"Run Your Small Business With Online Forms" — Formstack May 19, 2016 Webinar Questions and Answers

Introduction and overview

Alex sirota formstack webinar
How to Run Your Small Business With Online Forms
webinar recording

Robin Macrae
LinkedIn, Twitter, Zoom

On May 19, 2016, Alex Sirota presented an in-depth case study of a NewPath Consulting customer that has employed a sophisticated Formstack form-based application to generate substantial revenue and sustain the business. In doing so, he highlighted the Formstack features that enable you to manage business data and processes and demonstrated that one of the largest benefits of online forms:  helping you manage your business processes online and transform your business into a digital workplace.
Alex Sirota image.
The event was a huge success with over 450 registrations, and a recording of the webinar is available online.

At the end of the webinar, there were over 20 questions in the Q&A, and not all of them could be adequately covered. As promised, this blog post will recap the questions and answers including a more detailed walk-through of the more complex questions.

The Q&As are organized in terms of common themes:

  1. Basic functionality
  2. Calculating fields
  3. Prepopulated (prefilled) fields
  4. Integrations | general
  5. Integrations | Google
  6. Security and access
  7. Subscription plans and features

Alex Sirota answered the questions in the webinar and in emails to those submitting them. Robin Macrae extracted the content, edited it for clarity and readability, organized it into categories and rewrote and supplemented the content where appropriate. The text is ~3,000 words.

Do you need help with a Formstack form or application? As Formstack consultants, we have become very experienced with the ways Formstack can enhance and drive your sales, marketing and operational efforts. Book a time for a no-charge half-hour consultation with a Formstack guru, Alex Sirota.

Basic functionality

Is integration with other systems the only way to have the ability to manipulate data captured in Formstack?

You can manipulate data on each submission in the submissions tab in Formstack. You can change the data each submission as well as search all submissions by keyword. You can do some simple filtering, sorting and management right within your Formstack submissions section as well. If you wish to have the submission data flow to another web application, you must use integrations between Formstack and supported web applications or by using Zapier.com. This will enable you to manage and manipulate Formstack submissions in external systems. The Google Sheets integration we demonstrated is a perfect example of how Formstack data can be summarized and manipulated outside of Formstack.

Where can we access a template database?

If by template you mean forms that you can use as templates, see the list of the pre-built starter forms in Form Examples & CSS Form Design Templates | Formstack.

When you use the form builder, you can start with a blank form or select a template including one of those starter forms.

Can I print a report showing all 3rd graders from school district A who completed a pretest at 80% or above?

Yes, as long as the data was available to specify the grade and the school district as 2 distinct fields, then you can you can use a filter in the submissions tab. The test score will need to be stored as a numeric field as well. The submissions feature in Formstack will allow you to filter and search submissions. Submissions can also be exported to an Excel spreadsheet or a PDF. Basic graphing of submissions is another Formstack feature of the submissions tab.

We recommend Manage & Export Submissions | Formstack, a 4 minute video on the submissions capability in Formstack.

Does Formstack have a way for users to print a form before or after they've completed it?

It is possible to print a form but it is not a builtin capability at this time. Printing can be added with JavaScript using the "Description" field. Alternatively, you can use a WebMerge integration and create a PDF using a template to load the data submitted. The PDF can be sent to the submitter who would print it in a browser or use Adobe Acrobat.

Is there a way for each field on a form to have an ID in addition to a label so that the results show the difference between two fields with the same label (i.e., there may be more than one field inside the form that is labeled "Name")?

You can have multiple fields with the same label. Internally, Formstack uniquely identifies each label. Calculations can reference each field individually. The fields available for the calculation show up in the order they are on the form.

Can you change the field type after the fact —say move from a numeric to a text field?

You can definitely do this but note that this may affect how your calculating fields work if you have included one of these fields in a calculation. That also applies to validations. Each field type has settings applicable only to that field type — minimum and maximum values for a numeric field, for example. The change in field type can be made by editing the field on the left hand side editor. Converting certain field types to another type is impractical (e.g., a text field to a matrix field).

Send over a paper or PDF of your current form we can quickly and inexpensively engineer it into a Formstack form. We can show you how business process automation saves time/money, increases data accuracy and decreases turnaround time. Book a time for a no-charge half-hour consultation with a Formstack guru, Alex Sirota.

Calculating fields

I would like to know how to do the calculations on a form.

Creating Calculations | Formstack details the calculation field setup.

