Setting Up Your Submission Call: A 10-Step Checklist

01/24/2019

Are you ready to begin using Submittable for your submission or application process? This start-to-finish guide to creating your submission call will lead you through the process. From creating a form to testing your system, each step along the way will prepare your organization for success.

You’ll find a consolidated checklist below—scroll down for further details on each step.

  1. Complete Your Form’s General Settings
  2. Utilize the Form Designer
  3. Set up Assignments & Notifications
  4. Prepare for Reviewing
  5. Edit General Guidelines
  6. Customize the Look & Feel
  7. Test your form
  8. Train your review team
  9. Set up Response Templates
  10. Run a Final Test

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1. Complete Your Form’s General Settings

This section provides key information for your potential submitter. The most essential steps here include giving your form a clear name (i.e. “2019 Grant Application”), outlining important guidelines, and deciding when you are ready for your form to go Live. The Live box is automatically checked, but as you’re drafting and testing your application, you may prefer to uncheck this box, keeping your form from being available online while you get set up.

In the General Settings, you can also add a submission fee, add an optional payment, set a start and end date for your call, hide your form if you only wish to share it via direct link, and add tags to appear in Discover. This is also where you may choose to archive your form once your call has ended.

As you move through the following steps, be sure to consider ensuring your process is accessible to all users.

2. Utilize the Form Designer

This portion of your form is already populated with three fields—submission title, cover letter, and file upload. If these fields don’t suit your call, hover over them and select the trash icon to remove each one. Drag and drop the appropriate fields into your form, fill in the title for each one, and add any additional information. Hovering over each fields will allow you to drag that field using the arrow in the top left corner or delete the field with the trash icon in the upper right.

You’ll want to check any necessary boxes to require certain fields, hide their content from reviewers, or keep specific information for internal use. If you use features like auto-labeling, form logic, and gallery view, these additional boxes will appear in the relevant form fields.

3. Set up Assignments & Notifications

While this section isn’t required to enable your form, your selections here will be important for your internal workflow and communication with applicants. The first two drop-downs allow you customize who submission form data and notes will be accessible to, and with the third, you can automatically assign submissions to specific team members as they come in.

All individuals assigned to receive submissions for this form will receive an email when new submissions are received unless you unselect the checkbox in this section.

Don’t miss the opportunity to customize the automatic email response all applicants will receive. Create a custom response template by following the link in this section and then return to your work by selecting Forms at the top of the screen. If you’d like submitters to land on a specific web page when they’ve finished sending their submission, include a designated URL in the final text box.

4. Prepare for Reviewing

If you’ll be using Thumbs up/Thumbs down voting, your review system will automatically be in place. Still, it may be helpful to create guidelines or a rubric for reviewers to help them determine which criteria should constitute a “yes” vote, a “maybe,” or a “no.”

For Custom Reviews, you’ll see a place for reviewer instructions and four sample review questions, each using a different form field type. You can edit these fields, rearrange, or delete them depending on your review design.

Do note that Radio Lists allow reviewers to make only one selection, whereas Checkbox Lists allow them to make more than one. If you wish to assign a numeric response to certain questions, use a Rating Radio List or Rating Checkbox.

If you’d like reviewers to be able to edit their reviews, select the checkbox at the top of the page. Be sure to make your review live before reviewing begins but not until you’re certain on the criteria, since team members will have access to the form right away. Find more information on creating custom review forms here.

5. Edit General Guidelines

To the left of your forms list, select Edit General Guidelines. The information in your Public Profile will appear as part of your submission form. You are required to include your organization’s name, website, timezone, and two contact emails (one for administrative correspondence and a privacy contact for GDPR purposes).

The text you include in the General Guidelines will appear at the top of your Submittable page above your submission form(s). This is a great place for specific information about your submission call(s) that might feel too cluttered for the from itself.

The rest of this page will help you customize your submission form(s). A couple important considerations here:

-Selecting Require Address allows you to obtain a submitters address without including a field for that information in your form.

-Choosing to Enable Submitter Notes makes it possible for submitters to message you from within the software before you have corresponded with them.

-If you Allow Edit Request, submitters can contact you to request the ability to make changes to their submitted work.

