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How to build a mobile form

Building your first mobile form may seem like a hard task to swallow. Even building an app, for a lot of people, seems next to impossible with the amount of time and money that must be invested to produce a worthwhile product. At the end of the day, you may not even end up with something that you can use. The app building world is a gamble, and even a simple mobile form is intimidating enough to send a business into a growth-paralysis.

The good news is that if you already have a paper form, the jump to converting that paper into a mobile form is more of a skip. With online mobile form editors like Snappii, all you have to do is drag and drop the fields that appear on your form, and within minutes you can have your own fully functional prototype. If you decide to take on the challenge with Snappii in your back pocket, we’ll give you a 14-day FREE trial to test us out (we promise you won’t be disappointed).

While saying it’s easy is one thing, visualizing the process is another. I, for example, am a visual learner. As much as I can get from books, actually seeing things in action is much more insightful then just talking about it.

So today, I’m going to run through the steps of putting your first mobile form together.

 

Create an account, then create a form

First things first – you have to make an account with Snappii. If you’re concerned about the cost, don’t be. Snappii knows that building a mobile app for your business is going to change a lot of the moving parts around. It’s common that people will have to improve their workflow in order to integrate the app.  But, just like watering the seed to a tree, eventually you’ll be able to reap the benefits of a mobile form without having to think about it to much, and it can save you HOURS everyday (and some paper to boot).

Click Create an App at the top of the screen to get started.

 

Form, Express or Guru


After clicking on “create an app”, the following screen will ask how you to build your app. I’ll go over the differences in a little more detail:

  • Express Form Builder – Used for users who only want to build a form and are not interested in building an app (yet!). This editor looks slightly different in that it doesn’t give you the opportunity to add widgets (which we’ll discuss later). Perfect for someone that is trying to make an app based off a paper form, which is exactly what we’re doing today.
  • Express App Builder – Express mode is our easy app builder. Express allows you to simply drag and drop elements you would like to see in your app, and Snappii will take care of the back end stuff. Express mode gives you access to templates, which are pre-made apps made for each industry. There’s a good chance that you’ll find exactly what you need in the templates, and then you can continue building from there.
  • Guru App Builder – Guru is for the experts. Guru has everything that the previous two avenues had, but gives you the freedom to customize literally ANYTHING within the app. If you have a line of JS or HTML that you want to add, Guru will help you do it. From placement to users, Guru has it all, but we don’t recommend it to someone building their app for the first time.

For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to stick to Express form mode. We can always go back and expand our simple form into a full-fledged app, but we’re taking baby steps for today. Feel free to experiment though!

Straight to the form editor

The neat thing about Express Form editor is that the platform assumes that you only want to make a form. This allows you to skip the extras of picking a template, a color and widgets so you can get straight to work digitizing your paper form. After-all, you want to see if it works for your business before you jump in, right? No use in going headfirst without scoping the land.

On the left you’ll see something that should be familiar if you’ve ever used a form before. Fields are the ingredients to your form. By utilizing the ones we have here you can recreate any paper form into a digital one.

Basic fields are just that – basic fields. They’ll hold information for you that either reveals information to the user, or in some cases allow the user to input information via a dropdown or a checkbox. Here’s a breakdown of each function:

Text/Numbers – This field adds a single line that the user can enter information into. You can label the field as you see fit, which means this field can be used for a variety of functions. If you need more than one line, check out the Paragraph field below.

Dropdown – You’ve seen these before in countless websites. Dropdowns allow you to categorize things a bit easier. They also make it easy to make a selection if there are only a few options that are possible for that field. The end-user cannot add to the dropdown menu, so it’s important to make sure you include all options if you use this.

Paragraph – Much like Text/Numbers, paragraph provides a static line of text that the end user cannot mess with. Again, it’s useful for providing instructions. The main difference is that “Paragraph” allows more than one line of text, whereas “Text/Numbers” only gives you one.

