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How To Create Data Entry Forms With WordPress

By Edited Jul 9, 2015 0 1

Use the Formidable Pro Premium Plugin

WordPress and Formidable Pro
WordPress is an excellent CMS, or content management system. It was first developed to be a news and comment platform for blog purposes. The CMS has been greatly improved since WordPress was first made available. WordPress now has evolved into a general purpose tool that allows administrators to organize virtually any kind of information, whether text or image. Unfortunately, the basic WordPress installations lack tools that allow for the creation of data entry forms. The only data that can be received from users are visitor comments and not much else. Certainly, data items that are required for adequate order entry or tracking purposes. Luckily, there are plugins, or code extensions, for WordPress that can extend the system with form creation abilities. One such plugin Formidable Pro, an excellent form design tool that also provides display capabilities. Now WordPress administrators have robust tools necessary to create sophisticated data entry forms.

Formidable Pro installs in WordPress as a plugin. It adds new options to the dashboard such as form creation, data entry display and more. Once it is installed, site administrators can use it to create new forms immediately. For data entry purposes, a form might include fields that are relevant for specific purposes. Fox example, a customer data entry form might have fields for name, address, email and other personal information. Formidable Pro provides validation tools for such fields. Entries can be restricted to specific values such as "YES" or "NO". Numeric fields can enforce rules that only allow numbers. These can be restricted to certain ranges such as from 0 to 100 for percentages. State locations can be validated using a list of correct values. Such data rules are an excellent way to ensure quality data entry into forms. Performing data validation at the earliest opportunity is a good programming practice. In addition to validations, Formidable Pro allows the site administrator to add extra features to created forms. Drop down lists of choices can be added. This allows a visitor to choose a valid item, (such as a color), from acceptible values. Getting the data correct before it is stored is a good way to prevent future data problems.

While Formidable Pro can be installed in one of two modes, free and paid, data entry forms are really only supported in the paid one. The free version is capable providing some features but it lacks most of the advanced capabilities. This version can accept data entry such as name, address, etc. There is no database storage option, however, so all input must be emailed to the WordPress site administrator. Since there is no data storage, there is no display capability either. The free Formidable Pro version does includes CAPTCHA validation which is an excellent way to eliminate spam from robots.

The Formidable Pro paid version is the true powerhouse in data entry forms. All use form entries are saved automatically in a database. The field values can be retrieved as reports, used in programs or downloaded as spreadsheets. After a form collects data, Formidable Pro allows advanced system processes. For example, a confirmation page can be displayed after the "OK" is pressed. Collected email address can be appended to an email distribution list. Automatic WordPress user registration can be enabled. These options, and several more, are easily by any WordPress administrator using the Formidable Pro dashboard entires available with the paid version.

The Formidable Pro paid version plugin lists for only $47. Compared to the cost of dedicated programmers, Formidable Pro is a great value. The plugin allows anyone to create a data entry form in minutes, without any custom programming. A similar form designed and implemented as a custom program or sub-routine would require at least an hour of development time. Depending on the needs of such a form, the time required could be substantially more as well. To match the full features provided by Formidable Pro, the custom program would need to have a database table defined in advance. It would need to connect to the database, retrive items, display them in an HTML form, accept input and store the corrected values back to the database. Each of these steps takes a lot of time to implement by a developer. Add to this the time to automatically register users, redirect to custom screens and develop data entry displays and you begin to see how much work is saved by Formidable Pro. The low cost of $47 is a temendous value which is recouped easily on just the first form created on the WordPress site.
WordPress with Formidable Pro Screen

While Formidable Pro is an easy tool to use, there is a need for administrators to learn some basics before they are truly profient at creating data entry forms. Luckily, an excellent support site provides tutorials and a knowledge base which provides all of the information needed. In addition, the site offers an excellent support mechanism. The tool designers monitor questions received and they provide solutions quickly. There is a wealth of information available on the support site from articles to tutorials to videos. Most any WordPress administrator will find the information they need in the format that works best for them. This is a great plus for a data entry form building tool, one that is lacking on most other such tools.

The paid version of Formidable Pro also comes with add-ons that enhance the WordPress CMS even more. These optional extras are configured in the plugin folder as desired. An easy to use PayPal expansion very useful. This add-on allows forms to re-direct to PayPay for payment services. Once installed, it is available as an option on all developed forms. It works well and is free with the paid Formidable Pro version. Another add-on adds  email mailing list support with the Mailchimp service. An administrator creates a Mailchimp account, and a distribution list, which can enabled with developed data entry forms. When people submit their email address on a data entry form, they can automatically be added to an appropriate mailing list. The feature is activated per data entry form so administrators have full control of the lists that are used. For example, a WordPress site may have a data entry form that collects addresses of people interested in a trial offer. These people can be added to a "Trial User" distribution list. Other people may wish to see advanced options. These people could be added to a "Advanced User" list. The add-on module that supports the Mailchimp interface is easy to installed. Once in place, it allows email list additions with just a few mouse clicks. As usual, there is no custom programming involved when these free add-ons are used.

Formidable Pro is a great plugin that can greatly enhance any WordPress site. It features capabilities that usually require many hours of development effort by experienced programmers. With Formidable Pro, previously difficult tasks, such as custom data entry forms, can be developed in minutes, by regular WordPress administrators, without any custom programming. At a cost of only $47, the paid version is a deal, possibly the best value available for WordPress today.


Jun 8, 2012 12:03pm
A great plugin but a little tricky to get your head around at first . . .
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