Last time we blogged about online forms, we waxed poetic about the use of widgets on your homepage to display your forms. But widgets are just one place and one way to show users where they can go. This blog will focus on three other ways to point users to your forms:
Using the Header and Footer
Creating a badge for your forms
Using Categories and Tags
The Header and Footer
Many states have elected to put a link to their self-help forms in their header and footer. This allows two links for the forms on every page a users visits. The downside is that these links are at the very top and the very bottom of the page, and some users may overlook them, which is why most states also display their forms in another way on their site.
A note about language: States typically use “Forms” or “Self-Help Forms”- but consider using action words in your text as well. For example of Colorado (above) uses “Fill Out Forms” instead.
Creating a Site Badge
Some sites have decided the best way to display the link to their forms page is through a site badge or button. Minnesota does this in a sidebar widget, and New York has a version of this in one of their home page widgets. This provides a graphic way for users to see the link to your forms page which jumps out from the other components of your home page. However, you cannot list out the various forms you may have, like you can in a regular editor or a widget (described above). Just another option to think about, especially if you are considering involving sidebar editor that will display across your site.
Categories and Tags
The final way to call out your forms is to use categories and tags when you are organizing your resources. Many states use one of the methods above AND this one, to ensure their users can find the forms they are looking for.
Some states use a category within a specific channel (such as Know Your Rights > Forms) while others created channel dedicated to forms. Having a dedicated channel promotes visibility, and adds another component to the left hand navigation bar (something to consider if you have a crowded page), while having a category for forms may not provide the prominence of a channel, for better or worse.
Tags are still the new kid on the block, but they are worth a mention. Tagging can be very helpful, and setting up a tag type for forms, specifying different tags for form letters, interactive interviews, and .doc/.pdf downloadable forms would allow another way for your users to view your forms from your resource list. Bonus points because you can use these tags when you create a content page! For more information on tags, click here.
Feel free to contact us (or leave a comment below) with other ideas as to how you highlight your forms, and as always if you’d like to talk over how you may implement these ideas on your site, reach out to your Pro Bono Net contact, email us at email@example.com, or feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.