Having applications available to complete online can be a massive help. Its a much easier way for applicants to submit materials. It’s convenient and allows organisations to collect information in one central location. In 2018, if you aren’t offering the ability to apply online then don’t expect many applications.

However, having the foresight to have an application hosted online doesn’t necessarily mean it’s straightforward to complete. Many applicants still struggle when completing online application forms. Whether it’s for a grant, scholarship, award or another online submission program, we have spoken to clients who can’t understand why their forms aren’t working.

In the case of job applications, online application forms can discourage many candidates. Hamilton French an Irish recruitment firm recently surveyed nearly five hundred applicants of which 73% complained many online processes were time-consuming and stressful due to the technology utilised.

The most commonly reported problems? Technical bugs, an inability to upload documents, terrible experience completing if using a mobile device, and no way to follow up on the progress of their application.

This highlights that merely offering your application online won’t make the process easier for your applicants. Poorly designed online systems can waste applicants’ time and cause unnecessary aggravation.

So how can you create an online application process that’s seamless for applicants? Here are five essential best practices to prioritise:

  • Add branch/question logic to your application forms
  • Auto-saving is a must
  • Mobile first
  • Automate important notifications
  • Technical support for applicants

Add branch/question logic to your application forms

Branch logic is the ability to jump to another question, or page, depending on the applicant’s answer to a previous question. Branch logic can also help to hide questions depending on the applicant’s response to the last question.

Have you ever chosen an answer from a drop-down list, and another question magically appears below? That’s branch logic at work!

Hiding irrelevant questions can speed up the overall application. It also gives constant direction to the applicant, leaving them feeling guided through the process.

Auto-saving is a must!

Do you ever worry about what will happen if you step away from your computer in the middle of filling something out online? Will your progress save? Will you have to start all over again? Submit allows applicants to save their work as they go. You are granting applicants full control of their application timeline.

Allowing your applicants to save their progress ensures that they carefully complete applications. This is particularly relevant when it comes to detailed submissions such as applying for a grant. For you, this feature could be the difference between a complete or incomplete application.

Mobile first

At Submit we have seen a significant year on year increase of online submissions via smartphone. To the extent that 60% of all online submissions processed by Submit is via a smartphone. Selecting a tool that allows your application to be responsive; or in other words, scales to fit the screen that the applicant is using and is easy to navigate through touch is critical in creating a seamless application.

Providing your applicants with the ability to start or continue their application on various devices will result in less technical difficulties and more convenient and positive application experience.

Automate important notifications

Once applicants have completed their submission, it’s likely they will be anxious to hear back. Keeping in contact with your applicants can help to reassure them that their application is being evaluated and give context to the timeline of your decision-making process.

However, sending out individual emails can be time-consuming. Fortunately, many application management solutions such as Submit allow you to automate essential notifications.

For example, once an application is submitted, you can automatically send a confirmation email to the applicant, providing them with peace of mind.

Technical support for applicants

While automated notifications can give applicants information between each step of the application, technical support can also go a long way in making applicants feel supported throughout their process.

Technical support gives applicants a channel to ask questions if they’re having trouble submitting their application, without the need for an administrator to be present. This way the applicant gets information quickly, and the administrators time isn’t taken up with immediate requests.

Choosing a solution that offers technical support for your applicants, and better yet unlimited technical support, provides your users with a resource to connect with should they have any questions or concerns, and also gives the process a human touch.

If you collect online submissions and applications, it’s critical to provide a process that’s intuitive, quick and free from technical barriers. Moving online is just the first step. To learn how you can add these best practices to your process, talk to one of our senior solutions specialists today who will guide you through the process to see if Submit is the right fit for you.