Be on top form with your data collection

microsoft lists microsoft sharepoint video guide Mar 27, 2024
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Introducing the game-changing new forms experience in Microsoft Lists

We all have projects or processes that have the need to collect information from various team members and stakeholders.

A go-to quick-win is to spin up a new shared Excel spreadsheet, before you know it your important data is flowing in. But stealth comes with risks! Without controls, it’s pretty easy for a well-meaning teammate to accidentally randomise your columns. Or, maybe you need to collect slightly differing information from different colleagues (confusion reigns in the worksheet!).

As an often overlooked fundamental data collection and collaboration app, Microsoft Lists has some pretty impressive capabilities to bring structure to your data collaboration.

Lists is a veteran that can trace it roots right back to the start of SharePoint, in recent years it’s been treated to a promotion with a look and feel makeover, its own place on the app launcher and a mobile app too.

If you’re less familiar with the product take a look at our free Microsoft Lists overview video.

While vast improvements to Lists like being able to easily format your columns, or make useful card views are greatly received, one ‘classic’ element that has survived throughout is the rather lacklustre ‘new item’ form that you’d share with collaborators.

There are plenty of technical tips and tricks to create a better user experience, but what a busy Microsoft 365 user really needs (and expects) is a modern out-of-the-box data collection experience, akin to that enjoyed with Microsoft Forms.

And, now there is! 

Here’s our first impressions of the new Microsoft Lists forms experience with our top Loves, Likes and Hopes for this absolute game-changing new feature.

How can you create a form in your existing list?

From now on you should see a new ‘Forms’ button in the Microsoft Lists menu.

Clicking it brings up the new forms gallery where you can see any existing forms for the list or go ahead and create a new form.

Each form comes with a unique link address that you can share in an email, Teams chat or add to intranet pages.


What we love about new Microsoft Lists forms 

Easy creation

It’s really straightforward to create forms. You simply pick the columns you want to include in your form, then drag and drop them into the correct order.

You’ve got the option to tweak names in the form if the column title isn’t so helpful for your collaborators and you can add a description to each column too (there’s room for plenty of text).
You can even create new columns for the list directly from the form.

Multiple forms

A great touch is the ability to create multiple forms from one list. Creating a unique form for each set of stakeholders means you’ll only collect what you need. Finally say farewell to all those ‘N/A’ comments cluttering your precious data.

This is super-enhanced by the ability to set whether providing information is optional or required in each form. At last Lists can manage columns that are mandatory for some, but not others, in an out-of the-box way!

No worries about access

The user experience for the form sits away from the list. Contributors can use the form without needing any access to the list itself, so wave good bye to breaking inheritance or complex permissions. This is also a great bonus for confidential information too.


What we like about new Microsoft Lists forms 

Themes and styles

We really like the look and feel to the new forms, they are styled in the modern look we’re used to in new Microsoft products. Themes give the possibility to chose a background design and select a theme colour for buttons.

Unlike Microsoft Forms there’s currently no option to add a custom background, corporate logo or bespoke theme colour. Potentially this is not so much of an issue for organisation internal use. Black is available as a theme colour though and lots of corporate brand guidelines include that as a failsafe system colour.

Custom thank you message

After someone completes a form, they are presented with a thank you message and you’re able to make this your own.

You’re not able to add any rich text or links to your message, and there isn’t any option for a redirect either, an example would take someone back to an intranet page. Again, not a massive problem, but from a user experience point of view if you were linking from an intranet, it would probably make sense to open the form in a new tab.


Our hopes for the new Microsoft Lists forms 

List forms are brand new, and they certainly pack a punch with version one. No doubt over the next few months they’ll evolve as users provide feedback, here are a couple of feature we think would add great value.

Sharing with groups

At the moment, all forms create a sharing link that will work for everyone in the same tenant. This isn’t a big risk as they don’t provide access to the list data but generating group based or individual sharing links would be a great way to safeguard approval or privileged request processes.

External sharing

Today sharing links for List forms only work within the tenant. List forms could build a real advantage if they were able to be shared externally too. Allowing customers or clients to add data directly into your Microsoft Lists could cut down on manual work. It could also help the quick deployment of joined up processes in a merger or acquisition scenario, when often colleagues are scattered on various legacy IT.

The new Microsoft Lists forms experience is absolutely an amazing addition to the power of Microsoft Lists, with so many applications to support data collaboration. Give it a try today and let us know what you think!

Published: 27 March 2024



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