Checkbox – Another one you’ve definitely seen before. Checkboxes are useful if the user has more than one option they made need to select. You’ve most likely seen something like this on the side-navigation of websites you like to shop on (see Amazon for a great example of this). The more viable options you have for a particular field, the more likely you’ll need “Checkbox” instead of “Dropdown”

Radio – Very similar to checkbox in that the user just has to click once to pick an answer, but different then checkbox in that the user can only select one thing. This is very similar to drop-down, but is usually used when users only have a few options, and a dropdown menu would be cumbersome. Again, play around with it and see what works for you and your employees.

Multiline Entry – This field is a bit harder to explain. Basically, it allows you to put a form inside your form. There are very niche cases that use this, and its functionality spreads wide across multiple industries. For more information on Multiline Entry, check out this link.

 

 

Pre-built fields are where all the magic happens. These fields allow the users to input their own answers for the questions provided. Most of them are self-explanatory, but we’re going to go over them just to clear up any questions.

Image/Logo – Places a static image on your form. Since the user can print out forms, logo’s are often extremely important to companies. This field makes it easy to upload your company logo and place it throughout the form as you see fit.

Name – Creates a field where the end-user can input a name. If you’re a contractor and you’re making an invoice for a client, or if you work in the medical field and you’re trying to receive a clients information, this is a great place to start.

Gender – Creates a field that asks for gender. Male and female are preset, but if you can think of other ones you can always add them.

Address – Creates a field that allows the user to input their address. This field is standardized for American addresses, but you can always change it to what works for you.

Email – Create a field that allow the user to input their email address. In the field settings, you can also setup if you would like to send a copy of the mobile form to this email.

Phone – Creates a field that allows the user to input a phone number. Again, preset to American style, but it can be changed.

Website – Creates a field that allows the user to input their website.

Price – Creates a field that allows the user to input a price. This one can be used a variety of ways. For examples, contractors can add this field for estimations.

SSN – Creates a field that allows the user to input their social security number.

Date/Time – Creates a field that automatically captures the date/time of the interaction with the mobile form. This is great for making sure your employees were where they needed to be at a certain time.

Sign/Draw – The signature field is one of our most widely used tools. It’s exactly as it sounds – the user taps the field on their device and a signature panel that can be signed with a finger opens up.

Map/GPS – This is another tool to find out if your employees are where they need to be. The Map/GPS field can be hidden while it captures the users location, which means employees won’t really be able to tell if you’re tracking them or not. Worried about whether or not John went to the worksite today? Not anymore you’re not.

Take Photo – Creates a field where the end-user can input a photo. If you’re in inspection, this tool is invaluable as it provides a means for showing what the problem is rather than just writing it down.

Scan Barcode – Adds a barcode scanner to your mobile form. This is usually used in very specific industries, but the people who need it will know exactly how to use it.

QR Code – Similar to the barcode, but a bit more dated. We know some companies still like to use QR codes – no problem with that!

Audio – Creates a field where the end-user can input audio. Some examples could be to record voice when their hands may be tied up, or to record a particular sound a piece of equipment is making.

Video – Creates a field where the end-user can input a video. Same deal as audio, but allows you take a video instead. Keep in mind that videos are going to dramatically increase the file size, so try to keep them short!

File Upload – And finally, there’s file upload. This is useful for when you want to attach a PDF or document to your mobile form. To the receiver, it appears as an attachment to the completed form.

Then there’s the few extra’s we have. We’re still expanding this section, but it contains one of the most useful organization tools our editor can use.

Text Label – Provides a static line of text that the end-user cannot adjust. This is a useful tool if you want to describe instructions for a particular part of the form, or if you want to remind someone to include something. It’s a flexible field that can help first-time users, especially ones that may not be as familiar with smartphones.

Section Break – Places a divider between fields. If you’re trying to section off different parts of your form, this is the best way to do it. You can also add new tabs, essentially creating a separate page for your forms. Mess around with both and see which works better for you.

And that’s basically it! All you have to do is copy the order that your fields appear in your paper form. You can divide up different sections of the form by clicking the New Page button towards the top.

