Managing Web Projects – Online Forms

Online forms are an integral part of a website. They are frequently used to allow users to log in to an application or to submit their information. As a project manager, you should expect to have at least one website project that will have an online form. So it is important for one to understand what kind of requirements you should collect for a developer to build a form.

By definition, an online form is an interactive interface where a user can submit one or more fields. Once a form is submitted, there are three potential outcomes (see image below):

Online Form

Outcome #1: The data that’s submitted is displayed back on the screen.

Outcome #2: The data that’s submitted is sent. The data can be sent as an email to a contact or a list of contacts or to a web service (I’ll define a web service at a later time).

Outcome #3: The data that’s submitted is saved in a data source.  Data sources range from the ultra-simple file (which is often referred to as a text file or a flat file) or a database (eg: MySQL, MS SQL, Oracle, etc.)

So based on the three outcomes above, the base requirement to collect/understand would be to determine what should happen once the form is submitted, or action is necessary on the online form. Additional questions around this would include:

If the data is displayed:

  • Where is it displayed and what kind of styling is required?

If the data is sent:

  • Is it sent as email or a web service?
    • If it is an email, who gets it and how should the information appear in the email (any special formatting)?
    • If it is a web service, where is the web service, does the web service expect anything in particular (is anything required) and will the web service return a success/error message once it receives the information?

If the data is stored:

  • Where is stored?
    • If it is a database, what kind of database is it (MySQL, MS SQL, etc.), what is the version number,what is the database name, what is the database table(s), and what is the column name(s)?

Hope that this helps make the requirements collection process easier on your next project!