We use forms all the time: when we sign up to a newsletter, when we book tickets online, when we fill out personal details on an application form. Forms are used by businesses to collect information and enable the smooth running of important business processes.
But how many businesses take a step back and ask: “How can we improve the way we design our forms?”
In this post, we will look at how improving SharePoint form design—how your forms function, as well as look and feel—can result in better customer experience, less confusion and smoother processes.
Using Forms: What, Why and How?
First things first, what exactly do we mean when we talk about forms?
A form is simply a way for your business to collect information from your employees or your customers.
Businesses might want to collect information for multiple reasons. They might be using it externally on their website to collect information from visitors so that they can transform leads into sales. But forms are also used internally to help businesses function.
At its most basic level, a form needs to:
- include all the required fields (e.g. name, address, D.O.B)
- be easy to understand
- be clearly labeled
Think about filling out an expenses report, for example. Businesses can provide a form for an employee to register all the costs they accrued on a trip abroad, for instance. This information is recorded, saved and automatically stored in the right place so that it can be processed by Finance and the employee receives the money they are due.
Another example might be an engineer conducting a site check.
While looking around and inspecting the state of the infrastructure and equipment, they record and report their findings by filling out a form. Forms make it easy to collect all this information, save it in the right place, and ensure nothing is forgotten. All the engineer has to do is click a few buttons and their site check report is immediately stored on their SharePoint site.
People often get stuck thinking of forms as just being simple processes without considering how they can tweak SharePoint form design to improve its capabilities. We can put this down, partly, to SharePoint.
SharePoint gives its users the ability to create forms, yet there are limitations to what your forms can accomplish.
SharePoint Form Design and its Limitations
SharePoint forms are fine for simple processes. SharePoint out-of-the-box lets you utilize a set of default forms that consist of a few basic fields. You can play around with the order of the fields, attach files and add calculations. For many people, this is sufficient for what they require. For instance, our first example of the expenses form would be possible to do simply using SharePoint forms.
The problem with SharePoint is that it doesn’t allow you to do more. For businesses looking to adopt more complex and demanding forms, SharePoint limits what you can achieve.
Microsoft has provided SharePoint Designer, which adds more scope to what your forms can do and can be used to improve SharePoint form design. For instance, you can add text and graphics to your forms and customize the layout.
However, there are other options such as Nintex Forms that can add even more depth and functionality to your forms, including the integration with complex workflow processes.
Using Nintex Forms for SharePoint
With Nintex Forms, creating new forms couldn’t be easier, as there’s no need for any coding knowledge. Anyone can make a form quickly and easily with a drag and drop designer.
What’s more, it allows full customisation of your forms. Apply advanced logic and business rules so your forms carry out all your business requirements.
Nintex Forms can be installed directly into your SharePoint environment so that you can create, automate and maintain new forms there and then. It works on any device so that you can capture critical data out-in-the-field online and offline. Nintex Forms also provides the capabilities to include geolocation data, anonymous submissions and authenticate using digital signatures.
But where it gets really exciting is its integration with Nintex Workflow. By integrating fully with Nintex Workflow, you can use forms to trigger workflow processes.
If we take the example of the engineer we looked at earlier, we can see how this can really make a difference to your business.
When the engineer is doing his rounds of the site, he can take note of anything that isn’t up to standard and the form can trigger a workflow process so that these problems can be rectified. For instance, if there is a safety issue with a lift shaft, the engineer can fill in the form to make a note of the danger. This then automatically triggers an email that notifies everyone of this danger and sets up a visit from someone who can fix it, meaning the problem gets solved much faster.
Now, that really is amazing.
Nintex Workflows help thousands of organizations worldwide to speed up tasks and boost productivity. Click here to get your free, 30-day trial today!