WordPress Online Song Request Submission Form

**NOTE** This article assumes you have a working knowledge of WordPress administration.

Putting my karaoke songlist online for guests to search was one step, but I also wanted to make things even more efficient by setting up a system for singers to send me their song requests online rather than on slips of paper. There are online cloud services that offer this feature, but since I’m just hosting karaoke for personal friends and family (not professionally), it didn’t make sense to spend money on a service to do that – especially if I could find a way to do it in WordPress.

I knew I could probably use a contact form plug-in for WordPress for the form, but the challenge I faced was that I wanted guests to be able to see the song information in the table while they filled out the song request form. I could put the form above or below the table, but that would mean scrolling up and down in the page every time they needed to read information from the table again. Ideally, I would be able to put the contact form in the sidebar of the WordPress page, but not every contact form plugin has a sidebar widget feature.

I found a few contact forms that did include a sidebar feature, but those I tested didn’t allow me to customize the form to get the fields I wanted in the form: Karaoke Singer(s) Name, Song Title, Disc ID, and Track #. Most contact forms assume you want a customer to schedule an appointment with you or submit a question through your site and the fields they had were all wrong for my needs.

Then I found a plug-in called Shortcode Widget. This plug-in adds a new widget in WordPress Administrator that lets you add a ‘Shortcode Text’ widget to the sidebar. This is similar to the standard text widget, except this one works with shortcodes, something that is used in most WordPress plug-ins. The standard text widget works with HTML, but not with shortcodes.

The first contact form I tried with the Shortcode Widget didn’t show up at all in the sidebar. I knew the Shortcode Widget was working since the test the developer suggests worked for me on my site. So, I switched to the Fast Secure Contact Form plug-in. This one still had a few fields I don’t want that create by default when I set up a new form, but I was able to disable the fields I didn’t want to use (it wouldn’t let me delete these.) Then I added new fields that had the labels and formats I needed, and plugged the shortcode for this form into the Shortcode Widget. Voila! As you can see in the sidebar to the right of this post, I now have a working song request submission form.

Now there are a few more details that make this form viable. I set up an email account that is dedicated to just song requests, so when I receive new requests from singers, they won’t get buried under other email. I set this account up in the email app on my smartphone, so even if I can’t get internet on my laptop during the party, I will be able to keep up with new song requests using my phone.

Having the song requests submitted this way has several benefits:

  • It makes it easy to keep track of what order requests were submitted.
  • It minimizes the chance that a request will be lost.
  • The guests can send in their requests from their seat and not have to walk around whoever is currently singing to turn in a request.
  • Using required fields on the form ensures users fill out all of the fields you need. Of course, they could put fake data in, but hopefully that won’t happen.

That’s it – setting this up was very easy once I found the right plug-ins. That’s pretty much true of most things in WordPress. It’s all about finding the right plug-in. Leave a comment on this post if you have any questions about this.


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