6. Customize the Look & Feel

Under More at the top left of your screen, select Configurations > Look & Feel. Here you can place a branded header at the top of your submission page. If you do not wish to include an image, a text version of your organization name will appear.

You can also customize the colors on your page with a specific HEX value or by clicking into any of the first five text boxes to access a color grid. Select a font family and whether you’d like your submission button to say “submit” or some other phrase. Default settings in Look & Feel will also leave you with an attractive submission page if you’d rather not customize.

Preview your Look & Feel at any time by selecting View Your Site.

7. Test your form

This is an essential step before opening your call for submissions. Go to your submission page and create a test submission. As you work through the steps in your form, be sure that instructions are clear and follow logically.

Once you’ve submitted, check that the confirmation email you receive goes to the appropriate party and that you’re happy with the message included. If you or members of your team are set up for automatic notification with each new submission, be sure these messages were received. Now go back to your administrative submission list view and look inside the test submission to make sure the information appears in the right format for your review.

Leave a comment on your test submission that is only visible to your Assigned Teams or Admins. Toggle back to your personal submission using the icon at the top right of your screen to ensure that this comment is not invisible to you as a submitter. Have other members of your team send in test submissions to ensure your form is ready to go. Test In-App Messaging to ensure your understanding.

8. Train your review team

All reviewers will need a Submittable account. You can invite reviewers to your team under More > Team. Invite reviewers individually (+Add Member) or as a group (Add Multiple). You can give reviewers titles if that makes sense for your process. The legend on the right-hand side of the screen details what each permission level will be able to do within their Submittable account.

Each reviewer will receive an email invitation to create an account and log in. If you’ll be training reviewers via email, sharing the following articles will be useful, especially for first time Submittable users:

What to do when you receive an invitation to be a reviewer

How to review, rate, and comment on submissions

If you’ll be training reviewers in person or on a call, these articles also provide a valuable list of steps to cover, which you can customize depending on your process. And do let reviewers know that Submittable’s support team is always happy to assist them via email or chat (click the icon in the lower left).

Be sure your reviewers have access to your primary criteria for reviewing submissions if it’s not included in your review form. A rubric or other guide may be useful to share before reviewers begin to help ensure everyone is on the same page.

9. Set up Response Templates

Under More > Configurations, you can create custom response emails for use when communicating with submitters. You’ll note that Submittable includes default Acceptance and Decline templates. Use these as a starting point or create your own templates. Placeholder tags can be useful for ensuring messages are automatically customized.

You can include messages that accompany acceptances and declines in the Other Responses field, although this is most often used if you need to communicate important information to submitters apart from your final decision. If, for example, you won’t be announcing funded applications until a later date than anticipated, or you want to notify finalists that they’ve progressed to the next round, Other Response templates are useful. Ideally, they save you from having to respond to multiple submitter emails on the same topic.

10. Run a Final Test

Once your reviewers are set up and your response templates are in place, run an additional test or two to make sure your process is ready to go. You may even want to assign test submissions to reviewers who are prepared to assist with your test.

This will allow you to ensure your review process is well-suited to your submission call—do the reviewers’ test responses give you all the information you need? Lastly, try accepting, declining, or sending another type of response template to a test submission to make sure you’re satisfied with your messaging.

If you haven’t already, consider adding a “Submit” button to your website. You can retrieve the code for this on the left-hand side of your forms list view.

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Congratulations! Your submission call is ready. Be sure to make your form(s) Live in General Settings before you begin sharing your submission page.

If you catch a mistake once submissions begin coming in, you can still make adjustments. For example, if you need to add a field to your form, you could either ask early submitters to withdraw and resubmit, you could make their submission editable so they can fill in the missing information, or you could have them send the information to you directly and you can add it manually to their form. That said, running thorough tests, double-checking your form(s), and following the steps listed above can save you from the hassle.

Be sure to take advantage of Submittable’s support resources (articles and messaging) and share them with your submitters. If you run into an issues, we’re always happy to help. Here’s to your painless and productive submission call!

Rachel Mindell

Rachel Mindell is a content creator and strategist for Submittable's Marketing and Product Teams. She also writes and teaches poetry. You can find Rachel's creative work here: rachelmindell.com