Archive for May, 2011

WordPress Makes Online Forms Easy

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

I want to ask you about making a form that people can fill out online. Right now I have this application form for volunteers and people have to download it, fill it out scan it and send it back. This appears to be a bit much for the less tech-savvy among us so I want to make it a bit simpler.

This message showed up one morning from Lori Carlson, President of the Ponheary Ly Foundation. Last year, I transferred the PLF’s website from Joomla to WordPress making it much easier for Lori and her volunteers to update. When it came time to add a “Contact Us” page I picked the Contact Form 7 plugin. Would it work for a longer form? I quickly replied knowing that in Cambodia, Lori would be heading to bed, and I wanted her to know I was on it.

I knew the form she was talking about: a 3 page PDF with questions volunteers fill out and email or snail mail back to the Lori. In a couple of minutes, I created a new WordPress page with a couple of sample questions from the form: a text field, a longer text area and a checkbox. A couple of mouse clicks later, I confirmed the basic validation worked and received the email. In less than an hour, Lori received the emails and a link for her review.

The amazing thing about working 11 timezones away is you work while they sleep and vice verse. At the end of the day, I received the go ahead and started adding all 37 questions, formatting the layout and editing the email templates. By the time Lori’s day was over, she had a complete volunteer form to review.

A couple of revisions later, we not only had an online form automatically emailed to the Foundation, but we also improved the navigation surrounding volunteering making the steps clearer and easier to follow.

Lori, Ponheary and everyone associated with the PLF do amazing work for the children in Cambodia. It’s very rewarding to be a small part of it.