For many websites, it would be considered a win if they users goes to the contact page and fills out the contact form. Contact forms are a great way to provide an easy an non-intimidating way for users to get in touch with us. There are, however, two main problems with contact forms that we run into quite a bit.
The first problem that we see a lot is that the forms are simply too long. Yes, at the end of the day you may need to know 15 questions about your clients to be able to help them, but the contact form isn’t the time or place to gather that info necessarily. As I’ve said many times before, you really do need to KIS your contact forms and Keep It Simple. Once the users fills out the form we can reach back out and dive into a deeper conversation with them. We’ve even got a few clients who will have a user start with the simple contact form that they can quickly review to determine if they can work with the user. They then direct that user to a more in depth contact form that will get them more info they need to fully help the user. By doing that, we can ease the user through the process and not hit them with what feels like a million questions right away.
Another problem we see a lot isn’t on the front end of the website so much, but is a complaint we hear from site owners quite a bit. They tend to get hit with a lot of spam through their site. It’s a common form for spammers to target. Thankfully, it’s really easy to prevent a large number of those spammers from having a field day with our forms. Simply install Recaptcha. Again looking at WordPress and two of the most common contact form plugins, Formidable and Contact Form 7, they make it really easy to add in a recaptcha field. All you need to do to use Recaptcha is get a set of configuration keys from Google (don’t worry, they’re free) and enable them in your plugin settings. The Recaptcha will show up usually as a checkbox that users will have to click in order to submit the form. If you enable Recaptcha and still get a lot of spam, you can switch to the somewhat more annoying version that shows users 9 photos and they need to select the ones that all fit a given criteria (such as selecting all the photos that have cars in them). This version of Recaptcha is a bit more cumbersome for users, especially on mobile device, but does help cut down on spam even further.
As a side note – if you’re using WordPress and install many of the leading contact form plugins, don’t just use their out-of-the-box contact form. Take the time to at least remove the “Subject” question from the form. Most users are not going to have a good idea what that is suppose to mean and you can fill in the subject line on your own in the admin section of WordPress. Odds are you’ll complicate users or add in a question that at minimum doesn’t need to be there.
Contact forms are a great tool to use on your website. They just need a little bit of configuration to keep all the pesky and annoying spam away. They can also be put together in a way to make it a quick and easy way for clients to get in touch with us – and that’s always a win at the end of the day.