It’s 2010 and it's high time that businesses and other organizations put their forms online. I don’t mean just a PDF download - people should be able to complete most forms online too.
In this day and age there is very little reason why anyone should have to print anything out or put a pen to paper when it comes to forms, nor have to fiddle around with PDF forms with funky encoding in a PDF editor.
My frustration with forms you have to download reached a peak after spending 2 hours tussling with a PDF form recently that would have taken 10 minutes if the form had been put online. In other circumstances, I wouldn’t have bothered and the merchant would have lost thousands of dollars of my business, simply through not having the signup process online.
If you really need paper copies of form data, print them out at your end. This idea about needing a “real” signature is just rubbish in most scenarios. An electronic signature *is* a legal signature.
Signatures are easily forged digitally or on paper. Try signing a document “Darth Vader” in an illegible scrawl and unless a check is being done against a drivers license or a credit card, it will pass the sniff test fine. Sometimes it will even if it is compared; that’s how much attention folks pay to this kind of thing.
If it’s good enough that we can spend thousands using credit cards online, then it should be good enough to be able to electronically sign any other type of form that doesn’t require personal sighting and witnessing. Good form implementations will usually provide identification details such as the user's IP should the submission ever come into question.
Technology was meant to create the paperless office. It’s created more paper as we haven’t applied the technology properly.
The tools are there to build online forms of any kind. It’s time we all started using them.
If your HTML editor/web site builder doesn't offer much in terms of form building options, all is not lost - there are many generators available and best of all, you don't need to be a programmer to use them!
Free form builders and online business
There's a stack of free form generators available online that can serve the needs of some businesses; but bear in mind that your visitors and customers will be submitting data via a third party; so you need to be sure that the service provider is trustworthy and secure.
Using a premium or free online form generator and processor service can also leave you high and dry should the company suddenly shut down. For some businesses, a day or two of downtime while you scrabble to find alternative provider can mean the loss of thousands of dollars in sales.
Locally hosted form builder software
Another option is installing a form builder on your own domain. These scripts are usually fairly simple to set up and provide you with a lot more flexibility, plus total control over the sensitive data being submitted by your valued customers.
One such form generator software I looked at today is Instant Form Pro. Some of the many features include:
Instant Form Pro can build most types of web forms, whether it's a simple contact or feedback for or a complex multi-page form allowing for file uploads or survey applications. There's a demo of the generator on the Instant Form Pro site so you can get a better idea of how it works.
In the interests of transparency and disclosure, please note that the owner of Taming the Beast.net often receives goods and services mentioned in reviews for free, or may receive payments or affiliate commissions for advertising or referring others to merchants of products and services reviewed.
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