Interview: What is JotForm and what makes it special?
Interview with Chad Reid, Director of Communication at JotForm: Can you tell us about JotForm: who it serves, what it does, and why it is special?
JotForm offers the easiest way to create, edit, and publish online forms. It was designed for the less technologically-inclined, so really anyone can build a custom, branded, and powerful online form without knowing how to code.
JotForm is the first and only full-featured form builder to be 100% mobile-friendly. Because we prioritize being the easiest-to-use form builder, we wanted to make sure that it was easy for our users to use JotForm wherever they are, on any device. We also have dozens of integrations with all of the business tools that you may need, whether that be Salesforce, Excel, WePay, and more.
What’s great is how many different types of businesses find ways to use JotForm. Small businesses use JotForm to sell orders or event tickets, collect leads and job applications, and survey their customers. We also see nonprofits using us for volunteer applications and for collecting donations. Really any organization that is short on developer skills, but needs a high quality online form will find JotForm’s handy drag-and-drop form builder extremely easy to navigate.
What’s the JotForm origin story?
JotForm was founded as the first WYSIWYG online form builder in 2006 by CEO Aytekin Tank, who was working as a software consultant at the time for a large media company in New York City. He was frustrated by the lack of options for quickly creating online forms because forms in 2006 required too much effort on both the frontend and backend development sides. So he decided to create an easier solution, which eventually evolved into JotForm.
What metrics do you pay attention to for business success?
There are a lot of metrics we keep our eye on, but we pay special attention to the number of active users we have at any given moment. It’s easy enough getting someone to sign up for JotForm, but we place a big emphasis on making sure that a new user enjoys their experience with JotForm enough to continue using our product consistently. Active users are also more likely to become paid users (we have a freemium pricing model) and recommend JotForm to people they know. If we get lots of signups, but few turn into active users, we know something’s going wrong.
What’s an operating lesson you’ve learned that you often share with others?
We’ve found a great recipe for operating our business that we recommend for any SaaS company, and it revolves structuring your employees around the idea of cross-functional teams. As our company has continued to grow, we needed a way for employees to communicate better and be more efficient. So we implemented cross-functional teams of 4-5 members each. These teams are self-managing, and typically focus on a single metric at a time; the growth team focuses on our active user count, the form builder team focuses on user survey ratings, the data team focuses on the number of reports created, platform team focuses on integrations usage, our widgets team focuses on widgets used, our mobile team works singularly on mobile, and our maintenance team works on outstanding bugs. The single focus yields better results, and the small teams allow them to build camaraderie with their fellow colleagues. It also means each team can operate autonomously and will always have the resources they need on hand without relying on other teams or departments.
When you look to other SaaS players for inspiration, what companies do you look to and why?
There are a few companies that the whole JotForm team collectively admires, and they also happen to be integration partners of ours. We’ve gone to a few events hosted by Box, and it’s hard not to be impressed by Aaron Levie and how far that company has come. We’re also fans of Zapier. That company has made it incredibly easy for small businesses to integrate all of their systems with each other. Plus, it’s amazing that their entire company works remotely — they don’t even have a headquarters — so they must employ some best-of-class communication strategies.
Can you tell us about your journey into offering payments – what led you to explore payments, how was the process, what did you learn along the way?
JotForm offering payments was a natural fit. We always offered a way for businesses to collect every imaginable piece of information from a customer, so it made sense to allow them to collect payments at the same time. Small businesses can sell products using an order form, universities can process application fees on their application forms, and nonprofits can collect funds on their donation forms.
What we’ve learned is simply that everyone needs an easy way of getting paid. So we wanted to make the experience of building a payment form as painless as possible. We integrated our payment partners into the form building experience by using visual and easy-to-find navigation menus, as well as setup wizards for users who don’t already have merchant accounts. And now using JotForm, collecting payments online is as simple as connecting your form to WePay and sending out the link to your form.
What’s next for JotForm?
We’re constantly working on ways to improve our product, which in the past has really focused on the experience of creating forms. Recently, though, we’ve been working on the end product — the form that respondents actually fill out, and we’re going to unveil forms that really cater to the experience of the form responder. It’ll still feature the same customization and utility of our current forms, but we’re working to reimagine how people interact with forms in a changing internet. Stay tuned!