Of all the major forms of digital communication, email is, perhaps, the most flexible. Yet, for the website owner, it still can’t be relied on, in its purest form, as the sole method of communication. Visitors still like the reassuring guidance of specified text fields, and in some cases, pre-defined options can make for a better user experience, not to mention more streamlined correspondence.
It is for this reason that form builders are as popular now as they’ve ever been. Veteran Wufoo has held the top spot for many years, thanks to its drag-and-drop design suite and elegant output. Other platforms — Gravity Forms (WordPress only), for example — carve out their own market share by providing special features, such as payments and multiple-input guards.
However, one new form-building service, named Formbakery, wants to keep things simple. It, too, offers drag-and-drop design, as well as a form-by-form price. But can it match up to the long-established giants of form creation?
Some platforms try to make complicated functions look simple. Formbakery doesn’t have to try — it really is just very straightforward.
As a new user, you are first invited to build, rather than enter your details, and a sparse yet elegant form-building environment is the first thing you see.
Once you’ve named your new form, Formbakery pretty much lets you loose to freestyle as you please.
Form assembly is achieved by dragging and dropping into position any of the five available types of field. There are no pre-defined inputs for addresses, phone numbers and the like — just the standard types of HTML input. But that’s not to say that these forms are completely devoid of intelligence.
The first field type is a single-line text box. It is the only form element that comes with settings, and those settings allow you to restrict the input to alpha characters (letters and spaces), numeric characters (numbers and spaces), or an email address. As with every Formbakery element, you are asked to give it a name and decide whether this field should be required for the form to be submitted.
The other fields on offer are a multiple-line text box, a radio button list, a checkbox list — styled as squares which are in bold when selected, and faded when not — and a drop-down menu. For the lists, adding options is merely a case of providing a name and hitting enter.
The finished product is, of course, merely a very basic form, and it is a shame that new forms aren’t auto-saved, meaning that if you abandon your work halfway through, you’re going to have to start again. However, the speed at which ready-to-go forms can be constructed with Formbakery outstrips — by some distance — even the most efficient HTML artist.
The output is pretty swift, too. After testing a fully functioning prototype from within Formbakery’s design area (even a preview of the email you would receive is offered), you can download your form in a package that contains the HTML, CSS, JS and PHP required for embedding it anywhere. This costs a one-off payment of $9 per form, which seems pretty reasonable, and Formbakery even lets you preview an excerpt of your form’s code, for the sake of confidence. And I must say, it is pretty semantic.
Oh, and you can edit the form up to 24 hours after you download. Can’t say fairer than that.
There are plenty of contact-based tasks for which Formbakery is entirely out of its depth; location awareness, smart address checking, selling goods, etc.
For the majority of websites, though, a contact form is there to allow visitors to get in touch without leaving the site, and to make messages more to the point. For this purpose, Formbakery is perfectly suited, and it is priced very competitively.