As you begin a forms project, in the first stages of planning, here are some great questions to consider:
What data is needed?
Determine what data is needed. Also, consider the desired end-result of data that goes into other systems. You can map the process backwards, figuring out the required fields for your electronic forms and what existing data might be available to come from other systems.
Who is the intended audience?
Identify who will be filling out the forms. Are they employees, customers, vendors, or a combination?
Are the people who will be filling out the form internal or external?
External users require publicly exposed forms, preferably with SSL security. Forms must also by quite intuitive because less training will be available to outside users.
Can the form be completed on the first try?
If a form user cannot complete the form on the first try, then you will need a “save” mechanism and a process for users to return to their partially completed form. This can potentially require a login or email link to the form.
Any Special Considerations?
Does the form require special consideration for users, for example different languages?
What is the typical route for a user to find that form and to navigate to it?
Determine where you want the form to be located. For example, will there be a link to the form from a Web site, or will it be available by a link in an email?
Can certain fields be pre-populated?
Can fields in the form utilize data that is already available in an existing system? For example, can an email address be captured and used to pre-populate a physical address. Pre-populating fields speeds up form completion.
Will the form ever need to be printed or scanned?
Forms can be built of any size, but if printing is ever required, 8.5 by 11 is a good standard.
Is there data on the form that should be concealed or redacted after entry?
For example social security number or credit card data.