To create a calculating form field, first create a Short Answer or Number field, then look for the Use Calculation link underneath the Default Value area. Click on that link and you will see a drop-down list of all form fields, numbers and mathematical symbols to set up the calculation. For a calculating field, only radio button, check box, numeric and short answer fields can be used.

Self-Calculating Order Form | NewPath is an example form that you can use to experiment. This sample form uses the short answer field as the quantity but can be changed to use one of the other quantity fields. The first number in the short answer (or other initial calculating field) will be used as the value.

Calculation fields can also be used on hidden fields as well as read only fields. Hidden fields are a clever way to create "variables" in a Formstack form. For example, hidden calculation fields can be used to dynamically create subtotals as a the user fills out the form.

Can I create a form with several columns for our reps to use to send orders? For instance, column 1 has description, column 2 has price, column 3 is blank for inputting order quantity, column 4 is discount and column 5 automatically calculate the total for each line? Use Google Spreadsheet perhaps?

Is there a limit of columns?

The maximum number of columns for a Formstack form is 4 as that is the practical limit set by Formstack. See more details on forms with multiple columns at Building Multi-Column Forms | Formstack.

Are these features standard? I don't see them in my form builder (the calculated fields specifically).

You will see them in Creating Calculations | Formstack.

Do you need help with a problem you're having with a form or evaluating the suitability of a form for a business process? We can help. Book a time for a no-charge half-hour consultation with a Formstack guru, Alex Sirota.

Prepopulated (prefilled) fields

Can my quotation form be linked to call the data and directly create an invoice form?

Yes, a form can be prepopulated with data to create an invoice. The Formstack support page to setup prepopulated forms is Formstack | Pre-Populating Form Fields.

Can the forms be prepopulated through an import to personalize the form and then emailed out to specific users?

This is a popular question and the answer is yes. This is one of Formstack's most useful capabilities.

A form can be prepopulated with information from a database to personalize it. You would want to couple this with an email marketing system that can merge the data using a URL on send out to accomplish your needs. The integration of the URL into the email system depends on the email marketing system you use.

To create a URL that prepopulates data in a form, follow the step by step instructions in Pre-Populating Form Fields | Formstack.

Formstack 101: Pre-Populating your Form is a short video on prepopulating form fields.

Prepopulating a form is rendering a form with data from a source other than a person inputting data manually. The key is the use of a URL to send data into the form to be prepopulated. Every form is given a URL when it is published as well as an embed tag. The technique involves adding search arguments to the URL (or embed tag) with the data to be used by the form.

This technique is a way to test a form without having to fill out the form. It is also used to extract data from virtually any CMS for use in the form.

If you're having trouble prepopulating a form — an invoice, for example — reach out to us and we can assist. Book a time for a no-charge half-hour consultation with a Formstack guru, Alex Sirota.

Integrations | general

What CRM systems are you currently integrated with?

Formstack has built in integration support for several popular CRM systems. The official list is in CRM Integration Solutions for Formstack Forms. Salesforce, HubSpot and Highrise are three of them.

If your CRM is not on the list, a custom integration may be available from a service such as Zapier (e.g., Formstack and Microsoft Dynamics CRM).

Do you integrate with Vertical Response?

Formstack does not have a VerticalResponse integration at this time. Check Zapier's Formstack & VerticalResponse Integration and consider its competitors as well.

Where on Formstack do you integrate other services such as Google Sheets?

When editing a form, add the integration by clicking on Settings > Google Spreadsheets. Then fill out the required information and you're ready to go.

For other integrations, go to Settings > Integration Hub, select the application category and from those available, use the "Add" button.  You can enable the 40+ integrations Formstack offers in the Integration Hub. See Google Sheets | Formstack for more details on the Google Sheets integration.

Do you want to integrate a form with a CRM, accounting or project management application running as a web service but Formstack hasn't made an integration available? We can help you choose or build an integration using Zapier or one of its many competitors. Book a time for a no-charge half-hour consultation with a Formstack guru, Alex Sirota.

Integrations | Google

Can the Google Sheet be revised and then imported back to Formstack again to update it?

No, it's a one-way flow of data from Formstack to Google Sheets. Google Sheets can export a CSV file which file can then be used to import the data as new submissions. Existing submissions will not be updated with any changes in the spreadsheet's data. Your import will create new submissions and the existing submissions will need to be deleted. To learn about importing CSV files, see Importing Data from CSV | Formstack.

