Webforms Guide

Online forms are a great way to connect with your users, gather needed information from them, and move away from pen-and-paper methods of collecting and processing data. We’ve all filled out online forms before, from subscribing to a newsletter to giving feedback or entering a contest. In almost any case in which you need to extract information from your audience for analysis, you can use a form.

Many online tools bring form creation to your fingertips — no HTML, javascript, or server-side coding experience required. On GovHub, content managers can use a content type called Webforms to create a simple form in minutes. 

But while technology makes it easy to get started, good results come from effective form design.

When you create an online form, you need users to take the time to accurately respond to the prompts you provide. We cannot take those expectations for granted; we have to design for them.

Who Should Use This Guide?

This guide, while written primarily with GovHub customers in mind, contains several guidelines and tips for online forms on any platform. The next two sections in particular, Form Best Practices and Making a Plan for Your Form, contain lots of platform-agnostic, strategic information that will help anyone working with interactive content.

Throughout the guide, we use the term “Webform” which refers specifically to the Webform Drupal content type available on GovHub sites.

When Should You Use Webform?

You can use online forms to collect questions, feedback, complaints, event registration, requests for documents or photos, and so much more. Nearly any reason that someone might need to get in touch with an agency could be cause for a form.

Aside from data collection, Webforms can help users figure out their next steps or navigate a complex process. Through the power of conditional logic, editors can set up Webforms to gather answers from the user and immediately respond with related information or follow-up prompts. This is one simple way to customize users’ experience, helping them find what they need faster and easier.

Form Limitations

Communication with forms is asynchronous, meaning that the two parties can’t easily go back and forth. On the one hand, this is a great benefit because it means the user can fill out the form when it’s convenient for them, even outside of normal business hours. However, most contact forms will need to collect some type of contact information from the user (phone number, email address, etc.) to continue the conversation.