A Web Form can be created and appended to a page in the website when you want to collect information from individuals browsing the site. Forms are distinct from Page Comments, which are optionally enabled to allow posting of viewable comments on the page. Forms are used to collect information that can be used by your staff. Form submissions are not accessible by other users.
Forms can be created to collect information and/or add an individual to a contact group (registration). Typically, sites include “Newsletter Sign Up”, “General Inquiry”, and “Service Request” forms. The form builder tool allows you to create as many forms as required. Once forms are created, they are appended to one or more pages in your site.
Managing forms is done from the “Manage Forms” tab of the Forms area of the Site Administrator. This tab displays existing forms along with a summary of submissions and the frequency of placement on the site. Forms may be modified after they have been published; ShoutCMS manages a version history of each modification. An older version of a form can be reactivated if necessary.
Create a Form
A new form can be created either from scratch or by cloning an existing form. While existing forms can be modified entirely, we don’t recommend doing so because it increases the complexity of managing form submissions. There is no penalty to creating new forms using the “Add Form” option.
A form submission does not create a Contact unless you add the Contact Registration Fieldset to the form (see below). The Contact Registration Fieldset is used to collect Contact information from the submitter and is used to create a Contact and add them to Contact Groups based on the form's design.
Access the Form designer by either clicking on the “Add Form” button or “Modify” or “Clone” hyperlink listed on the right side of an existing form. The form designer will be displayed with existing or blank information:
There are many options associated with configuring the form’s fields. Fields are added through the “Add” button, or removed using the “Remove” button. Once added, the fields can be reordered by clicking and dragging the Up/Down Arrow icon to a different place in the list of fields. Each field has the following attributes:
- Form Name: The form name is used for internal reference. A unique form name that is meaningful to your business should be used to name the form. The name will be included in the subject title of email notifications
- Field Title: The title assigned to the field is used as a prompt when the form is displayed. The length of the prompt should be kept short unless the form is being used to create a survey, in which case the field title is used to hold the survey question.
- Functionality: The field type is selected from the drop-down list of options. Basic controls include text box, text area, date, Captcha, and Content Block/Separator. The other field types involve entering additional information to support the field. E.g. Drop-downs, check-box lists, and radio-button lists option fields must be defined
- Required: Select this check-box if the field is required before the form can be saved. An asterisk is displayed alongside required fields when the form is displayed. Any field can be set as required; the form cannot be saved/submitted until all required fields have been entered. Please note that certain field types such as "Radio Button List" and "Single Choice Dropdown" will default to the first choice in the list unless the user chooses otherwise.
- Advanced Button: the Advanced button shows the export/workflow options for the field. “Column Name” is used to specify the spreadsheet column when exporting form submissions. “Embed Tags” are used to merge the field data in a workflow procedure when "auto-generating" new articles.
When the “Contact Block/Separator” field type is selected, an editor is displayed. The text and other information entered in this area is included in the form as a separator between the forms fields. There are some practical limits to what can be added in the editor while retaining an effective form layout.
Contact Registration Fieldset
“Contact Registration Fieldset” field type is used to capture the name of the person submitting the form and to add this person as a contact to one or more contact groups. The field set automatically captures identifying information about the contact, the specific field depends on which sub-option you select. The detail of information you request to be completed will depend on the nature of the form and the existing relationship you have with the submitting person. Generally asking for too much information reduces the number of form submissions.
Group assignment can be configured to automatically add the form submitter to one or more existing Contact Groups. Forms can use this feature to support lead generation, newsletter subscriptions, or be added to a follow-up group. There are two configurations; the first defines groups that are automatically assigned when the submission is received, the second defines groups to be displayed for the person to optionally join as part of completing the form.
A follow-up “Thank You” email can be configured if required to send an email to the person submitting the form. This option is only available when the Contact Registration Fieldset is selected as a field on the form. Note that the Thank You email is optional and distinct from the thank you message described below.
Creating a Publishable Form
Publishable forms are used when form data is to be published on the public side of your website. Publishable forms are added to the site-tree using the workflow tool that first defines what is to be published as part of the form’s template, and then manages activities when a form is submitted. Configuring this option is somewhat complex so we recommend contacting the Customer Care team.
To activate publish options, open the ‘Advanced Configuration for Workflows’ option set and select the ‘Publish as an Article”. This will open the editor so you can define an Article template that merges submitted data for the form. The template designer is similar to the Page Designer; the Add Embed Tags button is used in the article title and article body to place a merge tag at the current location of the cursor. These tags are dynamically replaced with the text from the form submission data. Other text, graphics, and formatting can be defined in the template using resources from the File/Image manager.
Note: Embed tags are defined for each field in the form; they must be unique and should not include spaces. Images and files uploaded during the form submission are displayed as links only.
Configuring the Thank You Message
A “thank you” screen is displayed after the form has been submitted. The information on this screen is defined in the Thank You message. The message can contain text, images, and hyperlinks.
Notifications are enabled by Adding email recipients to the form’s “who Gets Notified” field. Multiple email addresses can be added as required to support your business needs. When added, the person will receive an email that includes the field data in the body of the email text. The subject line will include the name of the submitted form. Notifications are configured for each form.