Digital Strategy Advisor, Enterprise Architect
The traditional method of capturing end-user data in a structured manner based on a set of paper-based Forms was very successful in the last century. This idea was taken one step further by implementing digital Forms (e.g. Zoho Forms, Google Forms, Microsoft Forms, Formstack, and so on) in a technology-centric manner. Is it "just a form"? No, it's much more than that. One of the simplest Forms you must be using casually is Google Search.
A collection of digital Forms could be used to create a complete website or automate certain business processes (e.g. orders, payments, support tickets) in a secure manner. Besides being remotely accessible, it offers statistical information for analytics (e.g. geospatial data, demographics).
In fact, many Payment Gateway providers use Forms to offer hosted pages that could be embedded into your websites. The Form captures sufficient information from a purchaser (e.g. buyer details, item, quantity). So, if you have a list of subscription plans or products to be sold online, these Forms come in very handy. You don't need to be a Programmer to use them. You don't need to worry about PCI-DSS compliance either because the Payment Gateway takes the responsibility of the secure transfer of data from the Form to their services. Wow...
Forms were used successfully to gather data from remote patients without meeting face-to-face during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Obviously, the data must be secured to meet compliance regulations. So, Form services providers typically have the HIPAA HITECH compliance certification.
Many websites leverage Forms to capture sales leads to register them directly into your CRM systems. Some digital Forms are used for marketing (e.g. Email campaigns). A paradigm shift has occurred in Customer Journey Mapping based on digital Forms, workflows, and business rules. Many marketing automation tools use Forms as a key enabler along with content tools.
Besides websites, these Forms are embedded in your mobile-apps, PDF files, emails, chatbots, etc. Nowadays, many conversational applications are presenting Forms to route traffic to specific systems or humans. It's not magic. Just a smart way of capturing information integrated with engines.
An embeddable Form is created using a designer tool that has integration capabilities too. The submission of a Form is considered as an action that could trigger something (e.g. update row in a spreadsheet, create database record, trigger web services, send an email, and so on). Actions are used for integration with third-party systems, e.g. CRM, Help Desk, etc.
Some Forms are hosted as a service and available in a subscription model. While these do cost some money, you benefit more due to the sophisticated features associated with these Forms. Also, there is fine-grained control built into the Forms.
Many zero-code development environments (e.g. Zoho Creator) leverage Forms as a key enabler.
Nowadays, Document Assembly platforms (e.g. Zoho Writer, Formstack Docs) are taking key inputs from digital Forms and generating standard documents (e.g. business proposals, quotes, contract agreements, etc). Such documents are digitally signed using software tools (e.g. Adobe Sign, DocuSign, Zoho Sign, Formstack Sign) to release secure and legally binding document output.
So, just think about using a Forms-based approach for your next development project. While you save time by leveraging a lot of capabilities already tested by others, you also deliver faster to clients.
Also, please remember that Forms do not serve as a silver bullet for every situation. It is great for a "capture-n-trigger" scenario, but if you have a very complex interaction scenario then custom development would be more suitable. Finally, the decision is yours, always! Use your judgement.
Create your free account to unlock your custom reading experience.