Use Formstack to Generate Content (Without Really Trying)

Written by Abby Nieten on January 7, 2013

Posted in Form Hacks

You might read this title and think, “Oh, I’m in a career that doesn’t require any writing.” This may seem true in your everyday life, but at some point in your career, you’re probably going to encounter a situation where you need to contribute some written material. If you’re a web designer or a small business owner, you might be asked to write a post for an industry blog or journal – and you’re going to have a word count minimum.

Not only do quotes from other professionals help boost the credibility of your writing, but they’re an easy way to lengthen your work. Since your sources might not live nearby and you might not have time for a face-to-face interview, you can gather your quotes using a Formstack form. With Formstack, you can quickly create a professional-looking survey with your interview questions that can be shared via email.  In addition, all of the responses will be streamlined in your Formstack account – which is great if you’re interviewing multiple sources.

When using Formstack to create your interview form, use these tips make sure it is visually appealing and easy for your sources to take:

Include a section header explaining your piece. If you’ve asked a professional to be quoted in your piece, chances are he or she is renowned to some degree in your industry. This could also equate to being ultra-busy. Don’t let your source forget what the responses are actually being used for – this could bite you in the butt later when your article is published.

Start your form with a section field with more detailed information about your piece, as well as contact information for questions.


Use the Long Answer field. This one’s a no-brainer. Make sure your sources have enough room to answer your questions. People like to talk, and certain people really love to write. The character maximum in the Short Answer field might not be high enough. However, you can always add a character maximum to the Long Answer field, in case you want to avoid your sources writing an article of their own in your form submissions.

Make essential questions required fields. Is there a certain question that you think might prompt some high-quality quote material? Make it a required field so your source can’t submit the form without answering it. This is also good to do with essential information like the Name and Email fields – you’ve gotta know who to quote and how to follow up with them if you have any questions about their responses.

Use conditional logic to make sure they only answer relevant questions. You might want to ask follow-up questions based on certain responses in your interview form. However, nothing looks messier than a long form with several irrelevant questions. Hide follow up questions using conditional logic to ensure your source doesn’t get frustrated.

Create a customized URL about your topic. Going along with the “busy source” idea, using a recognizable custom URL will jog the memory
of your source (assuming you’ve already corresponded with them about the piece). If you were in the middle of cleaning out your inbox, you’d probably be more likely to save a link with information about the interview, rather than one with a lot of letters and numbers.

These are just a few tips to ensure ease of use for your interview form. Have you used Formstack to survey customers for a case study or interview a subject? I’d love to hear any tips you might have, or to provide some more in the comments below!

Featured Photo credit: OlivanderFoterCC BY-NC-SA