Forms: Best Practices for Schools & Districts
You can use Forms to create forms and surveys for admissions applications, permissions slips, sports waivers, and more. Here's a quick guide to help you get started and to create forms that are easily understood and concise.
Planning an online form
A couple of things to consider before getting started:
Sensitive information: Never request social security numbers, credit card numbers or other sensitive information with online forms. Keep this data offline, if possible.
Paper vs digital forms: Paper forms tend to have multiple input fields on one line. It follows the natural writing style we're all used to. With websites, creating a more vertical form makes more sense. A single question and field per line makes it simpler for your users to fill out on screens of all sizes and avoids having to scroll to the right to answer questions, especially on mobile.
Building your form
Some helpful tips for creating your forms:
Required fields: Consider carefully before making a field required. If you are collecting information about a student's siblings, for example, don't make those fields required (not everyone has a sibling). When creating an anonymous form, like for reporting bullying, offer a space for the author to leave their name but make sure it's optional.
Types of buttons: We offer radio buttons, checkbox forms, select menus, and text and number fields for gathering responses. For the best readability and usability, here are some useful tips:
- Use radio buttons if you want a user to only select one option, and you have 5 or less options to choose from.
- Use checkboxes if you want a user to select one or more options, and you have 15 or less options to choose from.
- Use select menus if you want a user to select one option, and you have between 6 and 15 options to choose from.
- Use text and number fields if you have more than 15 options to choose from. For example, if you want a user to enter their date of birth, instead of putting a select menu with 31 options for days 1-31 of the month, use a number field instead.
Collecting signatures: Write a statement, such as "I agree to the above terms" or "I certify that the information provided above is accurate" and couple it with a checkbox and short answer input to type their full name.
Rating scales: Be consistent with your rating scales. If Question #1 asks the reader to select between 1 and 5, with 1 being "Extremely Dissatisfied" and 5 being "Extremely Satisfied", use the same scale throughout the form.
Break up your questions with text: Use Insert Text to add an introductory paragraph, headers between questions, delineate groups of questions, or to add additional information or clarifications to questions.
Confirmation pages: Your confirmation page is a great resource for guiding users! Customize the Thank You page people see after submitting the form to highlight any next steps they should take or to send them to a store or online payment page after they fill out the form. To set this up for your form, go to the Advanced form setup page.
Notifications: Want a confirmation email when a form has been submitted? Go to the Advanced form setup page and enter any email addresses you'd like to receive notifications. There's also a checkbox to allow confirmation emails to be sent to the person submitting the form as well.
Testing and tweaking
Testing out your form: Before distributing the link to your new form, take these steps to make sure it's ready for primetime:
- Check out the live form. Go to the main Forms page in the admin site. Find the form you want to share and click on the ... in that row. Select View on public website. The form will open in a new tab or window.
- Review the form, and maybe get a second opinion. Are you collecting everything you need? Is it too long?
- Fill out the form to test it. Are the right fields marked as required? Are the questions clear?
Start collecting responses: Once you create your form, you'll need to distribute the link. First, grab the link to the public form. Go to the Forms page in the admin site, find the form you want to share, and click on the ... in that row. Select View on public website. The form will open in a new tab or window. Copy the URL, then share it however you like:
- Add the link to your Site Navigation (click here for the Site Navigation article)
- Add the link to a Page (such as a "How to Apply" page with instructions)
- Post in a News item
- Add the link to a slide in your homepage Photo Shuffle
- Include it in an email or newsletter
- Post the link to Twitter
- Or all of the above!