 

Tomorrow, I’m going to go over how to publish and share your mobile form with your colleagues. This will help you develop some opinions on what could be improved about your form now that it’s digitized. The great part about that is that the form editor allows you to rearrange any piece by simply dragging and dropping it. This is a great way to optimize a form that may have been dated, and it’ll further expand your knowledge on what the platform can do.

If you want to go ahead and try it out yourself, click here to start a free trial with Snappii. If you follow the steps listed in this guide, anyone should be able to improve their workflow, and reduce the amount of paper their company uses.

Snappii will also make the first page of your form for free to show you how it’s done! Contact sales@snappii.com for more information on that.

4 Benefits Your Construction Company will see from Mobile forms

There’s a lot of moving pieces that go into construction projects. From owners and investors, to product vendors and contractors, a lot of people have to kept in the loop at the same time in order for things to flow smoothly.

It’s funny to me that a lot of these businesses rely so heavily on communication, yet there main means of achieving this is the same medium the industry has been using for years. Construction firms are slowed down by seemingly endless paper forms that are created from various teams, all of which has to go end up in the same place. The lack of consistency, and the weak communication, are ultimately creating more chaos than profits.

The shortage of skilled labor in the industry isn’t going to get any better, but projects will continue growing in size. Either the industry finds a way to muscle through and continue to use old ideologies and technologies (because that’s what pen and paper was called at one point), it needs to get smarter about how it accomplishes these tasks.

Mobile forms are the solution.

Mobile forms, like the ones created on Snappii’s platform, give you a myriad of abilities right in the palm of your hand, on a product that you (and your team) probably already own. With the little start-up cost associated with converting all of your paperwork into its digital counterparts, it’s hard to find a reason to not switch over and automatize your entire form-filling process. If that’s not convincing enough, here’s 4 more reasons why mobile forms can make your business more efficient, and more profits.

Workflow Optimization – Being able to keep timesheets on all of your moving pieces will make sure that everyone is pulling their own weight on a big project. Timesheets can be customized to automatically give the supervisor updates, along with comments from the team about how the job is coming along.

Document Approval – With paper documents, sending forms back and forth for your boss can be extremely time consuming, especially with a paper forms limited capacity to detail why exactly something got rejected. Mobile forms give you the flexibility to insert photos, audio recordings, videos – anything to help get the message across.

Cloud Storage – I’ve gone on quite a few rants about how I think paper is completely unnecessary in the modern business world. From law firms to hospitals, the most used function with paper is just to record information so that it may be inputted somewhere else. Cloud storage not only allows you to store as many documents as you want (without giant filing cabinets), but it also indexes your documents so that if you ever need to pull them up, they’re only a few presses away. Combine that with the fact that forms are automatically stored in the cloud and you have a completely impervious solution.

Everyone’s on the same (metaphorical) page – Did the boss get the message? Are you sure they know what they’re supposed to be doing? With Snappii, the moment documents are updated, the parties it concerns will be instantly notified. Effortlessly keep everyone updated.

Snappii puts the power in the user’s hands by enabling them to create their own mobile form using the powerful, zero-coding platform. Take the load off of your construction team and put it on your smartphones. The long task of putting together a mobile form can be reduced to minutes, with the cost brought down to a fraction of the original price. As a user, you also have access to our app templates, which are pre-made apps that you can customize to fit your needs. Or you can start it from scratch! Try it out today RISK FREE.

Build Apps in Steps. Start with Forms!

 

I was in for a rude awakening when I started to learn how to code. Somehow, I thought that it would be as easy as learning a few terms, plugging them into the right spots and presto, I’d have a working website. My fervor to get started, and be really good at it, ended up being my demise when nothing seemed to work. I was focused on the big picture. I had misconstrued the world of programming to be one of flat-out knowledge rather than wisdom gained trial-and-error.

Where did I go wrong? It wasn’t so much the fault of my mentality as it was the fault of my process. After hours and hours of messing up and going back to fix things, it dawned on me that fulfilling objectives would only give me that “big picture” understanding of things. Rather, learning is about layers. You build a foundation for your knowledge to grow on first, then little by little you add the layers that build your fortress of knowledge.

