With our Participant Management function you may be tempted to make changes to your SignUp form (aka registration form), because now you can use data collected in the registration form for so much more.
In this article we outline the steps you need to take and give some helpful advice of what you need to consider BEFORE changing your signup form.
You can only amend your registration form if you are a site administrator. Project administrators can NOT make any changes.
Step 1: Take a look at your existing signup form. This may seem trivial, but we often experience that administrators are not sure what questions are part of the registration process. You are forgiven if you are one of those, you may not have set up the form initially and joined the team later....or maybe it was so long ago that you have simply forgotten.
To check your current signup form, log into your site, go into Site Settings --> Signup Form and click 'Preview' at the very bottom.
Step 2: Now that you know what you are asking participants when they register, take a look at your existing data. To do this, go into your reporting by clicking on Analytics --> Reports, generate an all-time report for at least one project (doesn't matter which one) and under 'Download Report', look for the DEMOGRAPHICS REPORT section and download the 'All Projects' report.
Firstly, this report may take a while to load. Especially if your site as been around for a while and has a large database.
This report will contain data for all your participants that have registered. This includes their email address and user name, timestamps of when they registered, were last seen and, of course, their demographic information coming from the registration form.
You may find gaps in the data at this stage, which could be due to a variety of reasons:
- Your site existed before 2013 and was running on our old system. Participants that have registered before then may have gone through a different registration process.
- You may find a few "Anonymous survey_taker" user accounts. These were also created on the old system when the survey tool had a different participation type.
- Many participants will have no date in "Last seen". The "Last seen" column was only introduced in the last two years, they may have been on the site before then. If you find that the majority is missing, it may be time to send them an email and invite them to come back and get engaged in the next lot of projects.
- You changed your registration form along the way and are now asking different question to when you first started.
- Questions may have been optional in the past and people have not provided answers to these questions.
- Finally, you may find that some data is simply out of date. E.g. someone who registered five years ago could be in another age bracket by now or maybe has moved. If you ask for this type of detail in the registration, it may be time to invite them to update their profile. But more on that later.
Step 3: Hopefully by now you will have a better understanding of your current approach to participant registration. If you decide to make changes to your existing signup form, there are a few DOs and DON'Ts.
- DO: Think about the longer term need for demographic information. What information do you REALLY need?
- DO: Look at other organisations that use EHQ and see what they do.
- DO: Think about the wider use of EHQ and other software in the organisation. Are you collecting other demographic information somewhere? Maybe you want to align EHQ with that.
- DO: Keep any questions that you add short and potentially optional.
- DO: Ask for year of birth if you want people's age. Many clients are asking for ages in brackets, e.g. 20-24, 25-30 and so on. That is fine for a few years, but people get older and move into the next bracket.
- DON'T: Change existing questions too much. It is safe to move questions around. It is also safe to move options within questions around.
- DON'T: Rename question options or 'recycle' a question to something else completely. Data that you have already collected for that question will be compromised.
- DON'T: Make the registration form too long. It is tempting to ask for a lot of information, but people that register usually do so because they want to engage in one of your tools. Don't put them through a very long form before they can do so.
To re-emphasise this point. Adding more questions and re-ordering questions is safe, changing existing questions is generally not. If you have changes in mind but you are unsure if they are safe to do, ask us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 4: After analysing your existing data and adding more fields to your registration form, it would make sense to now invite previously registered participants to come back and update their profile. This is possible and quite easy to do.
Go into your 'Email' tab and send a newsletter. With the new grouping options, you can decide to send emails to your entire database, or only parts of it, e.g. those that have registered before or after a certain date. Remember to establish the group before sending the email. The article Create a dynamic group with time based filters will provide the details.
If you want to ask people to update their profile, make sure to provide instructions on how to do it. You can try it yourself, even as an administrator. Simply click on 'Profile' in the dropdown under you screen name.