How do I create a submission form, questionnaire, or survey for my readers to fill out?
The Webforms feature allows you to create interactive forms on your website, with such features as text fields, multiple choice dropdown menus, radio buttons, and even photo uploads. The form results are saved on your website and can also be emailed to a recipient of your choice.
To create a form:
- Log in to your website by clicking the Login button at the top of your newspaper’s homepage.
- Under Polling & Surveys in the right-hand Site Settings menu, choose Add a form.
- On the first screen, you will be setting up some general aspects of the form. You will need to fill out:
Title – The name of the form, for example “Letter to the Editor Submission”. This will appear at the top of the form page.
Body – Information or graphics that will appear above the form components on the form page. For example, if you were making a contest entry form, you could put the contest rules in the Description box. Otherwise, the description could be as simple as “Fill out the form below to submit a Letter to the Editor”.
URL path settings – This menu controls the web address of your form. You will need to expand this menu and then enter something simple in the field, such as “letters” or “letterstotheeditor”. Don’t use punctuation marks or spaces. In the example given, the form would then be available at www.paper.com/letters or www.paper.com/letterstotheeditor (with www.paper.com replaced with your own website address).
Publishing options – This controls whether the form is active or not. If you want readers to immediately start using your new form, expand this menu and check the box for “Published”.
Finally, click Save. On the next screen you will actually set up the various fields of your form.
- After saving the settings on the first page, you will be directed to the Form Components page. This allows you to add the various text fields, checkboxes and so forth that your readers will have to fill out. To add the first form component:
- Type the name of the component into the “New Component Name” field. For example, a good first component would be “Name”. Other common components would be things like “Address”, “City”, “Phone Number”, etc. Or you can enter something more elaborate like “Favorite football team” or “Describe your dream vacation”. Whatever you enter here will be shown next to the text field, checkbox, etc on the actual finished form.
- The next item to the right is a dropdown menu (defaulted to “textfield”) which allows you to choose how this component is displayed on the finished form. The different options are:
- Textfield (default) – a small text box, useful when a reader needs to enter their name, address, city, etc.
- Date – allows the reader to select a date from a calendar interface
- Email – a small text box specifically designed to capture a user’s email address
- Fieldset – advanced, do not use
- File – allows the reader to upload a file, such as an image
- Grid – creates a grid of radio buttons, with choices along the top and questions down the side. Could be used to create a survey-style “Strongly agree, somewhat agree, do not agree, strongly disagree” section of your form
- Hidden – advanced, do not use
- Markup – can be used to insert an image, additional instructions, or other non-interactive elements in the middle of your form
- Pagebreak – useful as a divider between form sections, if your form is on the longer side
- Select – can be used to create a set of checkboxes, a dropdown menu, or set of radio buttons
- Textarea – a larger Textfield, useful if a reader will be entering a lot of text
- Time – allows the reader to select a time (hour, minute, am/pm)
- Once you have selected the proper component type, decide whether you want the component to be mandatory or optional. If mandatory, check the box in the mandatory column.
- The “Email” checkbox controls whether the results of that component should be emailed to you. Typically this should always be checked.
- Finally, click Add to the right of the New Component you just entered.
- On the next screen, you will be asked to configure the component you just entered. For something like a Textfield, all you will need to do is scroll down and click Submit. Other components, such as Select, will require you to enter some information. For example, for the Select component to work correctly you will need to type what the various choices should be, and whether a reader can select multiple choices or just one.
- After clicking Submit, you will be returned to the components screen and can repeat step 4 to add additional components.
- When all of your components have been added, you can use the four-way arrows to the left of each one to drag them up and down. With this method you can position them in your desired order. Remember to click Submit when you are done to save your changes.
- Next, click the Email tab above the list of components. This page allows you to set up email notifications of form submissions, to the email address of your choice. The page will ask you for a recipient. Type your email address in the provided field and then click Add. The page will then allow you to customize the subject line, from line, and so forth of the email notifications, but this step is optional and you can simply scroll down and click Save E-mail Settings to accept the defaults.
- Next, click the Form Settings tab at the top of the page. This page allows you to customize a few final aspects of your form. Specifically:
Redirection location – This controls what happens after the user fills out the form and presses Submit. They can either be A) shown a short confirmation message in green on its own page (Confirmation Page), B) sent to another page of your website, or even an external website (Custom URL), or C) shown a short confirmation message in green at the top of the form page (No Redirect). In the cases of choices A and C, you can enter the desired confirmation message in the Confirmation Message box at the top of the Form Settings page. A good option for a confirmation message is always “Thank you for your submission.”Submission Limit – If you want each user to only be able to submit the form once (for an opinion poll, for example), then you can use these controls.Submission Access – This section is useful if you only want your online subscribers to be able to submit the form (in which case you would check the “subscriber” box and uncheck the others). Otherwise, if you want everyone to have access, leave the “anonymous user” and “authenticated user” boxes checked.
- Click Save Configuration at the bottom of the page. Your form is now complete. If you did not check the box for Published back in step 3 (Publishing Options), go back to that page and do that now.
- You can now create a button in your website’s menu to link to the new form, or even design a banner or other graphic to promote the form. Remember to link to the URL that you chose under “URL Path Settings”. The Our-Hometown staff is happy to help with this step.
- Finally, note that you can view your form results on the website at any time by going to the form page and then clicking theResults tab at the top of the page. This is true whether or not you are also getting email notifications of form responses.