
  • The FormSmarts Reference Number (the penultimate column in the spreadsheet) links to the entry on FormSmarts. Use this link to add a note to an entry, check where it was submitted from (IP address, IP location), export it to PDF, print it, delete it and more. As we add more functionality to the page showing individual form entries (like the ability to tag and edit an entry), we expect more and more customers to rely on links in the spreadsheet.

The native Excel format is supported with Business Plus accounts and above.

Personalize the Payment Confirmation Email

FormSmarts now allows customers1 to change the text part of the confirmation email we send to form users once their payment has been confirmed, as highlighted below.

If you use FormSmarts for online event registration forms, edit the confirmation message to remind attendees of the date and time of the event, provide information about the venue location, and ask them to print a copy of the message or have it ready for inspection on their phone on the date of the event.

A confirmation email (e-ticket) is sent upon payment

To edit the confirmation message, log in to the form builder and click/tap the pen icon corresponding to the form you would like to edit, then visit the Submit Actions tab.

You can emphasize a section of the text with bold or italics and you may include links and bullet points. The text can be formatted using the buttons provided or with the same Wiki-like syntax you can use elsewhere on your forms.

Use the Preview button to visualize the formatted output of the message.

As always, we value your feedback about this feature.

Note: If you have verified your site and uploaded the logo of your organization to FormSmarts, it will appear at the top of the message.

1 The confirmation email can only be customized with a Business Plus account or above.

How to Manage Check & Cash Payments

If you’re using our popular payment form feature to collect online payments on your membership and registration forms, chances are that some of your customers will want to pay by check, cash on site or by any other offline payment methods.

FormSmarts helps you manage check and cash payments by showing the total amount due on the printable Summary Page of a form and on the confirmation email and PDF receipt that users can get on that page.

When a form is set to the Summary Page mode, users may:

  • Request a confirmation email
  • Download a PDF receipt
  • Print a copy of the information submitted with the form

Form's summary page, confirmation email and PDF receipt showing the total amount due

As illustrated above, the printout, PDF receipt and confirmation message all include a QR code to help you process payments more reliably and effectively.

Check Payments

  1. Ask users to enclose a printout of the Summary Page with their check
  2. Scan the QR code with any phone or tablet to access the corresponding form entry
  3. Add a note to the form entry to record the check number and update the entry’s payment status

Cash Payments on Site

The Summary Page can also help you manage cash payments by allowing guests to show their confirmation email or PDF receipt (a.k.a. e-ticket) on their phone (or their printed receipt), that staff can scan to update the registration on FormSmarts. Since the amount due also appears in form response notification emails and PDFs, check-in staff can also reconcile e-tickets with the list of notification emails or registration PDFs even if there is no network connectivity.

How to Make an Offline Payment Form

  1. Create an online payment form with fees formatted as documented
  2. When you’re satisfied with the result, make a copy of the form with the Duplicate Form button ( icon) in the Forms Tab of the form builder
  3. Rename the form and set On Submission to “Show summary with print, email & PDF options” in the Submit Actions tab of the Form Details screen.

The Summary Page supports the same payment-related features as payment forms (except those for recurring payments), including discounts and discount codes.

Can I Accept Online & Offline Payments on the Same Form?

One of the benefits of FormSmarts payment integration is that we won’t notify you until the person has paid so you don’t have to check this yourself each time. If you have a form allowing both online and offline payments, you won’t know which customers have paid online, so you’ll have to review each and every form response.

For this reason, we recommend that you create a copy of the form specifically for check payments and use the Summary Page setup described in the previous section, especially if there are several charges and fees on the form. You’ll then only have to track payments for entries pertaining to that form. You can make a copy of a form in a click with the Duplicate Form button in the upper right-hand corner of the form builder.

Offering a Check Payment Option on an Online Payment Form

If you are making a simple payment form that has a single payment option, you can alternatively include a check payment option on the form using radio buttons or a dropdown list with two options:

Registration Fee ($30 USD)
Registration Fee (pay by check)

If the user doesn’t select the online payment option, FormSmarts will skip the payment step and send you the form entry immediately.

Note that people paying by check won’t receive any confirmation email.

How to Make a Membership Form

Did you know you can offer paid memberships through a simple online form?

If you thought offering online memberships was challenging because it involved a recurring payment each year (or month), you’d be wrong. Making a membership or subscription form with FormSmarts is (almost) as easy as making a one-time payment form.

Creating a Recurring Membership Form with FormSmarts

Recurring membership form

What Is a Recurring Membership?

Before discussing how to make a membership form, let’s first define what a membership is: A member of an organization or membership site may take part in the activities or otherwise claim the benefits exclusively offered by the organization or site to its members during the period of time covered by the membership (one year or month or any other period of time) by paying a membership fee. To remain an active member after the initial period of time, a member needs to pay again. Because most members want renew their membership, membership fees tend to be recurring payments.

When someone signs up for a recurring payment, also called subscription, they agree to be charged a fee at the time they subscribe and again after each period of time specified — until they cancel their membership.

How Can I Make a Recurring Membership Form?

The short answer is: simply by writing “Recurring Membership ($100 USD/year)” on a form. FormSmarts will understand that the person filling out the form should be charged US$100 each year for a membership called “Recurring Membership”.

Like with other types of payment forms, you may add a recurring fee to a form in a radio button option, check box, drop-down list option or text block.

FormSmarts supports the following recurring periods and (optional) number of installments:

Recurring Period

  • Recurring Monthly Subscription ($15 USD/month)
  • Recurring 6-Month Membership ($60 USD/6 months)
  • Recurring Yearly Membership ($100 USD/year)
  • options: day(s), week(s), month(s), year(s)

Recurring Times/Number of Installments

  • Quarterly Subscription (4 x $20 USD/3 months)
  • Optional, if Recurring Times is not specified, the recurring payment runs until it is canceled
  • Think of Recurring Times (4 in this case) as a number of installments

Multiple Recurring Fees

You may allow users to select more than one recurring fee on a form like on the membership form shown on the screenshot above (feel free to try the demo), but all fees must then have the same Recurring Period and Recurring Times.

