I recently worked on a site that required a rather in-depth order form. They are a small but growing food company who need their customers to be able to place orders from a menu that changes weekly. Most of the forms I've used so far with Squarespace have been really simple and have served to gather contact details, short messages and a few other details. Here's an example of a contact form I use on my site. It is super simple - name, surname, email and message.
There are other ways you can use the built-in form feature on your Squarespace site, for example:
- to ask for feedback,
- to conduct a survey, or
- to gather testimonials.
The thing I found, though, when working on this particular site, was that the form functions were severely limited! I couldn't tweak the layout of the form to create two columns as opposed to one. I couldn't add several selection options to a form allowing a visitor to the site to order, say, 3 x option A, or 4 x option B without the form getting really long and unwieldy. I wanted to keep the site as user-friendly as possible, but it was getting out of hand! I was also trying to keep in mind that people often access the site on their phones or tablets, and a long, drawn-out form would be really off-putting.
In my frustration, I started researching some other options. I was hoping I would find something out there that would allow me to create the kind of form I wanted and then let me plug it seamlessly into the Squarespace site. Well, I found some really great options and did a bit of research on Jotform, Typeform, Wufoo, Formstack and Powr. I wondered if there were other people out there with the same frustrations as me, so I decided to put all the info together in this blog post.
1 | Jotform
Jotform is an easy-to-use online form builder for every business. You can sign up for free, build a range of types of forms from registering guests for an event to conducting customer surveys. You can start with a blank form, use one of their templates or import a form you've already built.
They have a range of templates which you can browse by industry (like education, business, services, healthcare or sports), or you can browse by form type (like registration forms, order forms or sign-up forms). For the purposes of the site I was working on, I picked their 'product order form' template and had a closer look.
The way their site works is really intuitive and soon I was customising the form, adding products, and tweaking the contact info settings. Then I hit a snag. There was no option to change the currency from US Dollars to South African Rands, or even just remove the currency symbol to leave it blank. For other people, this might not be an issue, but as a South African, building a site for a local business this wasn't going to work.
If I had continued with Jotform I would have found that they have a range of third-party integrations including, among others:
- Google Sheets
- Google Drive
Third-party integrations allow you to reroute the data you're collecting to other places. It's a great way to create systems and structures within your business to make it flow more smoothly.
When it came to sharing the form I could have shared it on the site as a link, or more ideally embedded the form into the site using some simple code. I quite liked that Jotform forms can appear as a pop-up window, a lightbox, as a feedback button to the side of the site or within a frame.
Even better, there was the option to search through third-party publishing options where I found detailed instructions on how to add the form I had built right into Squarespace. I'll embed the code here so you can have a look to see what the form looks like and how it behaves on a Squarespace site. I think it works brilliantly!
Like a lot of people who design websites for a living, I really value the overall aesthetic of a site. I want to know that the colours, look, font, feel and layout of any external addition fits with the way I've designed the site. The thing about Jotform, as with most of the forms you'll read about later is that in order to remove the official Jotform branding, you need to upgrade your account from the free version to the paid version. (You can have a look here to see Jotform's pricing structure). The free version gives you only 100 monthly submissions, 5 forms to use, and storage of only 500 form submissions. This really isn't very much. The next option up is $19 per month and so it goes.
Would I consider Jotform as an option when building an online form? Definitely!
2 | Typeform
I've been using Typeform for a few years now. I find it really useful to run quick surveys, gather information for blog posts, and get feedback about ideas I'm working on. I've even used it to find out from my friends and family whether they think a new business idea I have will work or not!
Typeform is beautifully designed, which is most of the appeal for me. They also claim to be 'human-centre' as opposed to 'user-centred', keeping people at the heart of their design. Like Jotform, you can start building your form from scratch or you can select one of their existing templates. You can put together a branding questionnaire, design a 'suggestion box' or run a social media survey.
The types of questions you can ask include:
- short text
- long text
- multiple choice
- picture choice
- question group
- opinion scale
- file upload
Here are two examples from a form I used in a recent blog post. The first is the kind of question you'd use when asking a 'On a scale of one to ten' type of question. The second is a yes/no structured question.
With Typeform, once you've built your form, you can then design it. Designing the form involves selecting colours, fonts and backgrounds so that your form matches the site you're using.
After the design aspect, you move on to configure your settings. These settings include naming your form, making it public or private, and selecting a redirect after a form is submitted. You can also integrate your form with MailChimp and Zapier, which pushes the data to a range of other services.
The next step with Typeform is to share your form through these options:
- share a url
- share on social media
- embed form on a website
- start your form using an email
- collect responses in chat
The last step in putting together a Typeform is to analyse the results of your survey, question or form. You can see the metrics like unique visits, responses, and average time taken to complete the survey. You can view the results - that is the answer to each question - and download these results into a Google Sheet or Excel Spreadsheet. You can also track visits using Google Analytics and view reports to gain greater insight into your results.
Of course, there are always costs involved if you want to get rid of Typeform's branding and customise your welcome screens, thank you pages, as well as if you want to use their more complex question structuring.
Would I use Typeform on a site I'm building? Most definitely! Would a small solo business be able to afford it? I'm not sure.
3 | Wufoo
Wufoo is yet another online form builder that allows you to do some really great things like:
- process online payments or donations
- send and receive files via a file upload tool
- organise and store data.
I wouldn't say I loved the design, layout and user experience of working with Wufoo, despite the cute dinosaurs everywhere! I did, however, appreciate the option to custom build very specific reports pulling from certain fields within your form. I didn't stick around long enough to do any further exploration, except to note that Wufoo definitely came in at the cheaper end of the options out there.
Would I use Wufoo? I doubt it. I think it would get the job done, and it certainly is affordable, but the experience of working with it was awkward and ineligant.
4 | Formstack
Formstack allows you to build forms, automate workflows, and route data. It provides intelligent forms for your whole team to manage data across your organisation. It integrates with Salesforce, MailChimp, Google Sheets and a bunch of other tools.
It certainly is impressive, but going back to my original purpose in researching these forms - to provide an alternative to Squarespace's limited form option for a small business - the pricing was just too high for what I was looking for. Starting at around $40 per month in order to use just one form integration with a site just felt like too much of a stretch for this small business.
Would I use Formstack? If I was building a big company - for sure! With an emphasis on keeping costs down for a small start-up business, though, and no need for using a range of forms, I think Formstack is aimed at a different league of business.
5 | Powr
After having a look at FormStack and being a little overwhelmed by the sheer size and capability of it, it was a relief to find a form builder targeting small businesses.
Powr not only has a form building option but also provides a library of other plugins that support small business - like pop-ups, count-down timers, bookings and reviews. Have a look at their library here.
Powr also integrates with sites like Tumblr, Shopify and Squarespace, so the process of integrating the form you build into your site is a fairly painless process.
Although Powr seemed to have the features I needed, and come in at a really affordable monthly fee, I got the feeling that they're still figuring out their market and making loads of tweaks as they go. The last time I visited their site just over two weeks ago, it looked completely different! That makes me a little nervous as a user and gives me the sense that they might not be around for too long. I would rather pay a more established company a little more than have to start from scratch if this company folds soon.
Would I use Powr? Perhaps. Their pricing range wins me over, but not much more than that.
You might want to know what happened in the end with my site build. Which form builder did I choose? As it happened, once presented with the options at hand the client decided to stick with a very basic Squarespace order form and look to add an online shop to handle their orders as a next step in the future.
Do you use any forms on your site? If so, how do you use them? And have you ever used any third-party tools like the ones I've mentioned here?
I wrote this blog post as part of my Squarespace series. You can have a look at the other posts in the series over here.