In previous versions of Sitecore, forms were created through Web Forms for Marketers, which allowed users to set up simple forms on a website. These could be used for a variety of functions; from a strategic and/or sales perspective, gathering first-party data is invaluable, especially as GDPR approaches rapidly. Forms on a website are one way of being certain that you have the permission to use the information you gather, as well as helping your customers find the information they need. The new Forms module got a lot of attention at Sitecore Symposium last year; Sitecore MVP Kamruz Jaman has a great recap of the new additions to Sitecore 9 as a whole, and both he and Mike Reynolds presented the extremely informative "From Forms to Riches" during SUGCON Europe in Berlin on April 24, 2018.
I would be excited about the introduction of Sitecore Forms in Sitecore 9 if only because it means that they’re easier for content editors to use, but there are a lot of reasons to love Sitecore Forms. I’ll admit “I can now interact with the tool myself without fear of being drawn and quartered by the development team” is a weirdly specific advantage, so here are a few others that are more general but equally useful.
From a user experience perspective, multi-page forms can allow the user to exit the survey and return to it without data from the previous steps being lost (this is also a nice safety net when unforeseen technical errors trigger a form failure). They can also help your conversion rates if your form is long – some studies draw the line at anything longer than 4 fields. Single step forms are still my go-to when I’m focused on a specific call to action or an opt-in, like a newsletter signup, and those are easier to create using Sitecore Forms as well.
I’ve found the biggest advantage to multi-page forms is personalization. With the addition of multiple steps, strategists can use each individual selection a customer makes to further tailor and improve their experience. A pattern card be assigned to each selection option on a form; as the customer makes the choices that best fits their current need, the results can be specifically chosen to help them find exactly what they need at exactly the time they need it.
All hail the Sitecore gods, for they have created this beautiful functionality. Now a form can be saved as a template at any point…and that includes after being styled. Yes, that is correct – a form that has been tested and tweaked and polished by both front and back-end developers can now be stored as a template and reused at different points on a site. Why is this great? Well, for one thing it cuts down on labor. If a form can be designed, tested, and saved as a template then it can be much more easily customized and reused wherever it needs to be. It also reduces the odds that a well-meaning marketer might accidentally break something since the functionality and styling of the form have already been completed and tested. And because the template is saved and easily accessible, and I’m speaking from personal experience, the interface for Forms makes customization and personalization of a template much easier. Speaking of which…
The new Sitecore Forms application is nicely intuitive. I tip my hat to the color coding on the Design Tab, and the organization of form elements into Basic, Lists, Security, and Structure. The categories are color coded (which I love) and users can drag and drop each individual element to build their form, including adding pages to create a multi-page form as I have raved about above.
The Settings tab is the place to configure things like Styling (which is very helpful in conforming to brand standards) and activating performance tracking. Under Performance you can track the number of unique views, abandonment's, and average time spent on the form.
What Does It All Mean?
The new Sitecore Forms is not only more fun to look at, it represents Sitecore’s recent push to make Sitecore more accessible to strategists and marketers who are looking to take advantage of the excellent features it offers. TLDR; it’s not as scary looking, thank you Sitecore we appreciate it.
I’m excited to see such a useful and valuable portion of the Sitecore tool suite not only made easier to use, but with a focus on re-usability, analytics and personalization. I’d encourage all marketers and strategists to take a look at the new interface and start experimenting – I promise it’s fun!