Archive for July, 2008

Date Type & Datepicker

Datepicker

Anyone using a standard text field for dates should upgrade to the new date type.

Fields with the date type show as a text box, with a datepicker poping up when the field is selected. A datepicker allows users to input dates in an intuitive and interactive way, therefore reducing the risk of errors.

Date Format

Another reason for using a datepicker is to alleviate the date format problem. Because of date formatting differences, 12/07/2008 means December 7th in the U.S., but July 12th in Europe. Although we initially thought of adopting the ISO/W3C date format “yyyy-mm-dd”, we eventually preferred the U.S. format “mm/dd/yyyy”. That is, until we release an internationalized version of FormSmarts.

Because users don’t interact directly with the text field (unless they want to), but rather with the datepicker, they don’t have to be aware of date formatting issues.
To avoid any misunderstandings, dates are displayed as Sunday July 20, 2008.

Any questions or comments? Leave a reply. We are in particular interested in feedback from non U.S. users.

Geolocalized Country Selection Field

We’re going to add over the week-end two new input field types: country, and date. You should upgrade any web forms currently using a standard text field for country or date to the new types.

When to Use the Country Type

Choose the country type whenever you want to show on a form a dropdown list with the 280 odd ISO country names.

Visitor Country Selected by Default

A country list field is typically used to ask the visitor about his/her country of residence. You’ve certainly already experienced the frustration of having to search for your country in a long list each time you fill out a form. At FormSmarts, we want to save time to everyone, so the visitor’s country is automatically selected by default.
That way, users only have to change the selection if the question asks them about a country different from their country of residence. For example, “Where did you travel last time you went abroad?”

Reducing the time needed to fill a form helps reduce form abandonment.

Any questions or comments? Leave a reply.

P.S. We’ll present the date type in another post.

What’s the Return URL of a Form?

When creating a new form with FormSmarts Form Builder, you’re asked to provide a return URL for that form. The return URL is where visitors will be automatically redirected to or invited to go to (by clicking a link) after a successful form submission.

We also use return URLs to compute the list of websites in Settings > Websites.

If you don’t have a web page, simply use “http://formsmarts.com” as the return URL.

Return URL & Form Ownership

To prevent abuse, the link to the return URL is only displayed on the confirmation page if the form owner is verified or is a FormSmarts Pro or FormSmarts Business user. Visit the Settings tab of your account to verify your sites.

Redirecting Visitors to a Page of Your Site

You can set up a form to skip the Confirmation page and automatically redirect the visitor to the form’s Return URL. Note that the visitor will then not get the FormSmarts Reference Number of the transaction. Redirection can be activated in the Form Details screen of the form builder, under On Submission. FormSmarts Pro and Business customers only.

For security reasons, browsers won’t redirect users from a secure HTTPS page to non-secure content. So when a form is embedded onto an HTTPS site, the return URL should also use HTTPS.

PayPal Landing Page for Forms Including a Payment

If you use our PayPal form feature to add a payment to your form, the Return URL will be used as the PayPal landing page. Users will be redirected to that page by PayPal after the payment has been completed.

Form Color Settings

Like many FormSmarts users, you may sometimes want to customize the style of your web forms. This may be because you want the forms to match the rest of your website, or because you want a form to stand out on a web page.

The form builder allows you to easily change the text and background color of your forms. Visit the Form Details screen in the Forms tab to set color preferences for a particular form.

Web Form Color Selection

Things to note:

  • color settings only affect embedded forms, not forms access by their FormSmarts URL
  • because your color settings are stored in our servers, you can change settings and see the result immediately. You don’t need to update the form embed code on your website.

How to Change Form Colors

  1. By default, form text is black, and form background is transparent. This should fit the needs of most users, and if you’re happy with this, you don’t need to do anything.
  2. If you do want to change a color, the easiest way is to choose one of the popular colors we’ve preselected. Just click on the color you want.
  3. If you prefer to use your own colors, you may type any valid 6-digit HTML color code directly. For example, 808080 is a shade of gray.

Usability Note

It’s important to preserve the accessibility of your forms to visually impaired visitors, and their usability under poor reading conditions (e.g. bright sunshine). Always keep a high color contrast.

Advanced Form Customization

You may further customize many visual aspects of a form by providing your own CSS stylesheet. For usability reasons, we don’t recommend dramatically changing the form layout.

Form Owner Verification with Google Page Creator

To verify you own a website, we ask you to create a file with a specific name on your web host. If you use Google Page Creator, proceed as follows to verify your site:

  1. create a new page
  2. enter the verification file name (e.g. syronex8800…2523.html) as the page title
  3. publish the new page

Form ownership verification is optional but recommended to build trust with your visitors. It is required you intend to advertise a web form URL by email.

Recent Issues with Google Page Creator

Although hundreds of Google Page Creator users have successfully verified their site, we’ve had a few issues in the last few days. Google was redirecting some of the requests to googlepages.com to the same page on google.com, thus preventing us to check the verification file exists. We obviously have a limited scope for action, but we identified a likely cause and took technical measures that seem to have solved the problem. Leave a comment if you experience any more problems.

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.