Did you know that 80% of small to mid-sized businesses are working to switch from paper forms to digital alternatives?
This switch comes at a time when the call for more sustainable business operations has never before been as pressing. Because they reduce paper use and the associated environmental costs, digital forms are a more sustainable option.
In addition, digital forms can store data more securely for data transfer and boost data collection efficiency. It’s clear, in this instance, digital wins the paper-vs-digital debate.
With this in mind, in this FAT FINGER article, we explain what digital forms are and how they can benefit your business, before listing our top 6 digital form building applications. Each application has been chosen based on its unique focus. When used together, these apps will meet all your form-building needs.
- What is a digital form?
- Digital vs paper: Why businesses need to switch to digital forms
- Create your digital forms using these top 6 form building apps
With that said, let’s jump to it!
What is a digital form?
A digital form collates, organizes, and stores data online, removing the need for a physical copy. Examples of digital forms include expense reports, timesheets, safety reports, and surveys or inspections.
A digital form reproduces all the elements of a paper form plus more. For example, you can add text, checkboxes, signatures, sketches and diagrams. Digital forms are vital for businesses operating in today’s digital industry.
What can digital forms offer that paper alternatives can’t?
Using modern technology, digital forms can offer more than paper alternatives. For instance, with a digital form you can:
- Take photos using a digital device and upload these into your form.
- Automatically detect your geographical location and indicate GPS data or addresses in your form reports.
- Offer complete lists with options. The user can then simply select the relevant option. This improves clarity.
- Automatically populate several fields at once.
- Create dynamic forms that present and remove questions according to the previous responses given.
- Record voice messages using voice dictation technology that’s available on most smartphones.
- Scan barcodes and NFC tags.
- Automatically pass form data between applications. For instance, by connecting your digital form to your email, you can automatically send an email from this form.
- Make certain fields mandatory to ensure the necessary information is captured.
- Securely store your digital form in the cloud, and adjust user permissions as required.
Digital vs paper: Why businesses need to switch to digital forms
Digital forms offer more than traditional paper alternatives, making the paper-to-digital switch a no-brainer. With more options, going digital brings its own set of unique advantages.
Digital forms are more eco-friendly than paper alternatives
Creating more sustainable business operations must be high on the agenda for proactive corporations wanting long-term profitability. And, by reducing the demand for paper, going digital is considered to be more environmentally friendly by many.
The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. And 45% of this printed paper ends up in the trash every day. It’s estimated by the Climate Group that digital applications could replace up to 25% of paper consumption.
In November 2021, during COP26, more than 100 countries promised to halt or reverse forest loss and land degradation by the end of 2030. Making the digital switch means your business will support this goal.
Digital forms will save you time
With digital forms, information can be collected and saved on location to be sent to other applications automatically. This is thanks to digital form automation. You can also use this form automation to enter data and automatically populate subsequent fields.
Digital form automation is sure to save you heaps of time. Just consider the average office worker who spends 40% of their time on repetitive, manual tasks. This includes sending emails, data collection, and data entry. Automation reduces this manual labor, meaning employees are free to invest their time on more profitably.
In addition, with digital forms, you can erase and edit human error with a few clicks. This means no more tippex or discarding incorrect forms in the trash to start again.
Digital forms allow easy transmission of information and secure storage
Let’s consider the following hypothetical scenario. You’ve hit the month’s end, and it’s payday. You’re in charge of collating employee timesheet forms. The problem is, your employees are distributed across the globe. With paper timesheets, how would you access a form if the physical copy is halfway around the world?
With digital forms, time and space are no longer a boundary. With the right permission settings, anyone can access the form as required, at any moment. Your employee timesheets are there, in the Cloud, accessible with the click of a button.
Data security could be viewed as being more of a risk with digital forms. However, you can edit the permission settings to secure information and meet data privacy regulations. In contrast, with paper documents, there’s always the risk of these being left open to view on desks, being physically stolen or lost in transit.
Create your digital forms using these top 6 form building apps
The best bit about digital forms is the amount of help available to build them. There are several applications specifically designed to ease the form creation process. These app tools allow you to operate more sustainably, save you time, boost your efficiency, help you transmit data internationally, and keep your data secure.
At FAT FINGER we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve had a look at the form-building apps available, and compiled a list of those that hit the top spot. The form-building apps listed below have been chosen based on their compatibility. Each app has a unique focus, but when the apps from this list are used together, your form-building needs will be met.
Form building app #1: Google Forms
Use Google Forms to create digital forms quickly and for free.
Google Forms is a survey tool that’s free for individuals and businesses with a Google account. There are no limitations on surveys, questions, or responses. All you need is a Google account.
Google Forms includes the basic form fields you’d expect. There are options for short and long answer text boxes, checkboxes, multiple-choice selections, dropdown menus, file uploads plus more.
You can also set questions as required or optional, add images and videos, build quiz-like forms and add basic conditional logic. And if all this isn’t enough, you can add extra fields and features with Google Forms add-ons.
Google Forms does however have its limitations. The types of questions can be limited, and the survey logic isn’t all that robust, plus there’s not much room to customize your forms.
Price: It’s free
Form building app #2: Microsoft Forms
Use Microsoft Forms to collect and analyze form results in Excel.