Building in layers isn’t a new concept. Had I looked at my own work first, I would have seen that our own platform was contingent on the same thing – start small and work your way into something better. The tools that we use to accomplish this can vary, and some tools will undoubtedly be better than others. Snappii, for example, is a tool used to develop mobile apps without the use of any programming or coding. By building upon your app in layers, you can focus on one thing at a time without ever losing sight of the big picture. As your app gets better, your knowledge of the platform will increase. Try out Snappii’s platform today if you want to give yourself a chance to create your own mobile app.

That may sound a bit daunting. The word “creating” and “mobile app” usually don’t go in the same sentence unless there’s a lot of time and money to be invested. Snappii breaks this perception with the use of their rapid mobile app development platform. If you break it down, it takes about 7 steps to create your own mobile app, regardless of the purpose:

  1. Find a form you want to convert
  2. Upload it into form editor by loading or recreating it
  3. Once the form is finished and your back on the platform, explore the app features
  4. Drag and drop the features you would like to see on your mobile app.
  5. Brand the app so that it resembles your business (optional)
    1. Logos
    2. Colors
  6. Test the app and make changes as you see fit
  7. Deploy the app into the market using our built-in app submitter

 

Find it and Make it

The first step is easy. I’m sure you won’t have to look far for a form that you would like to convert into your own mobile app. I’m willing to bet it’s the reason you even stumbled upon this blog in the first place.

So you have your form out in front of you, and you want to recreate, or scan, it onto the computer so that you can keep it on your phone rather than a cabinet. There’s a couple ways to do this with our platform, but only one of them gives you the flexibility to edit the entire form as you see fit.

Form editor express will give you a clean state to start your form.

On the left hand side, you’ll see the available fields for a mobile form. All you have to do is drag-and-drop the fields as they appear on the paper form in front of you. Remember that since this is digital, nothing is set in stone. If you want to try out new ways to complete the same form, go right ahead – Snappii doesn’t charge for changes you make the mobile form. This gives you unlimited opportunities to test things and see what works – like trial and error – without having to incur extra costs like you would with paper. With enough patience and review, you can optimize any process.

The other option, which is popular with people that work solely off PDF’s, is to scan your PDF document right into our form editor. Load PDF can be found at the top of the form editor. This won’t give you as much flexibility as a mobile form, but it may still give you enough of what you need to get the job done. Use whatever works better for you!

Add your features

Once you finish the mobile form, you’re already taken the first big step into creating your mobile app.

The next part is more fun than anything else. Click on the add widget button the bottom. Looks like this:

The screen will populate with a bunch of different options.

 

You can explore thes

e by highlighting them to get a basic idea of what their functions are, and how they may be able to help you with your business. There’s a lot of available features here, so take your time. There’s always that small “Help” flag on the bottom right of your screen in case you have a question about how a particular feature functions.

Once that parts done, your mobile app is almost good-to-go. A lot of our clients like to take a bit of time to brand the app for their business by picking colors that represent their logo. The color picker can be found under settings.

Logo’s probably aren’t going to be plastered everywhere through your mobile app. Instead, check out the features that offer the ability to put a logo. These are usually informational features, like an about tab or the login screen. Having it somewhere will help with brand recognition, so we highly recommend it if the mobile app is going to be seen by the public eye.

Test and Go!

Once that’s all done, it’s time to put your work to the test. On the bottom of the screen, you’ll see this button:

This will save your app to our servers, and allow you access our app using the preview app found in both the Play Store and the iTunes market. We recommend not publishing it first. It’s usually better to see if the app you created is what you wanted. Download the Snappii Preview App and use the same credentials you used to login to our website. Your list of mobile forms and apps will populate the screen, and the one you were just working on will be closest to the top.

Once you’ve adequately tested your creation, you’re free to put it on the app store. Although we provide a means of deploying the app, there’s a few intricacies that you may need to work around, like a developers license before we can get you up and running. For more information about that, click here.

If you’re using your app privately, though, there’s no need for a developers license. In fact, we encourage you to use it privately if it’s an option as making updates to a private app is much easier than re-publishing an app every time you want to change an apostrophe. Either way, the app submitter is a means to both ends, and will prove invaluable as you start to publish more apps through our platform.