The integration between Formstack and Google Sheets is one way -- FROM Formstack TO Google Sheets. Updating existing data is best done in Formstack. Use the approach described above to make mass changes and then import the submissions and deleting the existing submissions.

An integration can be rerun on a given submission. Select a submission and click on it to display it in a table format. Click on the puzzle piece icon on the right to re-run the submission and send that data again to your spreadsheet. See Easily Integrate Formstack Data to Google Sheets | Formstack Blog.

Can you integrate two Formstack forms to automatically feed info into one Google Sheet?

Yes, this is accomplished with the Google Sheets integration. Since Formstack outputs a submission as a row of data, Google Sheets is the appropriate integration to use. You implement the integration for each form individually and the integration includes selecting the spreadsheet. You can flow data from multiple forms into the same worksheet or you can select a different one. A form's integration can have only one Google Sheet.

You talked about integration with Google Sheets. How would I set that up? What are the specific steps?

Google Sheets | Formstack sets out the specific steps.

You will need to authenticate to your Google account before selecting the worksheet. There is a limitation of having just one target Google Sheet that can be accessed from a form. But multiple forms can be integrated with one target spreadsheet.

Using Google Sheet formulas to manipulate the data that Formstack sends to your Google Sheet is one of Formstack's most powerful capabilities. New submissions are added to the bottom of a spreadsheet. In order to access the submitted data, use the spreadsheet's INDIRECT() formula.

A bit of clever coding with the spreadsheet's INDIRECT() formula is required. We can help you determine the feasibility of such a technique for your form application. Book a timefor a no-charge session with a Formstack guru, Alex Sirota.

Are the instructions for how to integrate Formstack with Google on your website? Would that require a programmer?

No programmer required! That's why we love Formstack. Google Sheets | Formstack is the page you need.

We build primarily in Drupal and Joomla. Both CMS have native form plugins that can be styled and work within our responsive framework. What are the benefits to using Formstack over native form features that Drupal or Joomla offers? If you could make sure to touch upon how it works on a responsive site and what options there are for CSS customization that would be great.

When you use Formstack, you get a lot more capabilities than the native plugins that come with Drupal and Joomla. Formstack also beats hands-down the WordPress commercial plugins in terms of capability as well as integration options.

Not only can Formstack forms be easily embedded on a WordPress/Joomla/Drupal/Facebook page, but Formstack's capabilities enable you to convert more traffic. You can share a form using its unique URL. Formstack is so versatile that a form makes an excellent landing page and can function completely indepedently of any website.

The side by side comparison with competitor Gravity Forms in Gravity Forms Alternative WordPress Plugin | Formstack is worth a look.

Formstack forms are responsive for mobile devices out of the box and continue to be responsive as you iteratively configure them. CSS customization is available from a global form level to an individual field level. The CSS customizer gives you a degree of customization without getting into CSS code. If you want, you can use the CSS editor. See Custom Form Themes and CSS | Formstack to learn about the CSS customization capabilities of Formstack.

Not sure how to integrate Formstack with Google on your website? Think that a programmer is required? Let use walk you through the steps in a 30-minute phone call Book a timefor a no-charge session with a Formstack guru, Alex Sirota.

Security and access

Can you give me information about Single Sign On please?

Setting up Single Sign On Authentication | Formstack is the relevant support document on SSO. Single sign-on (SSO) is a session/user authentication process enabling the use of one username and password to access more than one application.

The authentication protocols Formstack supports are Active Directory, SAML 2.0, CAS, OpenID Connect and OpenID.

Does the form submissions in Google Sheet also contain credit card information?

When a credit card number is stored in a Formstack submission, only the last 4 digits are stored in the submission record created by Formstack. So when a credit card field is sent to a Google Sheet only the last 4 digits are passed. Note that Formstack requires that you turn on SSL encryption if your form collects credit card or other personally identifiable information.

The three kinds of sensitive data not sent by Formstack in an integration are a credit card's:

  1. account number
  2. expiry date
  3. CVV/CVC/CSC ("Card Security Code," "Card Verification Value," "Card Security Code")

The Show Me the Money: Collecting Payments with Online Forms | Formstack Blog post has more information on accepting credit cards.

PayPal Standard and other "off form" payment systems don't collect credit card numbers from the Formstack submission. Credit card and any other sensitive fields do not have to be sent to a Google Sheet because you control which submission fields' data is to be sent to Google sheets in the integration for the form.

