One of most common things we’re asked for during a development project is the ability for site editors to create online forms. From the ubiquitous ‘contact us’ form to simple ad-hoc polls, customers want to be able to create and publish forms at will and have the responses processed appropriately.
Web forms are a vital function for organisations that need to capture user information and one of the most common website features. But getting your form logic right, not to mention making the experience less painful for time-pushed users, is something of an art.
Sitecore’s Web Forms for Marketers module makes the whole process a lot easier. It’s a joy to use and has become Eduserv’s de facto solution to delivering this functionality. Site editors can use a drag-and-drop interface within the Sitecore Content Editor to create accessible forms quickly and simply. Lots of different field types come out-of-the-box and each can have validation checks assigned to them. Forms can be styled easily with CSS.
There’s also lots of flexibility for handling user responses differently. All forms by default save to a database; responses can then be viewed in the Forms Viewer. Other actions include sending an email to a specified address whenever a form is completed. For better end-user experience, Eduserv developers typically make use of a message queuing system, such as nServiceBus, whenever a separate process, such as sending emails, is invoked. In this way, the form is submitted instantly without the delay that would otherwise occur if the form waited for the process (such as email sending) to complete.
The Web Forms module can be readily extended by developers to allow new field types to be created and custom actions to take place. Eduserv recently created a custom field that implements Google reCaptcha. This is Google’s clever implementation of a CAPTCHA mechanism to minimise the number of forms being submitted by bots.
To sum up, the Web Forms module is powerful, yet simple. Its intuitive interface and programmable extensibility will keep users and developers happy. Eduserv looks forward to test driving the new versions as they get released!
If you’re interested in finding out more about composing effective, usable and accessible forms, here’s some further reading:
- Tips for coding and designing usable web forms
- Web forms for people
- 10 tips for optimising web form submission usability