Are you an Excel spreadsheet wizard? Do you swim in SUMs, SQRTs, and MODs? Using functions to do calculations is one of the most powerful things spreadsheet software can do. Some businesses can run their whole operations this way by automating simple calculations through standard worksheets. What if you could use the same idea to improve your web design?

Formstack is an Indiana-based firm offering a premium online form experience. Online forms make collecting data easy, whether it’s signing customers up for your newsletter or capturing complex budget data. While I’d wager most Formstack forms are used for signups and some basic information collection, there’s a powerful calculator function hidden in a type of form field simply called Number. These fields can simply collect numbers for you, but they also perform functions on previously entered Number data and return usable results.

This special field helped us propose a new purchasing experience for a B2B client’s website. They challenged us to make a way for the public to interactively determine the part specifications they’d need to properly request a quote online. Ordinarily, customers would have to work through some heavy equations and consult a few charts on their own to get correct results. We recommended using web design to take away some of this burden and make the whole purchasing process easier. The client prepared his calculations in an Excel document and shared that with us to base the form on. With Number fields converted to special Calculating Total fields, it takes just a few clicks to build a powerful function that gives instant satisfaction.

Read this Formstack blog post about Number fields and watch the embedded video for a quick how-to.

With careful planning and adherence to the order of operations, you can offer customers a dynamic information portal that sweeps the input data through the formulas built into your Number/Calculating Total fields. Customers can use the resulting totals to make informed decisions and do other things smarter.

Typical uses for calculating total fields in Formstack:

  • Build smart order forms. (i.e.- Quantity x Price x Sales Tax) Use a form like this with any of Formstack’s integrated payment options to sell something online without needing ecommerce website software.
  • Register attendees for your events. Just like order forms for products, you can quickly set up an event registration form that calculates ticket price based on quantity and any other parameter you think of. Check out this event registration how-to document.
  • Do math. Is your business highly technical? Wish your customers knew their numbers before calling you? Plan your calculations in Excel and use simple functions in your Calculating Total Fields to build them in a Formstack form. Be aware that Formstack only supports two decimal places right now. To avoid rounding errors, you may need to use short answer fields for the number input, which will result in no rounding at all in the calculating total fields.

Bonus: Formstack also integrates with Google Spreadsheets. So you can put together a form that automatically adds the new data to your spreadsheets where you can work with it further. This is good for tracking time and expenses. Connect the public form and your private spreadsheet, then share the form with your users. You get better data and users get improved accessibility, but you’re the only one with access to the database of collected information.

Have questions about web design, Formstack or other online marketing tools? Let us know in the comments or give us a call, we’d love to talk. You can also check out our list of upcoming seminars covering even more marketing tips.