How Southwestern Oklahoma State University Stays Lean with Online Forms

Written by Laura Thrasher on February 11, 2014

Posted in Case Studies, Education

Southwestern Oklahoma State University is a university in western Oklahoma, home to approximately 5,000 students. Their web Southwestern_Oklahoma_State_Universityservices programmer, Karen Wilson, is a jack-of-all-trades in a shorthanded department. “We work with minimal staffing; there are a few of us who do a whole lot,” she explained. Her lean-and-mean team maintains 3,000-4,000 pages of the university’s website. An essential component of the site is online forms, and for that, she turns to Formstack.

SWOSU’s website had enormous potential for conversions, but Wilson needed to leverage the right kinds of forms. Because higher ed forms have an average conversion rate of 8%, Wilson wanted to monitor the success of her forms against industry standards.

The Problem
Departments throughout the university wanted to collect data off of the website. “All we had in place was manual creation of every single form, and every single form field,” Wilson said. This process was as bad as it sounds: extremely time-consuming and even more frustrating when she had to deal with mistakes in code.

Data, once collected, was just emailed to a recipient. “If someone wanted to continue keeping the information, they had to manually key it to a separate spreadsheet to use it,” she explained. Eventually, Wilson got fed up with the inefficiency and began researching online form builders.

The Solution
After comparing several companies, Wilson decided on Formstack. “Formstack had the best features for the most reasonable price,” she explained. “I also love that it’s a hosted application, so we didn’t have to worry about installation, upgrades, or troubleshooting.” Now, when departments across the university contact Wilson to create forms, she is able to whip them up in no time. For those individuals who are more computer-savvy and want to build their own forms, Wilson assigns accounts using Formstack’s multi-user functionality. And since it is centralized, she can easily tweak or update forms that other people have created.

Not only are forms easy to create, but she can do something with the data they collect. Wilson loves that data is stored in a central location, and it can be easily retrieved and downloaded. No longer does information sit idle in someone’s email inbox, potentially ignored or lost in the shuffle.

The type of form has an impact on successful conversions, as well. For example, SWOSU uses Formstack for a lot of tour and event registrations, which have an average conversion rate of 11%. By choosing higher-converting forms, she can encourage more students to submit their data.

Wilson finds Formstack useful for everything from simple contact forms to online scholarship applications. Her forms are used by faculty, staff, prospective and current students, and alumni. A fraternity even uses one to sell t-shirts as a fundraiser. “Formstack is consistent, reliable, and has dramatically streamlined the process of creating forms,” she explained. “It frees us up to do other things.”

That’s an understatement: she estimates that Formstack saved her two to five working days a month when she began using it, and continues to save her several hours a month. “If you weigh the monthly fee against doing things manually, the price is very reasonable,” she remarked. Online forms, which were once a source of major headaches, are no longer a hassle for Wilson.

“When a form is needed, it’s needed immediately,” Wilson said. “Formstack is just so fast, it doesn’t take me any time at all.”

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