#4: Creating a Custom Form

The Member Assembler Custom Form allows you to collect more specific information about your customers in order for you to learn more about them. This can help to inform your decisions about your CSA or membership program so that it can better meet the needs of your members. Here are some examples of the kinds of information you can gather using your Custom Form:

  • Collect preferred product information so you can grow/produce what your customers want.
  • Get email addresses of potential new customers from member referrals.
  • Gauge your members' interest in volunteering.
  • Allow for a "comments" or "notes" section.
  • Test the popularity of new pickup locations.
      ...or anything else you would like to find out!

Your Custom Form will be included as a step in your Membership Sign-up process. A Custom Form on a Small Farm Central website could look something like this:

Form_on_a_website.PNG
   Figure 1. A Form on a Small Farm Central website.

This article will cover the basics of creating a Custom Form including:

  1. Writing the Form Item Text
  2. Choosing the Form Item Type
  3. Form Options
  4. Weight
  5. Response Required
  + Tips

Get Started!

You will be creating a Custom Form in the Control Panel. Log in and navigate to:
   Member Assembler > Configure > Custom Forms

This will take you to the "Manage Custom Form" page. Click on the “Create New Form Item” link to create the first item on your form. See below:

Manage_Custom_Form_640sharp2.PNG
   Figure 2. The Manage Custom Form page with Create New Form Item link highlighted.

Your Custom Form is broken down into "form items". Each item includes the "item text" and the "item type." Sometimes the "item type" will have "options" to choose from. The "Create New Form Item" page is where you will configure the items in your form. See below:

New_Form_Item.PNG
   Figure 3. Create New Form Items page.

1. Writing Form Item Text

Let's begin with the "item text." This is the question or statement what you would like to get a customer response from, such as: “What products are you interested in?” Type your "item text" in the box.

2. Choosing the Form Item Type

Form Item Type determines the format of the answer to the question that you wrote in the "item text" box.
The drop-down menu gives you five "item type" options:

Single-line Text
Single-line text gives the user an open text box to enter a response to your question text. This is good for short answers to open-ended queries. See below:

Single-line.PNG
  *Figure 4. Single-line Text Item Type*

Multi-line Text
Multi-line text is much the same as single-line text, except the user is given a larger text box. This is good to
suggests that a longer answer is expected and is often used for "comments" or "notes" written by the customer. See below:

Multi-lin.PNG
   Figure 5. Multi-line Text Item Type

Radio Buttons
Radio Buttons give the user a pre-defined set of responses, but only one choice can be
selected at a time. You will use the “Form Options” text field as described below to set the response options.
See below:

Radio_Buttons.PNG
   Figure 6. Radio Button Text Item Type


Checkboxes
Checkboxes are like “Radio Buttons, but the user is allowed to enter multiple responses for one question. Often it is helpful to add the disclaimer "Check all that apply" to let the customer know that they can choose more than one answer. You will use the “Form Options” text field as described below to set the response options. See below:

Checkboxes.PNG
   Figure 7. Checkboxes Text Item Type

Yes/No
Yes/No gives the user a pair of radio buttons (as described above), but there only two options:
Yes or No. See below:

Yes_No.PNG
   Figure 8. Yes/No Text Item Type

3. Form Options

The next part of the form asks for Form Options. This only applies to responses of the Checkbox or Radio Button item types; if you are selecting one of the other types, just leave the Form Option field blank.

The “Form Options” text box allows you to specify the options that you will allow the customer to choose from when responding to your query. Each option should be entered with a comma to delineate the separate response options. For example: To create the Checkbox response shown above, you would type into the “Form Options” textbox: cheese, eggplant, milk, sweet corn. This is also shown in Figure 3.

4. Weight

The weight setting determines the order that the Form Items will be listed. Lower or "lighter" weights will float items to the top of the list, while larger or "heavier" weights will sink items to the bottom. So, if you wanted a form item to show up at the top of the list, you would set a weight of -10. If you wanted a form item to show up at the bottom of the list, you would select a weight of 10.

Weights are used throughout the Small Farm Central Control Panel for putting lists in order. To learn more about them, read the "Assigning Menu Weight" article in the Website Tools section in the Knowledge Base.

5. Response Required

If you want to make sure that your customers respond to a particular question or item in your form, just check the “Response Required” checkbox when you create the item. This tool creates an error message which will show up if the user does not respond to the query. It will also block the customer from proceeding with the membership sign-up process until a response has been entered.

When you are finished, click the Save Changes button and you will return to the Manage Custom Form Page. Repeat the steps above to create all of your form items.

Tips!

• If a Form Item is no longer useful to you and you do not want users to answer it anymore, just
click the Form Item's disable button on the Manage Custom Form page
(Member Assembler > Configure > Custom Forms). Disabling the item will keep the entered data in your system, but will hide the item from new sign-ups.

• Once you have a lot of data in your custom forms, you may want to manipulate it in an outside
program. You can download an Excel spreadsheet of the custom forms responses by clicking on the "Export Responses to Excel" link on the Manage Custom Form page or by navigating
to:   *Member Assembler > Export*

Ready to move on? Read another article