Improve WordPress With a Powerful Plugin

Build your own user survey forms

Formidable Pro User SurveyCredit: Javrsmith

WordPress does a great job of handling content in the form of pages and posts. Administrators have come to appreciate the ease with which the content management system allows sites to organize such information. Unfortunately, standard WordPress does not handle interaction with users very well. While it has always been possible to bind in custom programs to perform such tasks as user surveys, the normal WordPress installation cannot be used to gather such data. Even for mundane tasks like receiving user comments has been a complicated affair with normal WordPress. There is no built-in facility to combat spam, store comments in accessible database tables or report on such user involvement. Luckily, the Formidable Pro plugin is available which gives WordPress administrators total control of user input. With it, a meaningful user survey is easy to implement completely within the content management system - with no programming!

Formidable Pro User SurveyCredit: Javrsmith

The secret to a good user survey is to build an HTML form that can receive user input and store it as data in tables. In the past, this required an HTML program, PHP scripts for integration, some JavaScript for data validation, some SQL to interface with the database and possibly some advanced database design. Naturally, such tasks required significant amounts of time. As well, the steps required were fairly complicated and subject to errors. Many designers of surveys have spent countless hours tracking down odd problems which eventually turned out to be simple spelling mistakes within an HTML or PHP program. The problem hasn't been isolated to WordPress, however. From the dawn of the Internet in the 1990's, implementing user surveys has been a laborious process on the Internet. With Formidable Pro, the process is made incredibly simpler. This frees up the WordPress administrator to concentrate on the definition of the user survey, what should be done with data received and other fine points concerning the whole survey. What is not a concern of the administrator is the amount of programming necessary to accomplish a useful user survey. With WordPress and Formidable Pro, the amount of programming is absolutely zero.

In the example user survey, Formidable Pro was used to implement a realistic form. It asks for a number of different items. The first field requested is a date element. The free version of Formidable Pro cannot enforce a date entry while the premium version can. The next question prompts the user with a radio button. They may select only one of the given choices. Next, a question asks the user to provide the number of years that they have worked at their current organization. The free Formidable Pro cannot validate the response as a number but the premium version can. Next, a series of yes/no radio buttons are used to query the user for their responses to a number of questions. With this, a useable survey can be implemented completely within a WordPress site.

With such a survey, a WordPress administrator can establish a number of questions, ask the user to categorize themselves and obtain meaningful responses, all with a free version of Formidable Pro that requires no programming. Interestingly, the free version of Formidable Pro provides all of the functionality required to implement this kind of survey. Why then, would you consider the premium version? After all, free is great, isn't it? The free version of this form building plugin for WordPress is quite excellent. In fact, some administrators can use it to build all of the user survey forms that they would ever need. Why then, would you want to use the premium version of the Formidable Pro plugin?

The free Formidable Pro plugin lets administrators build web forms on WordPress sites that use a few standard HTML input fields. Single line text, multiple line text, drop down select, check boxes and radio buttons are supported by the free version. This list is quite impressive, for a free programming utility, especially when you consider that these form fields can be used without any HTML, PHP, JavaScript of SQL coding. Even so, the premium version of Formidable Pro is far more capable and is easily worth the $47 fee.

WordPress with Formidable Pro ScreenCredit: Javrsmith

With the premium, site license, version of the Formidable Pro plugin, the number of form input types is greatly expanded. The extra fields give forms the ability to receive automatically validated data. Email addresses, phone numbers, dates, times and numbers can be defined on the form. Formidable Pro enforces data validation rules for these items. No programming is required of the WordPress administrator, naturally. Other very useful data entry types are the file upload, rich text and scale options. Rich text allows a user survey to accept text formatted with bold or italic font, etc. The scale input field allows users to choose their answer from a range of 1 to 10.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the Formidable Pro site license version is the "Data from entries" input field. This allows WordPress administrators to establish a drop down field that is limited to entries stored in a database table. It can be used, for example, to give user survey respondents a list of states from which they choose their state of residence. Only the valid states stored in the database are available to the user. This allows data to be normalized from the user. No misspellings, abbreviations or punctuation will be present in the user responses. Since the data comes from a database, the list can easily be expanded by the administrator. While this makes little sense for an item such as state, it does have more applicability to other data forms such as a product sales category. The data from entries field, allowing easy validation of user input from a database table, is very powerful. The fact that this feature requires no programming or advanced database design is amazing. Formidable Pro really boosts the productivity of WordPress form design with this feature.

Those WordPress administrators who operate multiple sites will be pleased to know that there is an unlimited site license version available to them for only $117. With it, the premium license of Formidable Pro can be installed on any number of the administrator's sites. This version also includes priority response to any support issues that may arise.

With the Formidable Pro plugin, WordPress administrators now have all of the tools they need to create their own custom forms. With a little practice with the tool, they can learn how to create user survey forms using WordPress. This is a valuable addition to any WordPress content management site.