When someone selects multiple fees, FormSmarts will charge them each time for the total amount.

If a form has multiple recurring fees, all of them must have the same Recurring Period and Recurring Times.

Offering a Trial Period

Many membership sites offer new members a trial period allowing them to access the site at a low or no cost before having to pay the full membership fee. A fee with terms (i.e. Recurring Period and Recurring Times) different from the first recurring fee listed on a form is interpreted by FormSmarts as a trial period. Our membership form demo has a trial period.

Integration with Other FormSmarts Features

A Form Entry with Associated Payments

  • If cloud storage is enabled, the details of a membership and all associated payments are listed on FormSmarts on the page corresponding to the initial form entry. A link is provided in every email notification.
  • FormSmarts sends a confirmation email to the subscriber after each successful payment
  • FormSmarts notifies the account owner when a recurring payment is received

How to Create a Recurring Donation Form

Recurring donation form

FormSmarts has long supported one-time donations as part of a dedicated donation form, together with other fees on a registration form, or even on a form using our SuperCart shopping cart.

We are pleased to announce that FormSmarts now also supports recurring donations. A recurring donation allows a contributor to sign up for a donation plan to give the same amount at regular intervals, typically every month or year.

Creating a Recurring Donation Form

  • Add a text box with the field name formatted as My Donation ($ USD/month)
  • Set the field’s Allowed Content (aka. data type) to Number
  • In the Form Details screen of the form builder, set the On Submission option to Integrate with PayPal using advanced integration.

FormSmarts supports the following variations:

Recurring Period

  • Cause Description ($ USD/month)
  • Cause Description ($ USD/2 weeks)
  • options: day(s), week(s), month(s), year(s)

Recurring Times

  • Cause Description (12 x $ USD/month)
  • Think of Recurring Times (12 in this case) as a number of installments
  • If Recurring Times is not specified, the recurring donation runs until it is canceled

Contribution to Multiple Causes

As illustrated on the screenshot above and in this demo, you may add multiple donation boxes to a form to give contributors the opportunity to choose the causes they wish to donate to and allow them to contribute to several causes in a single donation. In the example above, the donor is signing up to give a total of $300 each month; with $200 to support Project A and $100 going towards Projects B.

When several donation boxes are added to a form, all of them must have the same Recurring Period and Recurring Times.

Introducing the New SuperCart Shopping Cart

We’ve completely redesigned the user interface of our SuperCart shopping cart to provide a more refined and intuitive user experience.

SuperCart: form with a minimized view of the shopping cart
Minimized view of the shopping cart

What Is SuperCart?

SuperCart is FormSmarts’ shopping cart.

SuperCart allows a user to submit multiple payment forms — each with one or more priced items on it — and pay for all of them at the end.

A typical use case for SuperCart is to allow a customer to register an open-ended number of guests for an event:

  1. The customer first enters the information of the first participant and chooses the relevant registration options.
  2. Once the customer has submitted the form, all fees and priced options are listed in the shopping cart. In the example below, the registration options for the first guest include two fees: Standard Registration and Lunch & Dinner.
  3. The customer is presented with two choices on the confirmation page: Continue Shopping or Proceed to Payment
  4. He can submit the form again as many time as needed to register more participants
  5. Once done, he can pay for all registrations
SuperCart: form with an expanded view of the shopping cart
Expanded view of the shopping cart

Please try our SuperCart demo and give us feedback.

How to Create a SuperCart Form

Building a SuperCart form is easy:

  1. Create a form with fees formatted like on any FormSmarts payment form.
  2. Set the Return URL of the form to the FormSmarts.com URL given by the form builder. If you prefer to embed the form onto your site (which we don’t recommend with SuperCart), use instead the URL of the page where the form is embedded.
  3. In the Form Details screen of the form builder, set the On Submission option to Integrate with PayPal using SuperCart.

If you haven’t already done so, remember to set up your PayPal account for payment integration.

Advanced Use Cases

Multiple Forms

Most users set up SuperCart to allow their customers to submit one specific form (e.g. registration form for event A) multiple times to register multiple participants, as presented in the scenario above.

SuperCart however allows different forms within the same cart. This would allow, for example, members of an organization to:

  • Buy or renew their membership
  • then register for a first event
  • then register for a second event
  • then pay for the total amount.

And of course, what works for one member works for several…

Donations

SuperCart also supports donations.

Discounts

Flat discounts and discount codes are supported, but percentage discounts are not.

Notes

The new shopping cart is only available with the latest generation of FormSmarts forms. If you’re still using an older version, please update your site now.

Give Feedback

Please share your thoughts and feedback about the shopping cart. Post a comment or let us know on Twitter @FormSmarts or Facebook.

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 since March 1, 2016, 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 Current
  • 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.

Introducing Private Forms

Many FormSmarts members use our online forms within their organization, team or with external collaborators. With Private Forms, customers can now restrict who can submit a form to authorized users and identify the person who submitted each form entry.

Private Form

Unlike other FormSmarts forms, a Private Form:

  • can only be accessed and submitted by a user attached to the form owner’s account (find out how to add users to your FormSmarts account)
  • each form entry is associated with the user who submitted it, who’s username is displayed in the email notification, PDF, online and Excel report.

Please try out this demo with the following login info:

  • Account Alias: formsmarts_demo
  • Email: demo@syronex.com
  • Password: <5RUh02K

« Older Entries

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.