 

Things are best learned in bite-size pieces. Building layer upon layer until you end up with the exact product you wanted is a tried and true method to success. You know better than anyone how you want your app to look, so take advantage of it. Try out Snappii’s ultra-fast, intuitive app building platform today with a FREE 14-day trial and surprise yourself, and your boss, tomorrow.

If building an app from scratch isn’t up your alley, we also offer custom app services for way less than you might think. Click here to send your inquiry to our sales guys.

RMAD Tools On the Rise

When mobile apps first starting appearing on our cellphones, there were typically small, fun uses. Changing the ring-tone on your phone or having an arcade game right in your pocket were the quintessential ceiling of mobile app development. In those days, developing and teaching how to use computer software was much easier for companies. With only a small percentage of people having access to phones capable of running mobile apps, most businesses weren’t even thinking about how those applications could be used to improve their workflow. It was more of a novelty than a necessity.

Somewhere around the time the first iPhone came out though, mobile apps were beginning to pick up steam. As phones became smarter, programs for those phones became more intuitive. Bigger companies started to utilize mobile apps for their ease of use and availability – especially to those people in the technology industry that were hasty to purchase the latest and greatest from Apple.

The phrase “Rapid Mobile App Development”, or RMAD, has been getting a lot of traction lately in the tech industry. To put it simple, rapid mobile app development refers to the process used to create a mobile app when using an online platform, like Snappii. Using Snappii’s intuitive editor, for example, you can drag and drop select features found in most mobile apps, and have a fully functional app ready in a fraction of the time it takes to code it from scratch. This gives way to many possibilities, including adapting a mobile app that works specifically to create shortcuts in your workflow. Snappii offers a custom app service, but if you want to try your hand at creating your own mobile app there’s a 14-day-trial available for FREE by clicking here.

 

The RMAD Requirements

RMAD platforms are contingent on two requirements (in my eyes) if they want to be accepted in the technology industry. The first is being able to provide a solution faster than if you were to code it developers.

The average development time for app-makers is around 6 months, and the cost is usually somewhere in the 6-digits. Within those 6 months, there may be challenges and hurdles you’ll have to overcome in order to create the perfect app relevant to your business. While one can oversee the process, there’s no guarantee that the app that developers make will line up with the original desires. Not to mention, in 6 months’ time there’s a good chance that the industry may shift in a new direction, creating even more requirements for the already costly mobile app.

The other requirement is that the RMAD takes you from zero to completed application before leaving the platform. The bulk of RMAD systems will take you all the way to the finished app. For many businesses that are going to use the mobile app internally, this may just be enough. However, if the intention is to make an app for the public sector, then publishing the app on the app stores is also a requirement. Few RMAD platforms do this, and Snappii is one of them.

The beauty of most RMAD solutions is that they’re based largely on existing products. This means if you’ve gone to the app store and have seen features in different apps that you would like to combine, it’s very likely that a RMAD platform has the tools necessary to make that happen. From start to finish, RMAD platforms can take your app from choosing features, to editing the colors to match your business in a matter of minutes, rather than the months it would take to create a similar app from scratch. There’s also a lot less money involved since RMAD tools do not require the help of an actual programmer or technician.

 

Why go RMAD?

With the advent of RMAD tools, building a mobile app has become more of a pleasure than a chore. With Snappii’s platform, it’s now easier than ever to create a mobile app for your business, and add it to the arsenal of technology that will help you get the job done right.

One thing that most RMAD services do not offer are templates. Snappii’s Templates are pre-made mobile apps that contain the key features needed for their respective industries. Templates can be fully modified to fit your business, down to the colors and fonts of the text. They are readily available to be tested in both of the major app stores, but if you want to see a list, click here to check out Snappii’s Templates.

 

For the more ambitious DIY app makers out there who want to try building the mobile app from the ground up, Snappii invites you try their industry-leading app editor absolutely FREE for 14 days. Try it today, and see why Snappii is quickly climbing to the top of the RMAD charts!