Let’s establish this up front: I hate building online forms. Sure, they may be one of the most common and useful elements on the web, but in my experience, they’re an absolute pain-in-the-butt to build. The semantics differ wildly between the form elements, the backend logic to make them work is always complex, and it seems like every browser likes to render them differently. The next time you see a really well-done form on a website, go give that web developer a hug; they probably pulled their hair out over it.
With all of that in mind, it should come as no surprise that I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love with Wufoo, a popular online service dedicated solely to building forms of all shapes and sizes. After being evangelized on it by Cleve and Phil Bowdle over the course of the inaugural Creative Missions trip, I decided it was finally time for us to give it a shot.
I can’t count how many times over the last few years that I’ve wanted to build out a slick form to collect some information, but just didn’t have the time to make it happen. Wufoo’s purpose is to fix that problem. With its simple drag and drop interface, you can build some unbelievably complex forms in a matter of minutes. Even better, their tempting system gives you complete control over the look and feel of the form itself. Your users will likely never notice that the form they’re filling out isn’t an extension of your existing web site.
So how are we using it? Following Phil’s advice, I took the last week to revamp our entire internal communications strategy around a simple set of forms. Now, instead of exchanging a chain of emails in order to get something posted on our website, our staff simply fills out a streamlined form to send me the information I need. It’s a huge time saver for both parties.
Really though, you can use Wufoo for just about anything. Think event registration, contact forms, spiritual gift profiles, etc. It’s definitely worth your time to try it out and let your brain run wild with the possibilities. (If you sign up for a paid plan, don’t forget to sign up for the non-profit discount!)
Are there any online tools that you’re currently enamored with? Let us know in the comments below.