The VBS registration process can be lengthy and challenging. Keeping track of everything you need can be tough.
With paper forms, you risk the chance of losing them somewhere in the process. From the parent filling out the form to the person manually entering the list of registrants, there is no guarantee all the information will be gathered correctly.
And, while online forms ensure the data stays organized in one place, VBS forms can often be tedious and challenging to create without the right system.
So, what’s a children’s pastor or VBS director to do?
Well, there’s good news: creating a successful online form doesn’t actually have to be daunting. With the right process and tools at your disposal, you can easily build an online VBS registration form—without spending hours staring at your computer.
Before you get too deep into planning this year’s Vacation Bible School, make sure you have your best sign-up foot forward. We’ll look at some best practices to create a top-notch, user-friendly VBS registration form this summer.
1. Provide Key Information
Establish trust with parents. Answer questions before they ask.
Before you expect parents to start filling in personal information about themselves and their children through a form, they need to know key pieces of information like dates, times, cost, and location. Explain key details on your church website and at the top of the form.
On your VBS events page, explain what your VBS program will be about and why their child will want to attend this year. Include a clear heading with relevant information detailed through easy-to-read bullet points. It could be the extra motivation to help finish the form.
2. Include Only Necessary Fields
Don’t stray from the primary goal of the form.
The fewer form fields you have in your registration process, the less likely people will abandon the form halfway through. Consider what information you absolutely must gather – child’s name, age, allergies – and leave out anything that isn’t necessary. The shorter the form and more to the point you can be, the better.
Stay on target. Don’t clutter the form with extra items like volunteer registration. Not only could these extraneous items make you look unorganized to parents, but it will add unnecessary length to your form. If you’re looking for volunteers, consider having a separate registration option on your VBS events page.
3. Group Fields Logically
Now that you have a list of fields you need, organize them in a way that makes sense.
Even though you’re trying to keep your form short, sometimes there’s no way around having a good number of fields. But, no matter how much information is required, you’ll benefit from grouping the fields into a logical sequence.
Before you create the form, create a draft with all the form fields you need. Now, organize those fields into separate categories. For example, parent contact info can be in one section while information about the child can be a separate section.
4. Use Supporting Text and Callouts
Make sure to look at the form from the parents’ perspective and add any helpful instructions.
VBS is a great way to introduce families to your church. As a church leader, you know the names of the children’s ministry groups, but that doesn’t mean the parent filling out the form would.
Add subtext below form fields to help explain topics that might be confusing for a new guest. And since the goal is to be helpful, make sure to provide instructions on how to fill out unclear or less-intuitive fields. This makes it easier on the parents, and you’ll end up with better data.
5. Clearly Identify and Explain Errors
If the form can’t be properly submitted, make sure to explain why.
It’s inevitable–even with help, parents will make mistakes when filling out registration forms on your site. If a required field isn’t completed correctly, don’t just tell them a mistake exists. Show them in which field the error occurred and explain the correct way to fill out the field.
Display the error in bright colors so it stands out. It could say something like, “This field is required.” This makes it so they don’t have to hunt for the mistake or what they missed.
6. Use a Text Area for Long Answers
Make sure the parent has proper space to provide any extra information that may be unique to them.
A large comment box or text area will allow parents to provide longer responses to more complicated subjects. For example, providing a comment box for a question like “Does your child have any allergies or special needs?” allows the parent to write out the full description of what that might be.
This information is crucial to the VBS staff and volunteers. The more information a parent can provide upfront, the better you can prepare to accommodate that child’s needs. If you only provide a checkbox or short text box, you may miss out on gathering everything you need in one place.
7. Allow Parents to Register Multiple Children
Options to register more than one child on a single form can be very helpful.
This is likely where a stellar form-building tool will greatly help you out. Some parents will want to register more than one child at once. This means you should create a form that has multiple groupings for the same information.
With Clover, you can add form elements one time, place them in a group element, and then duplicate them. This allows you to add an additional child to the form template in a matter of seconds instead of having to add all the form elements individually.
8. Thank Parents for Registering
Make the parents feel reassured and welcome.
Whether a “thank you” message pops up after the form is submitted or an email is sent to the person who just registered, make sure they feel loved and welcome. It’s important for the parent to know that you received the information. You can even include the next steps or explain what to expect as the VBS week approaches.
Now that you have some tips on how to create the best VBS registration form, it’s time to start building! If you are looking for an easy-to-use form builder, Clover’s got you covered. If you have questions, connect with us today! We’d love to chat.