Forms are people, too

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be writing about digital forms. By this time next month, I hope I’ll have persuaded you that online forms are much more important than they seem. That’s because digital forms don’t just solve a technology problem — They are an important part of solving the people problems that hamper growth and progress within organizations.

So, let’s get started.

There’s one thing I notice nearly everywhere I go online:

Organizations struggle to absorb information through their digital properties.

Good content systems are two-way streets, which means your website, for example, should be just as good at gathering information from visitors as it is at disseminating information.

There are lots of ways to gather information from visitors. Some, like analytics or conditional chat bots, are fancier than others — but forms are the most common. That’s because forms have been at the heart of how businesses function since the dawn of time.

Forms structure the exchange of information between two parties.

A good form is efficient. It gathers the info a business needs to meet a particular goal, streamlining a key process. It saves the company and customer time and money, and it preserves good will.

There are many kinds of forms — from contact forms to space rental forms; appointment booking forms to ecommerce forms. (Yep, amazon.com is basically one great, big form). If you have a page on your website that says, “email us to find out more about how you can x”, then you’re using email as a form, which is a great way to discourage people from doing x. (More on that in the days ahead.)

Show me a business goal, and I’ll show you a thousand different companies undermining that goal with poorly structured (or nonexistent) online forms.

Next week, I’m going to talk about how an organization’s forms (or lack thereof) can be a good way to gauge the maturity of its digital governance.

In the meantime, consider the state of your organization’s forms:

  • Are you structuring the exchange of information online or are you encouraging people to send emails?

  • Are your forms Word documents that need to printed and mailed in, or are they interactive players that conform to customer needs?

  • Has anyone evaluated the performance of your forms to see if they need to be optimized?

If your forms started returning twice as many submissions next week, what would that mean for your company’s revenue, and how would it impact your team’s workload?

Hit reply and let me know.

Kyle

Kyle Bowen