If the credit card info is added to the Google Sheet, how do you keep that secure? What is the liability?

Data in a Google Sheet is secured with Google's access control and the use of HTTPS for interaction with the spreadsheet. The potential liability is the spreadsheet owner's, not Formstack's. Your business needs to understand its obligation in regard to sensitive data and Formstack has done an excellent job informing users in this regard. The key pages are:

  1. Security and Privacy | Formstack (an overview)
  2. Sensitive Data Help Guide | Formstack (use to determine what is sensitive/confidential)
  3. Credit Card Fields | Formstack
  4. Security and Privacy | Formstack
  5. Data Encryption | Formstack

Most forms have security and privacy requirements. We can show you how to use Formstack to enhance and drive your sales, marketing and operational efforts and meet those requirements. Book a time for a no-charge half-hour consultation with a Formstack guru, Alex Sirota.

Subscription plans and features

Are the different options being presented specific to the Platinum tier?

We didn't present or use any Formstack Platinum tier capabilities in the webinar.

The Platinum tier includes the following features the descriptions of which include short videos:

  1. A/B Testing | Formstack: enabling you to run a test on a form to see which variants of field location and labeling perform better.
  2. Campaign Tracking | Formstack: track campaigns with UTM codes.
  3. Field Bottlenecks | Formstack: check which fields present barriers to form completion.
  4. Partial Submissions | Formstack: collect partial submissions with the ability to resume
  5. Forms: up to 1,000 forms per account.
  6. Submissions per form: up to 100,000 submissions per form.
  7. Users: increase use of Formstack across the organization with the ability to create/maintain forms for up to 25 users.

Learn how get more from your existing Formstack account by partnering with NewPath. We can help you even if your organization already has a Formstack account. Book a time for a no-charge half-hour consultation with a Formstack guru, Alex Sirota.

Resources list

  1. Basic functionality
    1. Form Examples & CSS Form Design Templates | Formstack
    2. Setting up Single Sign On Authentication | Formstack
    3. Manage & Export Submissions | Formstack
  2. Calculating fields
    1. Self-Calculating Order Form
    2. Building Multi-Column Forms | Formstack
    3. Creating Calculations | Formstack
  3. Prepopulated (prefilled) fields
    1. Formstack | Pre-Populating Form Fields
    2. Pre-Populating Form Fields | Formstack
    3. Formstack 101: Pre-Populating your Form
  4. Integrations | general
    1. CRM Integration Solutions for Formstack Forms
    2. Zapier
    3. Formstack and Microsoft Dynamics CRM | Zapier
    4. Formstack & VerticalResponse Integration | Zapier
    5. Google Sheets | Formstack
    6. Gravity Forms Alternative WordPress Plugin | Formstack
    7. Gravity Forms
    8. Custom Form Themes and CSS | Formstack
  5. Integrations | Google
    1. Importing Data from CSV | Formstack
    2. Google Sheets | Formstack
  6. Security and access
    1. Security and Privacy | Formstack (an overview)
    2. Sensitive Data Help Guide | Formstack (use to determine what is sensitive/confidential)
    3. Credit Card Fields | Formstack
    4. Security and Privacy | Formstack
    5. Data Encryption | Formstack
    6. Show Me the Money: Collecting Payments with Online Forms | Formstack Blog
  7. Subscription plans and features
    1. A/B Testing | Formstack
    2. Campaign Tracking | Formstack
    3. Field Bottlenecks | Formstack
    4. Partial Submissions | Formstack

Form Examples & CSS Form Design Templates | Formstack:

  • Lead Generation
    1. Business Card
    2. Contact Form
    3. Email Newsletter
    4. Free Estimate
    5. Mobile Form
  • Miscellaneous
    1. Job Application
    2. Photography Contract
    3. Photography Release
    4. PTO Request Form
    5. Scholarship Application
  • Payment Forms
    1. Order Form
    2. Donation Form
    3. Bakery Order Form
  • Registrations
    1. Event Registration
    2. Fundraiser Form
    3. Sign Up Form
    4. Volunteer Form
  • Surveys
    1. Course Evaluation
    2. Customer Survey
    3. Follow-up Survey
    4. Research Survey

Do you need help with a Formstack form or application? As Formstack consultants, we have become very experienced with the ways Formstack can enhance and drive your sales, marketing and operational efforts. NewPath can help you even if your organization already has a Formstack account. Book a time for a no-charge half-hour consultation with a Formstack guru, Alex Sirota.


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