Contact form – not an afterthought
Have you ever visited a website and wanted to make an inquiry or get more information? Did the website have a contact form? Did you use it? Did you get a response back if you did?
Unfortunately, contact forms are often tossed into a website design almost as an afterthought. Sadly, what gets missed is the opportunity to design a form that actually invites people to engage with you via your website. Granted, most of the energy that goes into website design should be focused on the home page, then the subpages. But after putting so much effort into using smart web design to inspire interest in your business, why let it fizzle on a lackluster, ineffective, or nonfunctioning contact form?
Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who prefer not to pick up a phone and call. We are in a generation where texting and social media messaging are becoming the primary initial means of communication. Depending on the type of business you are and your clientele, you may be dealing with a generation that has grown up texting or messaging more so than any other form of communication – including verbal! With this being the case, it becomes crucial that your website includes a way that invites visitors to reach out to you as an alternative to a phone call.
Contact forms LEAD the conversation
If you think about it, when you include a well-designed and engaging contact form on your website, you are leading a conversation. You are asking the questions. You are controlling the kind of information that is shared. You simply do not want to squander away the opportunity to establish how people connect with your business in this way. A poorly designed or non-functioning contact form will do just that – waste a chance for people to connect with you on your terms.
Tragically, many contact forms built in websites mostly consist of asking:
It isn’t that a simplistic form can’t be effective – it can. However, it falls on the person filling out the form to know exactly how to articulate useful, relevant information in that general “Message” box on simple forms.
Better questions that steer how people connect with you give both you and them a better idea of where in the interest lies. Expanding on the basics of the oversimplified form above, the following would be much more effective.
Say your business is a home cleaning business. We would want to design a form that may ask things like:
• Best contact phone
• Email you check regularly
• Are you commercial or residential
• Frequency of cleaning – weekly, bi-weekly, monthly
• What is your budget?
• Anything we missed?
Asking pointed questions such as the ones above will do a better job of leading a potential client to give more detailed information to you. With this kind of information, the business is able to do much more effectively and efficiently respond to the inquiry.
Contact forms reduce Spam
One of the things we strongly advise our clients is to never put an email address on a website. The reason is simple. There are thousands of spammers who troll websites looking for easy access to contacts they can send their junk mail to.
In many cases, non-human methods, or “bots” are used to connect with websites to locate contact information for spam. In some cases, this can even include a contact form, but there are methods that can be used to prevent this. An email address that is in simple plain sight will most certainly result in your email getting clogged with junk. Additionally, much of the junk mail can be attempts at phishing or contain links that if clicked on, will lead you to websites that will attempt to upload malware to your devices.
Contact forms insulate you from this bothersome type of activity while still allowing legitimate messages through. A contact form’s email delivery address is concealed from spammers. This doesn’t mean spammers can’t simply fill out your contact form – they often will. However, a contact form that requires an actual person to provide relevant, detailed information such as the example we used above for the cleaning company, can often be a deterrent to spammers.
A method called “Captcha” can also be included in your contact forms that require an actual person to answer moderately complex logic questions satisfactorily before being able to complete a form submission. This eliminates automated bots from using your contact form to spam you.
Lastly, activating a setting on your contact form to require each space of your form to be filled out will also greatly reduce spam while allowing legitimate inquiries to get through to you.
Contact forms are very important parts of your website. When designed properly, they can be effective vehicles to connect you with potential clients or customers. We believe contact forms are so important, we go beyond building these forms in the native content management system. We utilized JotForm™ integration for each of our clients to ensure these important messages reach the inbox of our clients. We believe it is simply worth the time and effort to provide this level of performance for something so important and communications that grow a business or organization.