The ability to collect sales leads from a Web site is a powerful business tool and a straightforward task using Microsoft FrontPage® 2000 and 2002. If you don't have to worry about the security issues of collecting sensitive data like credit card and bank account numbers, the form features provided by FrontPage make data and lead collection simple.
Data is collected in FrontPage through an online form. When the site visitor completes the form and clicks the Submit button, FrontPage collects the data and performs a number of actions with it, including sending you the results. No programming is required.
Using form fields
An online form is made up of a number of fields for collecting different types of data. Form fields can be inserted into any Web page using FrontPage. When a form field is first inserted, FrontPage automatically generates a dashed box around the form elements. This dashed box represents the form area. All additional form fields should be inserted within it.
In Page view, a form is represented by a dotted line:A number of different form field options are available:
One-line text box
Use text boxes to collect a small amount of text, such as a name, e-mail address, or a phone number.
Enter your e-mail address:
Scrolling text box
Use a scrolling text box to collect one or more lines of text, such as a comment. This field scrolls to accommodate varying amounts of text.
Sign my guest book:
Use check boxes for optional items.
Yes, I would like to receive updates.
Radio button (called an Option button in FrontPage 2002)
Use radio buttons when you want the site visitor to select only one option from a group.
A B C
Use a drop-down menu to present the site visitor with a list of choices.
Select a product:
Use push buttons to let site visitors submit the form after filling it out, clear fields by resetting the form, or run your custom scripts.
Form field properties
You can set the properties for each form field. Field properties include the size of the form field in addition to default data (if any) that will be included in the form.
Default data is often used to prompt the user to enter a specific type or format of information. For example, a one-line text box form field looking for an e-mail address might display firstname.lastname@example.org in the text box.
Naming the fields
In order to make the results of your data collection easier to understand, it is a good idea to name each of the fields in your form. This way, when you receive the results of your form, the data is easier to sort out.
Sending the results
Once you have collected your data, the next step is to figure out what to do with it. FrontPage offers you a number of choices that include sending the content to a file, an e-mail address, or a database. You can also choose to use your custom scripts to handle the form results.
The confirmation page
FrontPage automatically creates a standard confirmation page for form data. You can also create a custom confirmation form.
It is advisable to display a confirmation page once your site visitors have entered all their information. It provides assurance that their data has been received.
Sending your data to a file, e-mail address, or a database requires a Web server with Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions installed. Publishing your content to a specific database requires support for that database on the server side.
If your Web host does not provide FrontPage Server Extensions, you might want to find a host that does.
It is important to note that the process of collecting data through FrontPage forms has no security inherently built into it. Form data sent by e-mail or stored on your server can easily be "hacked" into during transmission and is not recommended for collecting credit card information or any other type of sensitive information.
When collecting leads online, please keep in mind the following tips:
- Only ask for essential information. Site visitors shy away from long forms.
- Back up the data that you collect. Pure data can be lost to hardware failures and disk crashes.
- Remember to check your leads on a regular basis so you can respond rapidly.
- For more information about creating and using forms, see Help in FrontPage.