Designing applications

When you design an application, you'll be adding and organizing sections so you can collect information from applicants in a methodical, orderly way. There are four kinds of sections: headings, text blocks, fields, and pages. Headings and text blocks let you organize and explain the different sections of your application. Fields let you collect information from your applicants. There are several field input types (Text, Number, Yes/No, etc.) that let you ask different kinds of questions as appropriate. You can also set up application fields that link directly to information fields elsewhere in Populi and conditional fields (and pages and other sections) that appear only when an applicant has entered a particular answer for a previous field.

You can change or update your application forms at any time. Keep in mind that changes made to application forms will not affect any applications that have already been started. Also, don't forget to check out the application settings, which determine how you'll be able to use a particular application.

Design basics

Adding and modifying sections

An application section is a heading, text block, field, or page. To add a new section, click one of the action links at the bottom. You can add new fields, text blocks, headings, pages, or import sections from another application.

  • Click to add a new section below another.
  • Click and drag to reorder the application's sections.
  • Click to edit the section; you can't change a field's type, but you can change everything else...
  • Click to delete a section. There's no undo!
  • As you design the application, click Preview Form to see what the application will look like to applicants.

Adding headings and text

Simple, really: click to add a heading or text block, enter your text, and save.

Adding fields

There are a few kinds of application fields:

  • Regular ol' fields let you collect nearly any kind of information you'd like from an applicant.
  • Linked fields let you collect information that feeds directly into various built-in and custom Populi fields; when you accept the applicant's response to one of these fields, it updates the corresponding field on her profile.
  • Conditional fields appear to the applicant depending on her answer to a previous field (you can also create conditional headings, text blocks, and pages).


Click Add field to create a new application field. Fill in the components and options and Save.

Fields include the following components and options:

  • Field name: A very brief summary or description of the information you seek to collect through this field (e.g. "Transcript", "Home address", "Work reference", etc.).
  • Field description: Instructions for completing the field, or a detailed explanation of the information you're seeking from the applicant.
  • Input type: The format of the information you're seeking from the applicant—text, yes/no, address, etc. See below for details about each of the different input types and how to use them. Important: Input type is not editable! When you choose the type for a field, you cannot change it later!
  • Office Use Only: These fields may only be filled out when processing the application; they may be visible to the applicant or you can keep them Hidden (see below). For example, you could have an Office Use Only field on the application that comments on why you approved or rejected a "Personal Essay" field; the applicant can then look at his application to see your feedback.
  • Hidden: The field will not be visible to applicants; rather, it is meant for your own internal use—Admissions users can fill in the field when processing the application.
  • Required: Applicants can't complete an application without submitting all of the required fields. If a field is not required, then it will be optional for the applicant to answer.

Input types

The different answer types let you collect information from the applicant in a variety of ways.

  • Text: You have two options:
    • Short answer: Creates a 255-character text-entry field that accepts letters, numbers, and punctuation.
    • Paragraph: Gives applicants a large text-entry area in which to compose or copy-paste a longer answer. If your school has integrated with a plagiarism-checking service, you will be able to run a check on applicant answers.
  • Multiple choice/Dropdown: Applicants must choose one option from a list; the difference between these two is the user interface.
  • Checkboxes: These fields let applicants choose one or more options from a list. For example, you could ask the applicant to check off three desired extracurricular activities from a list of eight. Enter how many answers the applicant may select (he can select up to this amount), and then enter as many option names as you need.
  • Yes/No: Gives applicants two options for an answer. I will let you guess what they are. If you really get stuck, feel free to email Populi support.
  • Put in order: Applicants put a jumbled list in order.
  • Likert: Lets applicants evaluate a number of individual items or statements on some sort of sliding scale. To set up this type of field:
    1. Select a number of labels(in the example, the options along the top).
    2. Enter the names of the labels (Good, Poor, etc.).
    3. Statements are the items you want your students to evaluate (the left column in the example). Enter as many statements as you like.
  • Date: Lets applicants enter a date using Populi's standard date/time field.
  • Number/Decimals: Number/decimal fields restrict the applicant's answer to a numerical value.
  • Country/State/Province: Applicants choose countries or state/provinces from a dropdown list.
  • File upload: Lets applicants upload a file (say, a photo or a document). You can also specify a maximum number of files the applicant can upload to this field. If your school has integrated with a plagiarism-checking service, you will be able to run a check on applicant documents.
  • Signature: Applicants can type or draw their signature in the field.
  • Online reference: Lets the applicant send any person a link to an online reference form.

Linked fields

Here's how to add a linked field to your application.

  1. Select Add a linked field from the Add Field options.
  2. Choose the field you'd like to ask for.
  3. Fill in the remaining field details and Save.

Here's how these fields work:

  1. The applicant's input options for these fields will be identical to that of the existing field. For example, if you link to an address field, the applicant will see a standard address-entry field.
  2. The applicant submits an answer for this field.
  3. When processing the application, after setting the field to Accepted, the applicant's answer will automatically transfer over to the linked field on his profile.

Conditional fields (and headings, text blocks, and pages, too)

Conditional fields remain hidden to the applicant unless he answers a previous field in a particular way.

  • Conditional fields can only be tied to fields with pre-set answer input options—Multiple Choice, Checkboxes, Dropdown, and Yes/No. If you don't have a field with one of those input types, you will not see the Conditional option when adding a new field.
  • Conditional fields can be regular or linked fields.
  • They're set up just like other fields except that you can create conditions that specify when they'll appear to applicants.
  • You can also create conditional headings, text blocks, and pages—for each, creating conditions works as described just below.

Here's how to add a conditional field:

  1. Add a new field—either a regular field or a linked one and fill in its details.
  2. Check next to Conditional; your options for conditions will open up.
  3. Choose whether to show the field when any or all of the conditions are met.
  4. Choose the field and answer option(s) that will summon the conditional field. You can add additional conditions to form a condition group, as well as additional condition groups.


Pages are handy for making longer applications easier to use and navigate. You can also make an entire page conditional.

  1. Click Add a page or click under an existing section and select Add a page break.
  2. Start adding sections to the page as you would any other part of the application form.
  3. Click to:
    • Edit the page: change the page's title and/or set it to Conditional.
    • Merge with previous page: Removes the page break and adds the page's sections to the previous page.
    • Delete page: Deletes the page AND all of its headings, text, and fields.

Importing form sections

Here's how to import sections from other applications.

  1. Click Import Form Sections above the application's Settings panel.
  2. Choose the form you'd like to import from.
  3. Choose whether to import:
    • All pages/sections—basically, cloning that application into this one<./li>
    • Selected pages/sections: Check next to the sections you'd like to import.
  4. Click Save when you're done.
  5. After importing form sections, you can leave them as-is or edit them to your heart's content.
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