Heads-up, all. We’ve got a new addition to the Wufoo family to introduce you to–Mr. Michael Lim. You’ll be seeing a lot more of Michael on this humble blog of ours so be sure to read. And read closely!
Hi there, form fans! I’m Michael, the newest member of the Wufoo support team. Although I’m originally from Kailua, HI, I graduated from the University of Puget Sound in May and immediately moved down to California. Since then, when I’m not catching up on some sorely missed sunshine, I’ve been learning what Wufoo is all about. I figured this would be a great chance to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work with Wufoo as a brand new user and share my tips along the way.
(Like our Back To Basics series, if you’re an experienced Wufoo user this post could be a little repetitive for you. But if you’ve got the time, you may want to stick around. You might just learn something new)
Here we go!
When I first got started with Wufoo, the most difficult thing for me was keeping track of all the different features and their terminology. But once I had some time to get used to it, I found that it all started to make sense. For those of you who–like me–are just starting out with Wufoo, here’s a rundown of some of the most often mixed-up terms and phrases:
Words in Wufoo AKA Terms Cheatsheet
Entry: Simply put, an Entry is a single submission of a form. It’s what we measure for your monthly limits, and it’s also how your data is stored for later viewing. In other words, when someone fills out your form, and hits the “Submit” button, that creates an Entry containing the submitted information. This is what gets stored in the Entry Manager the page that shows when you click the “Entries” button under each form.
User: This is a pretty commonly used word, so it’s important to understand what it means in Wufoo. Generally, this refers to someone filling out your form. Whether they used one of the public form links, or your form was embedded on a site, people who fill out your forms are considered users. However, on paid plans, multiple “users” can be created on a single account. To simplify things, it may help to think of these same-account “users” as sub-users, since they have access to the account “under” the main user who created the account.
Account Creator: Technically this refers to a special user on each account. Usually this is the account belonging to the person who first made the Wufoo account, and on Gratis accounts, it’s the only user for the account. However, the Account Creator may be updated after the initial creation, for example if an employee leaves a company, they may pass the account to their successor.
Form Manager: The heart and soul of Wufoo. Sometimes referred to as the “main” page. The Form Manager is what you see when you first login, and it’s where you can access all of your forms, as well as the Entry Manager, Rule Builder, Notifications, and other settings for each form
Form Builder: This is where the magic happens. This is what you’re shown if you click the “Edit” button under a form on the Form Manager. With the Form Builder you can add fields, modify existing fields and their settings, and adjust the Form Settings.
Notifications: These are emails that can be sent to any address that you pre-define in the Notifications menu (via the Form Manager), or in the Form Rules section of the Rule Builder. They are usually used to send a copy of an entry to a relevant party. For example, if you have a Vacation Request form that your employees fill out, you can use Notifications to send a copy of their submission to an HR rep for verification.
Confirmation: The Confirmation email can only be sent to an email address that is part of a form entry. Only one address can receive the Confirmation for a particular entry. You can also choose to send a copy of the entry as part of the email body. Perfect for any situation where your users may want to retain the information they submitted for their records.
Private: You can set a form to “Private” by unchecking the “Public” box next to the form in the Form Manager. This means a form will only be accessible through your account. You (and any sub-users on a paid account) can still submit entries from within the Entry manager for the Private form, but the form can not be submitted using a link or embed code.
Protected: Clicking the “Protect” button under a form in the Form Manager allows you to restrict publicly available forms so that they can only be accessed by individuals with the password. This allows for a somewhat semi-private form, in that others unassociated with your Wufoo account can submit entries, but they first need the password. This can be useful if you’re running a private giveaway on your site, and only want users who were emailed a promo code to be able to submit an entry.
Fun Feature Time in Wufoo
So far in my brief time with Wufoo, I’ve discovered a few features I’m particularly fond of. And some fun little surprises along the way.
Template Gallery: It wasn’t until after I had already started making a few forms that I took a look at the Form Gallery. This collection of ideas and examples is a great place to start when designing a new form. Chances are, there’s an existing template that you can use for almost any kind of form you could need. Browsing through the Gallery has also given me some ideas for things Wufoo can do that I would have never expected.
CSS Keywords: Wufoo has some nifty CSS Keywords that make some rather complex layouts achievable with just a few words, no selectors or tags required. Some of my favorites are:
hide: Probably one of the most useful. Allows you to make a field invisible to users. Great for including internal information like tracking codes.
hideSeconds: Hides the “seconds” portion of a Time field. I’ve found that I rarely need to collect this level of detail in my forms, so hiding it can save some time.
altInstruct: Moves a field’s instructions under the field, instead of to the side. The altInstruct setting also ensures that instructions are constantly showing. I found this was useful for particularly important instructions that I wanted to always be visible, since the standard “pop up” box on the side can be overlooked. I generally use the standard instructions setting as more of a “tool tip” function, for advice or suggestions on how to fill out a field.
Make new fields (but keep the old): One thing to watch out for is modifying or deleting old fields on a form. Data in existing entries is tied to the actual field that was used on the form, so if you make any changes, or get rid of that field, then the data in your previous entries can be affected. To avoid losing your collected information, try to avoid removing fields from your form once you’ve received entries. Instead, set them to Admin Only or hide them using CSS Keywords to preserve the data in old entries but hide them from on your live form.
Forms Gallery: In college, I often found a need to collect basic information for group projects, club meetings, or just managing my to-do list. More often than not, I used a simple spreadsheet to gather and organize my data. Sometimes I would use Google Form if I needed a little more structure, but I never considered trying a full featured form builder. After using Wufoo for just a short time, I’ve realized I was missing out. Using a template from the Gallery, I can have a form up and running in minutes plus I get the added bonus of built-in Reports, customizable themes, and so much more.
Zapier: I’m always looking for ways to organize and automate my life. Wufoo’s integration with Zapier, a gateway to connecting with dozens of other services, opens up a world of possibilities. Got a booking form, and you want reservation entries to be added to your Google Calendar? Done. Using a form to gather bug reports? Let Zapier automatically create a JIRA Issue. Still not satisfied? Check out the hundreds of other possibilities. (Note: You’ll need a paid Zapier plan to use their “Premium Services.” We don’t have any sort of deal with them, we just appreciate their awesomeness)
And there you have it. Just a few tips to help guide my fellow Wufoo newbies along their way to becoming Wufoo masters. For those of you more advanced readers who stuck with us, thanks for hanging in there! Have advice of your own? Share it with us in the Comments below.
Until next time, friends…