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Summary:

Web forms can be complicated or they can be easy. For a while now, FormSpring has been in the business of making it easier for those of us who might not have a programming background or the patience to take on the daunting task of coding […]

FormSpringWeb forms can be complicated or they can be easy. For a while now, FormSpring has been in the business of making it easier for those of us who might not have a programming background or the patience to take on the daunting task of coding one from scratch.

FormSpring now has one more feature to recommend it, and it’s a big one for web workers: extensive third-party integrations. Using said integrations, you can now use any form you create in FormSpring with a laundry list of web apps that many readers of this blog will immediately recognize.

I want to take a look first at what FormSpring offers as a forms creation suite, and then go into a little more detail about the new third-party integration feature.

Creating a Form

Making your first form with FormSpring is not very complicated at all. You can start from scratch, use a template, copy an existing form from another web page (ethically questionable?), or upload a pre-existing HTML form. FormSpring’s template list is fairly comprehensive, without being overwhelming, and it’s broken down into categories to make it that much easier to find what you’re looking for.

Screen shot 2009-09-16 at 9.37.33 PMOnce you’ve chosen a type of form, you’re presented with the form editor. The editor’s clean layout gives you a WYSIWYG view of the form you’re building, including preset fields if you chose to start building from a template. Any field can be edited using a convenient pop-up window, where you can customize the field type, size, label and a number of other options. Fields can be dragged and rearranged, and you can add new fields, sections, and extras using a convenient sticky toolbar at the bottom of the editor.

Screen shot 2009-09-17 at 11.33.17 AMForm Extras include options like global layout settings, form progress indicators and saving options for end users, submit button customization and CAPTCHA options. The nice thing about these options is that they exist for people who need them, but if beginner users don’t notice or take advantage of them, it really won’t detract from the quality of their final form.

Using a Form

Having a great form creation engine is great, but it’s all for nothing if you can’t get that form out to the people you want to use it in an easy and effective manner. FormSpring provides you with a number of easy-to-use options for distributing your creations, so that you can target different users in the way you deem best.

Screen shot 2009-09-18 at 12.01.11 PMYou can choose from having FormSpring generate a unique URL at which your form can be reached, embedding the form using JavaScript code or HTML, installing a widget in your TypePad-enabled blog, or using an intermediate form that gathers data from your user before forwarding them to the form you’ve created.

Providing so many options ensures that you can tailor your form distribution strategy to specific target respondents, and also allows users with varying levels of technical expertise to take advantage of what FormSpring has to offer.

Third-party Integrations

As I mentioned earlier, FormSpring recently introduced new third-party integrations that makes it easier to use forms created via the web app, and to use the data gathered with said forms in other popular online applications.

The list of new integrations includes Campaign Monitor, FreshBooks, Google Apps and Salesforce.com, among others. For Campaign Monitor, integration allows you to add subscribers from your forms directly into your email marketing software. FreshBooks integration allows you to create clients, invoices and estimates automatically using data collected with FormSpring forms. Salesforce.com integration means you can make web forms for any Salesforce object, and update existing records using web form data.

Integrations finally allow some of the promise of a web-based information management system to be fully realized. “Synergy” is an old buzzword that’s been stripped of much of its significance over time, but it truly applies here, in a good way.

Let us know your thoughts on FormSpring on the comments.

  1. I’m a fan. Use it at work. Love it and would recommend it to anyone who wants easy form management, and ‘synergy.’ :)

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