Business Pattern with Web Forms

Abstract

Deitel and Deitel (2008) explained that web forms are used on the web site to collect data and do other activities i.e. searching by keywords such as e-mail address or zip code. Once the data was entered through the form, the data will be sent to the web server that will provide access to the site’s resources. Forms can contain visual components where clickable buttons and other graphical user interface components allow users to interact with the site. Forms can also provide non-visual components called hidden inputs where data can be stored and sent to the server. Data collected within a form can be sent to a server via methods that are specified within the form structure (Method attribute). This method specifies how the form’s data will be sent to the web server. For example:

 

  • By using “Post” method, the data will be appended within the HTTP protocol, and send to the server.
  • By using “Get” method, the data will be appended directly to the end of the URL of the script, where it is visible in the browser’s address field.

When the submit button is pressed by user, the data will be sent to the server, and the user is sent to the location specified in the form’s action attribute.

Change the business pattern with web forms

Walther and Levine (2000) explained that web forms play an important part in the web world in gathering information about the visitors of any web site. Some of the tasks that the web form can add to any web sites and e-business are:

 

  • Gathering login information about site’s visitors such as username and password and so forth.
  • Asking questions in a form of surveys and polls.
  • Sending emails via mail form.
  • Entering information to search engine.
  • Posting comments to the web site for feedback or requests.
  • Writing content for blogs and web sites threads.

To enable a customer registration, complete a marketing form, or enter credit card information web sites are using the form techniques to collect such data. Once the data is sent to the business’s server, it is part of the business process and responsibilities to protect such data from hackers and intruders. With the advanced computing power, and with the huge reduction in cost of information technology that have facilitated the collection, and the storage of data, privacy legislation has been established to ensure that such data collection is secure, and follows the privacy laws. Such laws changed the way organizations, and businesses do business (Walther and Levine, 2000).

Ashford (2009) also explained organization should collect the minimum amount of data when it comes to online data collection. This technique can reduce the risk of conflicting with the data protection act that might be a big risk to any business practices. The best technique to apply the data protection practice within any organization is to collect only the data that is necessary for the business to execute the work flow. Also, business should not be using such data collected from any individual for any other purpose that would not be expected from such individual. 

Songini (2002) stated that with the huge amount of data that are collected via e-business practices made the data management and businesses are more important than ever. Once the data is collected and stored in the database, the database management will be responsible to secure such data, and also allows access to data analysis systems as business intelligence layers that needed by business to understand customer’s behaviours and requirements.

Otlacan (2005) explained that market research and surveys are used for quantitative and qualitative researches in order to understand customer’s behaviours and the social and the culture means for the business to operate. Many of such organizations practice the data protection rules by allowing visitors to be anonymous, and if there are data collected, it has to be only when it’s provided by the individuals for their own records. 

Many e-business and e-commerce are using the web analytical software to understand the behaviours of the online visitors to their web sites. By utilizing the data that the web analytics can provide, businesses can improve its processes, and the work flow to satisfy the needs for their clients. There two techniques that are used within such software:

 

  • Log file technique – Used to record visitor behaviour on the web site, and routinely store that file on a web host’s server. Such collection of data can be used to improve business’s lifecycle, and storage and bandwidth issues.

 

  • JavaScript method technique – The JavaScript code can be used to send the visitor activity to the computer that hosting the web analytical services to analyze that data; and create the required reports that can help business to improve its processes.

Baker (2001) explained that the visitors to any web site don’t like the idea of filling forms; because it takes the control away from them. He described in his article that online forms are most of the time are distracting and complicated when it comes to the ordinary site visitors. For the above reason, many new technologies were developed to speed up the process of collecting common information such as addresses, phone numbers and etc. Yet users still forced to fill all kind of forms, since it’s the only effective means of gathering information. Some of the common user’s perception to the web form problems is:

 

  • Forms are long and required to much work from the end-user.
  • The precise purpose of such forms is not clear to the visitor of the site.
  • Most of forms force users to answer questions.
  • Control is taken away from users when it comes to filling online forms.
  • Users sometimes don’t provide accurate information for businesses to achieve its goal for studying visitor behaviours.

Baker (2001) also added that forms are useful for business for certain processes such as: collecting statistical data that can help improve the service quality of any business, signing up for the site authentication, authorization, and login purposes, and searching mechanisms. Some of the guidelines can help building effective forms are:

 

  • Use common controls that are familiars to the visitors such as radio buttons and check boxes to speed up the process of the data collection.
  • Collect the information that is based on the visitor’s point of view.
  • Create a form that produces a minimum required data, to avoid user frustration with the web site.
  • Create a form that contains less restrictive controls.
  • Create as much optional answers as possible for users to have choices, and can cover many point of views.
  • Avoid the repetitive questions within the form.
  • Eliminate any questions on the form that are not practical to the business usage for the data collection.

Conclusion

Web forms are great technique that can be used on e-business and other web sites to collect information about visitors, to import business process, give access to users, and provide other means for users to use site activities. Such data collected via web forms, should be secure within the database systems, and different layers of security to ensure that privacy of such data is maintained within the business boundaries. The best method to avoid violating the privacy act is to collect what’s needed to complete the business process. In building web forms, businesses have to maintain the flexibility, and provide different options to allow users to express their point of view. Finally, web forms as a user interface can help business understand customers’ needs, and improve the activities that related to customer behaviours.

References

Ashford, W. (2009) Keep data collection to a minimum [Online]. Available from: http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2009/06/17/236472/keep-data-collection-to-a-minimum-warns-ico.htm (Accessed: 13 February 2010).

Baker, A. (2001) Effective use of form on websites [Online]. Available from: http://www.merges.net/theory/20010301.html (Accessed: 13 February 2010).

Deitel, P. & Deitel H. (2008) Internet & World Wide Web: How to Program. 4th ed.New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Murdock, K. (2006) Web Analytics: Data Collection Methods [Online]. Available from: http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/196-Web-Analytics-Data-Collection-Methods (Accessed: 13 February 2010).

Otlacan, O. (2005) Qualitative Data Collection Techniques In International Marketing Research [Online]. Available from: http://www.coursesuseek.com/research/qualitative_data_collection.html (Accessed: 13 February 2010).

Songini, M. (2002) Collection of data [Online]. Available from: http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/23771/collections_data/ (Accessed: 13 February 2010).

Walther, S. & Levine, J. (2000) E-Commerce Programming with ASP. 2nd ed.Indianapolis: Sams.

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