Lead Forms: Using a Form Builder vs Creating Your Own From Scratch

Creating a lead form to integrate on your site can be challenging without the right tools and knowledge. There are many pros and cons to using a form building or hand-coding from scratch. Let’s weigh our options to find what work’s best for you.

Form Builder – Benefits

The way form builders work is relatively straightforward. When it comes to the basics, you create fields for the pieces of information you’re looking to collect. Respondents can provide that information via freeform text boxes, dropdowns and radio buttons. You also have the ability to restrict the types of responses you receive in order to have greater control over the data you collect.

Although building forms and collecting responses is a straightforward process, form apps come in all shapes and sizes. There are simple form integrations, standalone form apps, form builders that are built into spreadsheet apps, and advanced data processing tools that happen to be built around forms.

Many online form builders require no-code, making it easier for those with low levels of experience. Mobile-friendly forms are also almost always part of the deal, ensuring that viewers have a positive experience regardless of the device they are using. Popular form builders are Wufoo, Formstack and Jotform

The beauty of using form builders is that they are often free or low cost, and help eliminate the tedious work of stylizing and formatting your form. Instead of writing lines and lines of code, you have the ability to drag ‘n drop the elements where you want them. You can still add in your own HTML touch, of course, but you can save yourself some serious time. 

Another option is using a tool such as Formbakery. Here you can ease the tedious work of creating a form from bare bones, while still having the ability to host your forms on your own server. They offer a minimal, drag-and-drop interface, allowing you to choose from five different question types. Although it’s not the most robust tool, it is incredibly fast to create a form that is customizable in terms of look and feel. Once you’re done, you can access the source code in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP to add to your website. While a certain level of technical knowledge is required, it’s easier to use than starting from scratch.

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Form Builder – Drawbacks

Generally, many form builders have drag and drop functionality to engage with those who may not have coding experience. The drawback of this is that many form builders are solely focused on beginner usage. Therefore, they often lack the utility needed to integrate lead-tracking code and incorporate code needed from data lead posting.

When it comes to processing data, a majority of the form builders on the market only transfer responses into spreadsheets, email lists, task flows, or notifications. It can take a lot of third party applications to get it to the place of posting leads correctly if that is your end-goal.

When you use code from third parties, you have to spend a lot of time working out how to integrate it and then finessing it to do what you want. In some cases, you may not understand everything that third party software does, and it may do some completely undesirable (and unnecessary) things. 

The other obvious issue arises is if there is a flaw or bug in the third party code. You’d have to spend much more time diagnosing and fixing the bug than you would have to do if it was your own code. The same holds true if you want to add extra functionality or you want to change the way it works.

Creating Your Own – Benefits

If you’re familiar with coding, there’s a lot to be gained when creating a form from scratch. Depending on your experience, it may even be more efficient than starting out with a builder. Since you’re the boss, you can develop a form that specifically caters to your goals, and cut out any of the extra code that is irrelevant. The entire form can be customized to your exact needs.

The greatest advantage you gain by building from scratch is flexibility. Need to move a component in your directory structure to make it more secure? Need to use custom JavaScript code to translate or encrypt something? Want to do some database linking that doesn’t fit into a cookie-cutter design model? When you write your own code, there are no limits or restrictions on what you can do. 

Creating Your Own – Drawbacks

Let’s say you want to create a form for insurance. You’d like to have a dynamic form that follows logic you’ve specified, such as type of insurance, age, location, etc. So for example, if people click on one field, then you want other fields to be hidden. Or, you want the form to skip ahead a few questions if they aren’t relevant to the user’s initial responses. What about when the user doesn’t use the correct amount of characters in their response? You have to implement a validation script to combat this. Coding these elements from scratch means a lot of man hours building out the less glamorous parts of your form, when it could have been easily created using a rule builder.

One of the biggest challenges when creating your own forms is time itself. Not only time for building out the form, stylizing it, embedding it into your webpage, tracking the leads, but also testing! There’s a lot of ground to cover. Building from scratch requires a strong code knowledge base. Each form element needs to be clearly defined and thought-out.

There’s no wrong answer

Hopefully this article has given you some food for thought to help you decide on how to best create your forms. Though creating your own form has its benefits in customization, it may not be required based on your lead form needs. Form builders can help you build out the stylization and logic of your form, and gives you a framework for you to build on. Even if you have the skills to code it yourself, using a form building can save you precious time to focus on functionality.

That being said, if you decide to go with a third party application, you have to acknowledge that  by incorporating those items into your design, you are also accepting the risks and complications that come with them. There’s no one-size fits all when it comes to building out lead generation forms. Hopefully this guide has helped you to decide what will work best for your needs.

Read more: 10 Steps to Creating High Converting Lead Forms

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