The Engage Forms tool has all kinds of great features to enrich your form and get the data you need. Read on for great ideas on how to optimize your use of Forms to the most powerful effect!
As a general rule, if you are changing any part of your current form, we recommend first approving/denying all pending submissions and inactivating the form before making changes. We also recommend saving an export of your current form submissions before making edits. This ensures your changes do not have consequences on any students currently going through the process.
1. Make sure you are putting your form in the best place
There are all sorts of places to store forms in Engage! Here are some of our best practices for deciding the best place for your form:
- Does your form have to do with the events process at all? In this case, it's always best to work your form into your event additional fields or branch event custom fields so that users do not have to find and complete multiple forms. You can even use display logic so that only certain event submitters will see your questions.
- Does your form have to do with the organization registration process? These forms can be linked together in the registration tool so long as they are either administrative forms or organization forms within the branch that hosts the registration process you are working on.
- Consider the audience of this form. If it is most relevant to individuals within a certain organization, place it in that organization's page so that members of that organization will see the form higher in their Forms Directory. If it is relevant to many students, place it in your administrative branch's forms so that it appears towards the top of the Forms directory for all students involved in an organization under that branch. If it is one of your most important forms, an administrator can feature any organization, branch, or administrative form to ensure it is at the top of the Forms Directory for all students.
Organization and Branch forms have slightly different functionality available from Administrative forms, which may also help you decide where to place your form.
2. Pick the right question types
Engage has 8 different basic form question types to choose between. Different question types are ideal for getting different kind of answers. For example, sometimes a user might create a check box question when they really wanted a radio button question. This mistake can lead to some incorrect submissions to the form where a user may have accidentally or purposefully selected multiple answers to a question that really only should have had one answer. Learn more about available form question formats and their use cases.
3. Help users identify the kind of open-ended answer you are looking for with your text field size
If you are using a Text Field question in your form, you have the ability to determine exactly how big of a field users have to enter their answer in by identifying the number of columns and rows for the text space. A small space indicates to the user that their answer can be brief, while a larger space indicates to the user that their answer should be more elaborate.
In the example above, the questions have the same number of columns (width) but the second question has more rows (length or height). This tells the user that their answer to "Contact Campus Email" can be very brief, but that they should provide additional, detail to "What materials do you plan to have at your table?"
4. Leverage Patterns to restrict open-ended answers to give you a consistent data format
It's often easiest to look at phone numbers, emails, states and other common types of qualitative responses if they are in a consistent format. When you edit a Text Field question, you can add a "Pattern" to the question to restrict users' answers to follow a standard format.
For example, we can restrict the "Contact Campus Email" question above so that users can only enter text following the format of ______@____.__ in their response. If a user tries to enter other text in this field, they will receive an error asking them to enter a valid email address before proceeding to the next page.
See all available form validation options.
5. Determine which questions are genuinely required
Not every question in a form needs to be required, and requiring every question can actually make a form more lengthy and cumbersome for a student to submit, leading to less responses. Use your best judgment to determine when an answer is just helpful versus actually necessary and use the "required" question option thoughtfully.
6. Use skip logic to ensure users see only the questions they need to answer
When drafting your form, it's also helpful to see if there are entire sets of questions a user may not need to answer depending on their answers to other questions in the form. In this case, take advantage of skip logic to make your form shorter and easier for students to complete.
7. Consider if your form needs an approval process
The form property "Submission Approval Process" will default to enabling an approval process wherein forms will remain in a pending state until a user either approves or denies them. If you do not expect to approve and deny forms, it's best to disable this feature so that forms will not remain in a pending state in your queue. Alternatively, if your form needs a more advanced approval process including a step by step workflow, consider enabling Reviewer Workflow.
With these tips in mind, your form is sure to be successful! As always, if you're not sure exactly the best place to put your form or you'd like some additional tips on building it, your consultant is available for advice on best practices and more.