FormsPlus

FormsPlus | Chillidog Software | $29.95

If you’ve ever wished you could add one of those multi-step forms to your Rapidweaver website but weren’t sure how to go about it, then you’re going to love FormsPlus from Chillidog Software. Although making a complex, multi step responsive form is necessarily a bit laborious, this stack takes all the heavy lifting out of it, so you can concentrate on the structure and design of your form; and of course, once you’ve built a few of these, you’ll be able to save parts of them as partials for re-use in other projects – which means the more you use it, the quicker it’ll get.

So let’s see what you get for your thirty bucks.

Although FormsPlus comes as a single stack, it has a multitude of options. First, having dropped the stack onto the page you can create Steps which then appear at the top, bottom, left or right of the form; there are seven built-in styles and each step can be named and described, so visitors can understand what they’re supposed to be doing. In addition, you can drop other stacks into the form – for example text and images – which makes it possible to create rich and interesting guides, surveys, step by steps and all manner of other interactive forms for gathering data from your visitors.

Having created a step the next stage is to add form elements. There are 19 to choose from and along with those you’d expect – like text, text area, email address and telephone number – you’ll find some fancy ones as well. We particularly like the Range Slider element which displays a left-to-right slider where you can define minimum and maximum figures – perhaps a price range or number of days for a B&B stay – and have visitors drag it to select the number they require. It’s a nice, friendly and visual alternative to using a drop-down list or having them type it into a number field.

There’s also an excellent file upload option which aside from looking good also has some clever behind-the-scenes tech which allows visitors to upload files as large as 2GB without you having to do any tinkering on the server side.

There are lots of other form elements that you’ll find useful – radio buttons, check boxes and select menus – but we also wanted to highlight the date picker, which is a natural way for visitors to pick start and end dates for accommodation, courses, tours and so on. Every element on the form can be marked as ‘required’ to ensure that your visitors don’t miss out vital information, you can put placeholder text inside fields to help complete them correctly and it’s easy to add help text adjacent to any field on the form.

Once you’ve built the form, you then move on to stage two – designing a receipt template which will be sent out automatically to anyone who fills in the form, and then designing one or more submission templates which will define which parts of the form are actually submitted and allows you to specify the email addresses they’re sent to. In this way for example, you might have the bulk of the completed form sent to one email address and have other elements – perhaps a completed competition entry – sent to a different address; and of course, you can email a copy of the completed form to your visitor.

It’s possible to re-direct visitors to a separate page depending on whether the form is completed successfully or not and it’s even possible to have form activity tracked via Google Analytics, which some will find useful for understanding how visitors are interacting with the form.

At $29.95, FormsPlus is one of the more expensive stacks we’ve reviewed but its feature set and flexibility make it excellent value for money and it takes form design and delivery onto a whole new level for Rapidweaver users.

Rob Beattie

Rob Beattie is a freelance copywriter who designs sites using Rapidweaver. He's been reviewing computer hardware, software and web services since 1981. Yes...that long. And he's also the author of 101 Things to Do in a Shed , Fishing: A Very Peculiar History , and The Bluffer's Guide to Fishing

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