What is an Intake Form and How Do You Create One?

/ 6 min read
Vivian Tejeda

You know those tools you discover that—once you use them—you can’t help but wonder why you didn’t know about them earlier?

Intake forms are one of those tools.

They’re customizable enough to serve a ton of different use cases and easy enough to put together in a matter of minutes. Regardless of whether you’re a freelancer, solopreneur, a growing agency, or a new small business, you can use intake forms to create a streamlined and impressive client process that collects data for you.

Intrigued? Here’s what you need to know about intake forms (and how to seamlessly create them).

What's an online intake form?

An intake form collects all the relevant data a business needs to determine how to best provide its service. An online intake form does exactly the same thing, except rather than using a paper form, potential clients answer digitally.

You can find intake forms across a wide variety of industries, from accounting firms to doctor's offices. Chances are, you’re probably filled several out throughout your life. Some common examples include:

  • Medical history intake forms
  • Project intake forms
  • New client forms
  • Consent forms
  • Graphic design service intake forms

What are the benefits of intake forms?

You can probably guess some of the benefits intake forms can provide to your workflow. Yet some key benefits are not so obvious.

1. Get access to key data upfront

Gathering all the relevant information from potential clients up front saves both you and them a headache.

With an effective client intake form customized to the needs of your business, you can vet customers quickly, and store data for easy access down the road.

2. Save resources

Time, money, and your team’s skills don’t have to be wasted with clunky manual data collection processes.

With intake forms, you can gather the right data easily online. No need to spend extra time finding yesterday’s client information, scheduling Zoom calls, or getting on lengthy phone calls.

3. Centralise your data with a project management tool

These days, most teams execute their goals and projects with the help of some sort of project management tool.

Once you connect your online forms with the appropriate folders and tasks, you’re setting up a smoother collaboration system that makes data accessible for your whole team, all from one central location.

4. Create a smoother onboarding experience

Onboarding new clients or new employees? A custom intake form is a great way to ensure the process is as thorough as possible. You can gather data quickly, and make sure no key questions go unasked.

5. Kickstart automated processes

Bring automation and intake forms together and you’re in for a real productivity treat.

You can use an integration to connect your intake form with your favourite apps to automatically update customer data in your CRM, or send a Slack message to your team when a new form is submitted.

Does your business need an intake form?

Many businesses can benefit from using an intake form, but service-based businesses tend to need them most. Why? Because services tend to be tailored to the specific needs of each customer. Since no one customer is the same, personalization through data collection is necessary.

Here are a few examples of service industries that could benefit from intake forms.

  • Freelance service providers (designers, writers, videographers)
  • Digital agencies (graphic design, marketing, content writing)
  • Accountants
  • Law firms
  • Education (teachers, counsellors, childcare providers)
  • Fitness businesses (personal trainers, gym owners, yoga teachers)
  • Construction businesses
  • Healthcare (doctors, dentists, physical therapists)

What should an intake form include?

What an intake form includes depends on the industry it's used in. A physician will ask different questions within an intake form from a copywriter. A freelance accountant’s intake form will look different from a fitness trainer’s form.

Having said this, one thing’s for sure: your intake form should go beyond a simple contact form. Sure, you should include the basic fields included in almost every intake form:

  • Client name
  • Date
  • Email address
  • Business name

But once you’ve included the basic intake form fields, take a moment to consider what additional questions you can ask that’ll help you provide a good or service.

What are the nuances of your industry worth getting more customer information about?

What recurring customer requests are you seeing that could be taken care of by gathering more specific data through an intake form at the beginning of your client onboarding process?

These might include:

  • Emergency or primary contact
  • Project-specific information (like budgets and deadlines)
  • Additional comments/notes
  • How did you find out about us?
  • Specific design requests

Taking the time to round out your intake form with close-ended and open-ended form fields sets you up for success. Custom forms help you get the information you need to provide the best experience possible to your customers.

And by gathering this data from the get-go, you can avoid pestering customers with questions down the line.

How to use Paperform to create an intake form

At this point, you know all about intake forms and why they’re such a great tool for service-based businesses. Here’s how to use Paperform to make your first (and the rest) of your intake forms.

1. Create with the no-code editor

Paperform's no-code editor makes it easy to create intake forms that automate your business. No need to employ a whole tech team to develop intake forms with added complexity.

With Paperform, building an intake form is as easy as writing a document. Click anywhere to add one of our 25+ field types, including ratings, payment fields, and signatures.

Once you’re happy with your intake form, you can share the link directly with your customers, embed it in a pre-existing webpage, or host it as its own page on Paperform at no additional cost.

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14 Day Free Trial, No CC Required

2. Add your brand colours

Paperform offers you the perfect balance of beauty and brains. You get all the advanced form behaviour you could need (like calculations and conditional logic) and all the design options you want.

You can personalise every element of your creation, from the font of the first letter to the look of your success page. Add and edit images, change colours, and play with themes from the configuration menu.

“Paperform seamlessly matches the look and feel of my existing landing pages. With every other form builder I’ve tried, you can tell that the form has just been embedded onto the website. With Paperform, however, my forms look like they’re part of the website; they just blend into the page and represent my brand perfectly.”

- Kassy Pajarillo

3. Use our templates

Don’t feel like starting from the blank page? No problem. Paperform has over 650 unique, designer-made templates for you to choose from. Each one is made with a particular use case in mind.

Check out these popular intake form templates:

4. Leverage integrations

With Paperform’s vast array of integrations, you can share data across platforms to automate everyday processes.

Organise and store client information from your intake form in a Notion Database, or send tasks directly to Trello to make managing clients easier.

Manage your team in Asana? Connect Paperform and ensure each card is populated with the corresponding client information automatically.

Here are just a few of the over 3,000 direct and Zapier integrations you can enjoy with Paperform.

→ 📹 More of a visual learner? Check out this step-by-step video to learn how to integrate Zapier with Paperform.

Intake forms made easy

Paperform makes it easy to create both simple and complex intake forms in a matter of minutes. Why not try it for yourself? Get started with our 14-day free trial and start building innovative, beautiful intake forms today.


About the author
Vivian Tejeda
Paperform Contributor
Vivian Tejeda is a B2B SaaS and marketing writer.

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