5 steps for creating a better contact form
If you ask us, there is only one universal truth: people hate filling out forms. Whether you’re applying for a passport, filing an insurance claim, or trying to decipher the difference between a 1040, 1040-A, Schedule B, C and D, we can all agree that forms are the worst. Most designers don’t even like making them!
Despite their no-fun reputation and our collective disdain, forms are a necessary component of most sites — and, in the case of the contact page, an essential mode of communication between you and your user. On that note, here are five steps for a better contact form that’s less painful, more effective, and, dare we say it, maybe even a little fun.
Understand your visitors
Consider for a moment why people are on your contact page. If you’re a brick-and-mortar shop that sees a lot of local traffic, most visitors are probably looking for your business hours, address and telephone number. But if you’re a web-based business serving clients around the world, giving people a space to tell you about their project is far more important than a dot on a map. Think about what people want — then give it to them before they have a chance to ask for it.
Add a little something extra
Take a look at any basic contact page and you’ll find some version of the following: a generic invitation to Get In Touch, a simple enquiry form, and, if you’re lucky, a phone number and email address. While there’s certainly something to be said for simplicity, adding a few extra features like a map, hours of operation and FAQ page can go a long way towards anticipating user needs and save you the tedium of fielding the same questions over and over again.
Break from convention
The best contact forms are eye-catching, engaging and personal. Don’t shy away from bold colours and typography, and for the love of CAPTCHA, if you want to prompt visitors to action, come up with something more creative than “Complete the form below with your questions and feedback.” Most people know what a a contact form is and how to use one, so use yours as an opportunity to reinforce your brand and start a conversation with your users.
Pick your plugin
There are no less than 1,625 contact form plugins available in the WordPress directory, and many of the best ones are free to use. Features vary considerably across plugins, from simple forms to complex, multi-field questionnaires that use conditional logic to tailor the requested information.
Take matters into your own hands
While there’s no shortage of great contact form plugins, there’s also no shortage of reasons to build your own from scratch. Why weigh down your site with plugins that pack way more than you need, when a tidy bit of code will do? Check out this tutorial and you’ll be coding your way to a clean, customized contact form in no time.