EdWeb forms are here
The new EdWeb forms functionality has just launched. It’s a really powerful tool that can replace not only Polopoly forms but also many forms that currently need to be proxied in.
Over the years, we’ve needed to create many different types of forms across the University, and one of the great challenges I’ve found is getting forms to provide questions based on previous answers. Situations like:
- If a survey answer shows that someone didn’t attend a workshop session, the respondent won’t be asked what they thought of that session.
- When signing up for a mailing list, we can ask only for a UUN for staff members – but still gather more detailed information about people who we don’t already know.
- If someone says they are having problems, they can be given relevant links to help them on their way, without them being overloaded with all this information.
EdWeb forms, in fact, go even further with logic, and allow you to send the email to someone different, depending on the answers. Units can have a single form, which sends enquiries from potential students, current students, international students and staff to a different email address depending on how they’re identified themselves.
An end to using paid services?
At the moment, sites across Polopoly are paying for this kind of service – by either bringing in tech support to build a proxied form or paying for a third party service, like Wufoo. In EdWeb, these forms can become part of the CMS, with answers stored forever within EdWeb, and no ongoing overhead – if it the functionality breaks, it’s up to us to fix it, not up to you.
Creating usable forms
The excellent thing about this kind of logic – which EdWeb refers to as conditionals – is that it really helps to create more usable forms.
Writing and designing forms is an art of its own – we have a copy of Caroline Jarrett and Gerry Gaffney’s book Forms that Work in the office if anyone wants to come and read it. There’s nothing more frustrating for the form designer than a tool that won’t build it as envisaged, and nothing more frustrating to the respondent than seeing questions that don’t apply to them.
Those who have recently attended Writing for the Web will have heard and anecdote we tell called ‘The $300m button’, in which a company made an extra $300 million in profit from one small change to a form.
This goes to show that, in forms as in all web content, content is key. The form is powerful, but only if you do it right. There are also all kinds of data management issues around collecting people’s personal information.
That’s why we’re not automatically giving forms access to all new users. If you want access, simply fill in a form (of course!) that just makes sure you understand the basics.
Remember we’re always on hand to help, about the functionality in EdWeb or the editorial side of creating great forms.