Posted in: Archive
Form submission – its a definitive must have feature of every website. But what if you aren’t sure how to program one yourself – or worse still you’ve taken on a client who refuses to pay for it?
Enter 12 web based form submission tools, which host both your form, and your data – taking the hassle out of form creation. Some of these are great at creating surveys, others are more geared towards form replacement on your site, and the best combine a mix of the two, allowing you to fully customise the data you collect.
WuFoo, is one of the leading form generator tools on the web. They even managed to pick up a mention for being one of the best UI on the web – from none other than Jacob Nielson himself. The free option is available for 1 user, who can create 3 forms, 3 reports, 10 fields and 100 entries (answers) a month. If you need a higher volume, the paid options start at 10 dollars a month. You do however get a subdomain of your own, and the options for embedding the form on your site are pretty neat. Iframes, or popup windows are the options if you want to post to Wufoo servers, but there is also a nice feature for getting the layout of the forms in CSS / XHTML – great for code monkeys who just want to worry about the server side code, but can’t be arsed with the client side bits and bobs.
It’s a relatively unknown feature of Google spreadsheets – the fact that you can create your own forms. In fact I’m speaking from experience. It wasn’t until a friend sent me an attendance form for a conference that I even knew it existed. It is quite easy to create a questionaire, provided you have a Google account. Simply select New > Form from within the Google docs interface, and follow the onscreen advice. Unlike Wufoo, whos options are a good bit more advance Google spreadsheet only collates results in (an actual spreadsheet) – using it as the database. The advantage of this is that you can later download the data for analysis, or export it into Microsoft Excel to build graphs etc. The form can be embedded (via Iframes) or linked or emailed, depending on your needs.
Although it is another commercial form processing tool, form assembly offers a free version of the tool which generates what you need. Some advanced features, like file upload, secure forms (SSL) or auto-responders, are not available with the free version. You can still however create an unlimited number of forms and process an unlimited number of responses, which is useful if you are on a budget and have quite a big audience to cater for. The only downside is that the free version is supported via advertising, which may be a gripe for some people. Form Assembly does however offer the best integration with third party tools, provided you are a paying customer you can integrate with charts, Excel, Salesforce, Paypal and third party scripts.
Whilst more geared towards (the obvious) surveys – surveymonkey still collates its information in an HTML format. Don’t let the odd name fool you—this is the one webmonkey you could use on your back. It’s easy to use and very flexible—especially when creating questions and accessing the survey results, although the interface could probably use a bit of an overhaul. Features wise, the fact that you can only have one login, especially for the paid for accounts, is its main downfall. That aside, it does a great job at what it does.
A main competitor to SurveyMonkey SurveyGizmo is one of the only form generation tools that we found to be fully accessible. Some of the code generated from some of the others here is questionable, and cannot be read by screen readers. Support from Survey Gizmo is also excellent with the support forums being closely monitored and read by staff daily.
Zoomerang’s main strength would have to be its pre built templates. You will find that for the majority of your needs a form exists which is extremely close to what you are looking for, and then its only a few tweaks away before you can publish it and get going. With 800,000 registered users they must be doing something right. One small gripe is that for validation of your email zoomerang requires you to login to your email and confirm you have received the signup email prior to building your first form. The basic (free) version allows you 100 responses per survey, and a maximum of 30 questions. The next jump up from that is an annual fee (pretty expensive at $199)- not terribly attractive if you need enterprise features, but only have one or two surveys a year.
Worth a mention snapsurveys in addition to their enterprise form submission tools, offer a free poll for insertion on your website. The enterprise version delivers complete graphs and surveys – at a price.
Formspring is one of the few form processing applications which offers an API, in fact mashable covered the ins and outs of this a while back. In addition to this their feature set is pretty comprehensive. First of all their “smart routing” features is nothing short of brilliant, and is seemlessly integrated into the options. Basically it allows you to control redirection, confimation messages and destinations of emails when the form has been filled in.
FormSite’s free offering is pretty measly in comparison with some of the other web 2.0 form submission sites out there. 10 results per form, 5 forms per account, maximum of 50 items per form and 25MB of attachment space, however the fact that they do offer attachment space is a major selling point as it allows your visitors to submit say JPEG competition entries – albeit with a maximum of ten submissions. When you do get down to the actual payment for the service, assuming that you decide to do so, $1000 a year for their Pro 3 version, will cover almost all needs – apart from high traffic sites. However why a high traffic site would choose to use a service like this rather than code their own form submission page, I still can’t get my head around. Some of these sites would perhaps be better off catering for the smaller DIY users, and putting a pricing plan which will attract them. Pay as you go pricing would make more sense.
Response o matic has been around for a while. It is more web 1.0 than web 2.0, but I’ve included it here to prevent everyone going “what about response-o-matic”. They were a pioneer of forms processing about 10 years ago.. Their free version hasn’t moved on much though – It only allows one form per account, and offers the service by including an advertising link. Still if you are a low volume, and need something churned out quickly, the system is quick and easy to use.