Building forms is hard. It requires creating the form elements with HTML. Customizing the design with CSS. Using JavaScript for error checking, and other interaction. Then once the submit button has been pressed, one must receive the submission and process it. Using a server side language such as PHP or Python, you take the request and handle the data. Typically it might be stored in a database, sent in a notification, or sent off to the third party service, such as a contact manager.

Web development projects are often on a tight schedule with limited budget. Sure some firms like to do everything in house, but in many cases this is not practical. Oftentimes web designers are skilled at building a web site, but don’t want to take the time to build a form. It takes a lot of work to connect all the pieces and ensure it’s working as expected.

This is where web online form builders come in. Using an online form builder you can quickly build a form, and set it up to handle your submissions as you would like. JotForm provides a compelling full featured solution, which also happens to be free!

JotForm’s Form Builder

JotForm’s Form Builder

JotForm comes with two main components:

  • JotForm’s Form Builder
  • JotForm’s Form Designer

It’s simple, really. Build your form with the form builder, which entails adding fields in which users will interact with the form. The most basic of these include text fields, file upload fields, radio buttons, and similar. The most advanced include selecting options from a matrix, voice recorders, and embedded camera widgets, to send photos.

Part of the build process entails setting up defining what to do with the submissions once they’re received. By default they’re sent to the user’s email address. They can also be integrated with many third party sites such as SalesForce, Google Docs, or email contact managers. A popular integration option is to set up an online store, and integrate it with a payment vendor, such as PayPal.


JotForm Form Designer

JotForm Form Designer

Once the functionality of the form is built, it’s time to design it. JotForm’s recently released Form Designer is an unprecedented design tool. It turns building CSS into a simple point and click exercise. It has three methods to customize one’s form design:

  • The most commonly customized fields are included on the design tab. Colors, layouts, width, backgrounds, fonts can all be adjusted through the Design interface.
  • The CSS Helper is the tool front end developers have been waiting for. Select the form element you’d like, select the property you’d like to adjust, and enter a valid value. The CSS is built in seamlessly.
  • Edit the CSS manually. For seasoned designers, they still have the ability to write and customer CSS exactly as they like.

JotForm provides and easy path though. For those that prefer to start with pre-built forms and designs they can:

Templates comprise common sets of field elements geared for specific purposes. To some degree, all contact forms are similar. Find one that matches what you want, and start there. It can then be fine tuned in the Form Builder.

Similarly, form designs can be found in the Theme Store. Select the look and feel you want, and import it into your form. These are built by JotForm users, and are offered for free or for a small fee. It can be adjusted with the Form Designer, if desired.

JotForm Theme Store

JotForm Theme Store

JotForm offers all these tools for free. Paid accounts are for high volume users, but functionality isn’t curtailed just because a user has a basic account. Even setting up and online store and accepting payments is available to free users.