Before you begin your online consultation, you must decide what important information you will collect from your community.
This information will help you pull insights from your consultations, identify gaps in participation and help you target specific groups in your community.
In preparing your sign-up form, you should consider at least half-a-dozen key questions that will help you filter through your database.
These questions will be specific to your community or type of project and should be aligned with your project objectives.
Registration will only be required when participants want to engage with you using your engagement tools, however if you are establishing an ongoing consultation hub it will also be worth growing your database through dedicated campaigns.
Preparing for your community database:
EHQ is built around our Participant Relationship Management (PRM) tool to allow you to segment and understand your community database.
This feature allows you to analyse your database using a range of different filters including; Aware, Informed and Engaged actions for each project, project and participant tags, suburb as well as sign up form questions.
It is your sign up form questions that allow you the most flexibility in segmenting your database because you can ask the questions that are important to your community or project.
You will need to set this up before you launch and it is important that you have thought about how you might want to identify your audiences for promotion and also reporting.
So this article helps to plan your registration form questions and then use our detailed help article on Customise your signup form to create and edit questions in the form. The registration form can be accessed from the Site settings menu, by selecting the Signup Form link.
Choosing the right questions
Because you are essentially setting up your database by creating your signup form, it's important that you choose questions that are going to help you manage your database.
Standard question types include email, login or screen name, password and suburb in Australia and ZIP Code in the USA. Adding a question about age and gender can also greatly help you identify the basic demographics of your registered community.
Below are some recommendations for how to choose the right questions and setup your form.
Login: We recommend putting a disclaimer next to this question that indicates to your community how the information will be publicly available when they participate with some tool. You can also rename this question to something that indicates this such as "Choose a screen name".
Password: Explaining the password field is also a nice way to reassure your future participants.
First Name/ Last Name: You may want to ask your community for their actual names to help build out your database. This can be done by adding two separate Single Line question types. Again, reassuring your community about how the information will be used is important.
Age: If you would like to learn about the age of your participants we highly recommend not asking for the full date of birth of your participants, instead ask your participants to indicate their year of birth. This can be done by using the Date question type and selecting the 'Collect only year' checkbox.
Gender: Asking about gender can be important in many situations. However it's important that the way you ask your gender question is inclusive and respects all types of gender identification. If you fail to acknowledge other gender types beyond Male and Female you could potentially exclude and offend parts of your community. We recommend either adding an other field or listing out all the gender identities that you are aware of as part of your question. Again, it's important to reinforce how this information will be used.
Introduction: It is a good practice to add a section at the start of your registration form to explain to participants about the advantages of signing up. Use a 'section' question type and provide your information. You can drag and drop this question to the start of your form. The section at the end of this article describes the drag and drop feature.
Connection Questions: Going beyond basic demographic questions can also help you identify your communities interests and relationship to your organisation or project. Adding connection questions makes it quick and easy for you to later identify different parts of your community. Use Checkbox question type to build out these questions so that there is the opportunity for people to select all of the fields that apply.
Extra Questions: If you want to dig even deeper but are worried about putting people off signing up for your site, you might consider using a conditional question in your sign up form that asks people if they would like to offer you more information voluntarily.
Below is an example where a conditional questions has been used to ask for further personal information.
If the user selects No, they can quickly complete the registration process. If they select Yes, further questions will appear for them to answer.
The article on Customise your signup form provides details on how to create these conditional questions.
Community Panel/Reference Group: If you are interested in setting up a community panel or reference group it's a great idea to capture this information from your registration form. By doing this, you will be able to pull a list of interested participants at any point in time and communicate with them directly about your community panel initiatives.
Re-arrange your questions: At any time you can change the order of the questions by simply dragging and dropping as illustrated below.
Tip: You should always test your sign up form from your users perspective to ensure you understand the process they go through to join your community engagement site.
You should also customise the introduction to your registration form and the welcome message that is displayed after a participant registers by reading our article on Customising your registration introduction/welcome messages.
If you are thinking about changing your registration form after you have launched your site make sure you read our article on impacts of Changing your signup form.