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Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Introduction to Web Technologies: part 4

One of the most basic interactive technologies on websites are forms. As in, forms that a user can fill in and submit. These can be as simple as submitting an email enquiry - forms are preferable to an email link, because they will protect your email address from robots who farm them for nefarious use. Or they can be as complex as a full fledged market research survey. Popular uses, in a business context, are enquiry forms that prompt your prospective customer to enter some of the information you need to know about their project, or forms that return an instant quote, based on the information the customer enters.

There are various ways to set up forms, but again, PHP is now widely used for them. The code allows various functionality, such as sending an email to your address, entering customer information directly into your database, spam filters, controls that make sure all required fields are filled in, and sticky fields that remember what the customer has previously entered, even if there was an error submitting the form.

Form fields can be simple text fields that your visitors can type into, they can be radio buttons that allow them to choose one of several options, drop down menus, or multiple choise buttons that allow more than one choice.

When designing a form, it pays to take care not to overwhelm your visitors with forms that are too long, or questions that are too complex. A well designed form can save you a lot of work extracting information from your client in order to come up with an accurate quote, or gathering feedback, or even automating things like subscriptions to your mailing lists and newsletters.

They can also save your prospective customers time, by being able to check availabilities and prices online - and even streamline them directly into your online shop, as you can see on most airline or hotel booking sites.

Asni: Multimedia Art & Design :: ::

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