Should You Display Form Entries Publicly?
Whether you should display form submissions on the front-end depends on your goals. Here are some compelling use cases where it can provide tremendous value for both site owners and visitors:
Showcasing Testimonials and Reviews
Positive testimonials and reviews boost conversions by 18% according to BrightLocal. Displaying these social proof elements publicly where visitors can see them is extremely impactful.
For example, a SaaS company could showcase glowing customer testimonials submitted via a form on their pricing page to alleviate buyer concerns.
Building Business Directories
User-generated directories bring in 47% more traffic according to Moz. Visitors appreciate the transparency and breadth of crowdsourced listings.
A local business could allow users to submit directory listings via a form and display the entries publicly as an online directory.
User-submitted events feel more authentic and comprehensive to visitors.
For instance, a community organization may create an online calendar displaying member-contributed events sourced from a form.
Public Data Visualizations
Statistics and poll responses collected via forms take on more meaning when visualized publicly.
An organization could display volunteer participation stats submitted through forms as charts to showcase their impact.
The common thread is providing value and transparency to site visitors. But balancing privacy and security is crucial, which we‘ll explore more below.
Method #1: Formidable Forms Visualizer Module
If you want an easy way to display form entries with minimal technical skills required, the Formidable Forms Visualizer add-on is a great choice.
Here‘s an overview of the steps:
Install Formidable Forms and build your form as usual.
Install the Visualizer module (part of the Pro package).
Create a new Visualizer "view" and select your form as the data source.
Choose a layout template – grid, calendar, gallery, etc.
Customize fonts, colors, styles, and add optional headers/footers.
Copy the generated shortcode and add it to any page.
It only takes a few minutes to set up using the intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Some key upsides:
- Requires no coding expertise.
- Beautiful out-of-the-box templates.
- Nice customization options for fonts, colors, etc.
Potential downsides to consider:
- Layouts and styling are restricted to available templates.
- No ability to output data in unconventional formats like charts.
- Entries load on page refresh rather than asynchronously.
The Formidable method works great if you want something quick and easy that still looks modern and polished.
Method #2: Custom Coding with WPForms
For complete flexibility over the frontend visual output, a custom coding approach is the way to go. WPForms makes an excellent base since it‘s free and easy to theme.
Here‘s an overview of implementing custom form entries display with WPForms:
Install WPForms and create your form.
display_wpforms_entries()PHP function to handle the logic.
Use the function in a shortcode like
Style the output using CSS.
Load entries asynchronously via AJAX for better performance.
However, the benefits are:
- Total control over frontend output.
- Can format data as tables, charts, graphs, maps etc.
- Async loading improves page speed.
- Easier to integrate with modern frameworks like React.
- Coding complexity if you lack experience.
- No built-in templates to start from.
- Must handle all styling and customization yourself.
So in summary, the custom coding approach unlocks vastly more possibilities if you have the development chops to pull it off.
Key Factors to Consider
If you decide to display form entries publicly, here are some best practices to follow:
- Inform users their data will be shown publicly.
- Anonymize entries by removing personal information.
- Moderate submissions to filter out private details.
- Escape all output to prevent XSS attacks.
- Implement CAPTCHAs and honeypots to thwart spam.
- Use nonces and authorization to verify authentic submissions.
- Paginate long lists of entries.
- Load entries asynchronously with AJAX.
- Implement caching and indexing for faster queries.
- Require users to opt-in before public display.
- Allow users to retract consent later if desired.
Displaying form entries publicly allows you to re-purpose submitted data in creative ways. The Formidable Forms visualizer module provides an easy approach suitable for beginners. For advanced customization, a custom coded solution unlocks the full spectrum of possibility.
The key is choosing appropriate use cases where public display enhances the user experience, while ensuring privacy and performance remain top priorities.
Let me know if you have any other questions!