Digital Forms

Last week I was in a meeting with a client discussing the digital forms platform Visibility Solutions has set up for their company. Being new to the role they had not utilised a digital forms platform tool for data gathering before. She asked me at the start of the meeting, “Jonathan, what is a digital form and how does it differ from a normal form?”

In my 7 years of working in the digital forms arena I had never been asked to specify what a digital form is. I tried to offer an explanation that digital forms are the next generation to paper based forms, may have extra bits like pictures, tasks and the information gathered is in real time.

This led me to research what others thought a digital form is. After an hour or so I hadn't found a single article on what I really think a digital form is. I did however find lots on forms, paper forms and web forms. I also discovered there are lots of people who complain about forms and the way they have to interact with these “stupid” forms and I must say, I concur. School and government forms just drive me the most crazy.

So my goal with this post is to provide some fundamental education around digital forms so forms become intelligent and the submitters have a pleasant experience.

This week I am going to start of with an overview of a digital forms platform. A digital form is far more than a PDF version of a paper form. In it’s entirety a digital form can be completed both online and offline. It can contain links to data e.g. products; has translating and scoring functions; the ability to include uploaded images, and perhaps the most important feature, automatically collected data e.g. how long it took to fill in and when it was filled in (a time and date stamp).

These can then be distributed, processed, and reported on in either real-time or as required e.g. every Sunday evening. Additionally the submission itself of a digital form can trigger a series of events which might update databases in another platform, create new records or simply update a dashboard on the performance of an organisation. These and many more elements make what we will now call a digital ecosystem for forms.

To summarise, a digital form is the form element of a digital ecosystem. It is the heart of the ecosystem.The reporting and workflow elements operate around the form. A digital form is the hero of the dish going digital.

Next week I’ll cover the basic elements to consider when starting a project that has digital forms at its heart.

Hope you enjoyed the content. Feel free to leave a comment.


Jonathan Elcombe

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