Having applications available to complete online can be a massive help to both organisations offering application opportunities, and to those applying. Its a much easier way for applicants to submit materials, its 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 and simple to complete. Many applicants still struggle when completing online applications, whether it’s for a grant, graduate program, award or another online submission program.

In the case of job applications, for example, online application forms discourage many candidates. Hamilton French an Irish recruitment firm recently surveyed nearly five hundred applicants of which 73% reported that online processes were stressful and time-intensive, especially when issues arose with technology.

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 we create an online application process that’s seamless for applicants, from start to finish? 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 a term used to describe the ability to jump to another question, or page, depending on the applicant’s answer to a previous question. 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 unnecessary or irrelevant questions, showing additional relevant questions, or advancing the applicant through the process 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? You might ask, “will my progress be saved?” or “will I have to start all over again?”. For example, Submit.com allows applicants to save and come back later, this allows the applicant full control of their application timeline but also removes unnecessary stress.

Allowing your applicants to save their progress ensures that they can take the right amount of time to complete the application, this is particularly relevant when it comes to detailed submissions such as applying for a grant. For you, the administer this feature could be the difference between a complete or incomplete application.

Mobile first

At Submit.com 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.com is completed and submitted 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 accessible 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 emails individually can be time-consuming. Fortunately, many application management solutions such as Submit.com 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.com is the right fit for you.

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