collect registrations with online forms

Tips for creating an application form

February 19th, 2019

Application forms are very important for companies, schools and non-profit organizations. It allows us to register participants for an event, gather potential buyers for a property or enrol students for a course. Some application forms have become so common that we have even started to mentally group them in their own category, like for instance a job application form.

What is the goal of an application form?

The main purpose of an application form is that you want to fill a list of candidates, members or participants. The most important data in this list are first and foremost the contact details, namely the name and email address or telephone number of the applicants. Often this data is already enough, but an application form can of course also ask for specific information such as which course is being applied to. After a filled list has been created, it becomes possible to take further steps and you can communicate with the respondent; in other words, the course can be planned, and the student can be informed when the course takes place.

Getting Started

Now that it is clear to us what we want to achieve with the application form, we can get started. We also have collected several tips for creating the application form.

In FormFinch you start an application form by choosing create form from the dashboard or forms overview. To follow the steps in this article, start with a blank form.

Only ask for essential information

Ask as few questions as possible on your form, try to ask for the most essential information only. Often with an application form a name or email address is enough information. You should limit the number of questions to prevent someone from ending form entry prematurely, resulting in you not receiving a new registration. The more extensive the form, or the more questions you ask, the larger the threshold will be to fill in the form completely.

Give your form a clear title

Always start the form with a clear title field so that your audience knows what the form’s purpose is and to whom they give their personal information.

The title field is the first field on the form. In the form designer, you choose the static component Title to place a clear title field.

If necessary, write an introductory text but keep it short

Under the title field it is sometimes customary to place a brief introductory text in which instructions are given on how to fill in the form. Keep this text short, it is not intended to provide a full information brochure on the subject for which the application form is created. If you also want to add that information, you can do so by placing a website link under the introductory text linking to the web page where this information can be found.

An introductory text is certainly not mandatory on an application form. A job application form is such a well-known form type that an additional introductory text is in most cases unnecessary.

The introductory text is created with the component Plain text. In this field you can also decorate text with Markdown to make text bold or italic.

Ask the most important questions first

The questions for the most important information on an application form are placed at the beginning of the form, and are flagged as required to ensure that this information is supplied correctly. These questions contain almost always the essential contact fields of the respondent such as name and email address.

For name use the input field Short question, email address has its own input field type.

Group related questions

After the essential (contact) data has been collected, you can also ask context specific questions. Group these questions as much as possible by subject and correlation. Grouping fields can be done by placing them consecutively and keeping these fields on the same page. Optionally, a title field with a smaller font can be placed above this semantic grouping.

Files that should also be sent when applying, such as a résumé or a passport photo, are received by placing an upload field on the form.

Before you publish the form, first check the form preview to see if you are satisfied with the design. Make sure that all fields that are mandatory are marked as such and try to follow the tips given in this article as much as possible. You may also want to change the form theme so that it fits more with the presentation of your organization. Only publish when you are satisfied with the result. You then either publicly share the link to the form or you insert the form on your website with the provided embed code.

Receive submissions

As mentioned earlier, the purpose of the application form is to collect a list of applicants that serves as the starting point for the next steps of your process and through which communication with the applicants can be achieved. In FormFinch this resulting list can be found in the submissions overview.

This overview shows when new submissions have been received, and you can export the list of registrations to Excel or CSV file. If you want to start processing applicants before the end date has passed, it is useful to know that you can add notes to submissions so that you know which applicant has already been processed.

FormFinch can also send you form submission email notifications. This email functionality allows you to receive an email in your own inbox with a new registration. There are several options for sending the email notification. You can, for example, receive an email when you receive a registration with the content of the registration to which you can immediately react back to the sender. This way a course participant can be personally welcomed in an email after applying to the course.

We hope that these tips help you to make the perfect application form yourself with FormFinch.