Why Digital Forms Are Superior To Fillable PDFs
As fast as the world seems to be moving, and as widespread as access to the internet has become, we're still missing out on massive efficiency gains during the loan original process by using “non-digitally native” solutions like fillable PDFs.
It’s easy to underestimate how young the internet actually is. In fact, the world wide web as we know it only went live on August 6th, 1991. Compare that timeline to the beginnings of home telephones in the 1920’s, with the first home phone installation occurring in 1877. After 144 years of innovation, not only are wires no longer necessary, but the phone industry has advanced data connectivity to the point of 5G.
It can take many decades to adjust to new infrastructure, and adjusting to the internet is no different. As a way to gain trust in and relate to new infrastructure, we seek to replicate processes that were conceived based on outgoing infrastructure rules, rather than fully embracing the capabilities that new infrastructure brings.
Fillable PDFs are a great example of a solution that was adapted from the physical world into the digital word. A physical piece of paper that was previously completed by hand that has been modified for a digital infrastructure. While digital PDFs are significantly more convenient than having to complete a form with pen and paper, they’re very inefficient considering what’s possible with digital forms. In fact, with the power of digital form technology, it’s somewhat surprising that fillable PDFs remain as popular as they are for loan origination.
4 short-comings of fillable PDFs:
They're challenging to create and modify since access to the form is file based. You have to get a new file into everyone’s hands every time you make a change.
They're challenging to complete. A minimum level of tech savviness required to complete, save, and send.
Data must be manually re-entered into databases or scraped from the PDF, adding unnecessary time and opportunity for error.
Information that isn't always required, or relevant, takes up space and distracts the person who is providing the information.
How digital forms address those problems with even more value:
Easier to create and modify as access to the form is URL based. Changes go live instantly so that anyone using the link has access to the latest version.
Custom client pathways based on prior answers, with the form optimizing on the spot to provide a personalized experience
Database compatibility. Data can flow directly into a database to be used in a variety of ways without having to re-enter data.
End-user convenience! The ability to review final selections rather than every potential answer along with instant calculations.
The last might be one of the biggest advantages. Why use your valuable time paging through a lengthy PDF, with some pages offering only a piece or two of useful information, and then copying that information into a separate spreadsheet for calculations to be done when a one page summary could be produced with calculations within the output.
If you found this article interesting, we’d love to share more about our approach to smarter forms that make applications easier for your clients, and faster for you to review! Lenderfit offers the power of Formstack forms within our simple to use, client-facing platform.