Microsoft Forms is your Microsoft equivalent to Google Sheets, working largely in the same way. You have to pay for your Microsoft account to gain access, but with that, the forms feature is free. However, unlike Google Sheets, Microsoft Forms comes with an added analysis functionality thanks to its integration with Excel.
When you’ve finished building your form, you can distribute the form via a direct link or an embedded code that adds the form to a website. The Microsoft Forms interface allows you to quickly gain an overview of the responses given. Alternatively, you can open the responses in an Excel spreadsheet for some detailed data digging.
There are however limitations with Microsoft Forms. For instance, you can only ask 100 questions in each form, plus the user can’t save the form to submit their response later. Once more, there’s a 4000 max character length for textual responses, limiting the answers given.
Price: Free with your Microsoft account. Microsoft Business Basic Plan starts is $5.00 per user per month, the Standard Business Plan is $12.50 per user per month and Premium Business Plan is $20.00 per user per month.
Form building app #3: FAT FINGER
Use FAT FINGER to create dynamic and complex form templates.
FAT FINGER has more advanced form building capabilities than Google and Microsoft Forms. You can create customizable forms that include conditional logic, e-signatures, long-form, and short-form textual responses, video and image compatibility, automation plus data capture, and transfer. Forms can be filled in real-time for instantaneous data collection and reporting.
One of the best features of FAT FINGER for form creation is its automation capability. Information from a FAT FINGER form can be passed to other apps and forms, streamlining the flow of information through your business.
Despite the complexity, form creation is easy using FAT FINGER’s drag-and-drop form builder. It’s an application built for non-IT experts, meaning anyone, regardless of their experience level, can use this app.
Once more, FAT FINGER is the leader in enterprise-grade mobile forms. This means complex, dynamic forms can be created and shared, all from a mobile device.
There’s a limitation here though if you need to pass data between FAT FINGER forms. At present, there’s no way to redirect users from one form to another and then bring them back to the first form to finish up. This is something FAT FINGER is working to change. Watch this space!
Price: The Standard Plan is $8 per user per month. The Pro Plan is $15 per user per month.
Form building app #4: Typeform
Use Typeform for conversational-style data collection.
Typeform tosses away the old conventions of a long page of questions and response fields. A Typeform form will show one question at a time while blurring out the others giving the submission process a conversational and intimate appeal. The respondent can tap a designated key on their keyboard to select multiple-choice options, sort through dropdown menu options and press Enter to jump to the next field.
Typeform also offers a unique form style called chatbot-style forms. You can convert most forms to this form style with one click. This chatbot form is a computer program that simulates human conversation (either written or spoken), allowing users to interact with digital devices as if they were communicating with a real person.
It must be noted that concerns have been raised over Typeform’s free option, with users stating that this option is too limiting while the paid options are expensive. As a limitation, this is subjective and depends on your cost-benefit analysis for using the software in your business.
Price: Free plan available. The Basic Plan is $25 per month. The Plus Plan is $54 per month. Business Plan is $66 per month.
Form building app #5: Pabbly
Use Pabbly to create forms you can respond to.
Pabbly is an intuitive and user-friendly tool. Like FAT FINGER, Pabbly uses a simple drag-and-drop editor with a large library of question types. This includes radio buttons, dropdown lists, and personal information boxes. Users can pick questions and move them around to re-arrange the form as needed.
The unique feature of Pabbly is that it lets you respond to form submissions directly. From your dashboard, click on individual submissions, find the text box that will let you type a message, send a reply to the user, and mark the response as resolved or hold (if you need to return to the conversation at a later date). This isn’t quite the same as having a full customer service suite, but it’s a quick way to let people ask you questions or submit comments.
Pabbly is, however, limited by delays in the software. This includes time lags between when forms are updated and when the results show on a webpage. This limitation has been noted by the Pabbly team who are working to resolve it.
Price: The Tier 1 Plan is $15 per user per month. Pricing increases incrementally up to the Tier 17 Plan which is $1500 per month.
Form building app #6: Formsite
Use Formsite for protecting sensitive data.
If you need to ensure your form data has maximum security, then Formsite is the forms tool for you. With Formsite you can encrypt text in specific form fields, meaning responses are scrambled to appear unintelligible to individuals that don’t have permission to view them. Formsite also comes with built-in payment processing integrations, integrating with apps such as PayPal and Stripe. This means you can use encrypted fields to directly accept credit cards or ACH data through your form.
Formsite also lets you reuse data meaning you don’t have to recreate a form over and over again. Or, why not link multiple forms together, so that responses from one form can be pulled over to populate another form?
A slight limitation of Formsight comes from the form’s design. This design is starting to look out of date and isn’t responsive on mobile. If you’re looking for mobile-friendly form-building software, you’re better off with software like FAT FINGER, which is designed with mobile applications in mind.
Price: The Delux Plan is $21 per month. The Pro Plan is $34 per month. The Pro 2 Plan is $59 per month. Pro 3 starts at $84 per month. The Enterprise Plan is $209.
Save paper and start creating your digital forms today
In the digital-vs-paper debate, when it comes to business form creation, digital wins. Digital forms save users time, securely store data for data transfer, and help businesses operate more sustainably by saving paper.
Using the 6 form-building apps given in this article, you’re all set to start creating digital forms for your business. Whether you’re wanting to create conversational-style forms in Pabbly, or you want to introduce greater form complexity using FAT FINGER, you can use the applications in this list to cover all your form building needs.
Let’s do our bit, save paper and go digital.