We need more useless PDF forms online

If your business or agency provides PDF files for your various forms, be sure to make them completely useless. Don’t let users fill in the blanks in their PDF application. Password protect them. Make sure the link is dead. Why? So that you can attract the ire of your site’s visitors, of course!

This short rant is inspired by the folks in the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. That department is charged with, among other things, creating and providing a form to be filled out and submitted to the county auditor when a piece of real estate is transferred. I needed to fill one out this morning, so after a Google search, I found the form and downloaded it. The form itself is three pages. The first page asks for information about the property and the conditions of the transfer (for value, gift, etc.). I typed in the data and checked a series of boxes, enjoying the fact that the department provided this fill-in form to make everyone’s life easier.

The second page asks for information about the preparer, so I was happy to fill in my name. But then when I clicked on the field to type in my city, state, and zip code, I found out the field is password protected. So is the field for the phone number. So is every other field on the page.

What. The. Hell.

Why on earth someone would think it makes sense to password-protect a field that can be filled in by pen anyway is beyond me. Maybe someone forgot to remove password protection before uploading the form (although I cannot envision why the fields would have been password-protected in the first place). Whatever the reason, this experience gives you the excuse to check your forms available online to make sure they are usable, easily found, and downloadable.


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