Hello? Is it us you’re looking for?
In those infamous lyrics from Lionel Ritchie, the purpose of a website contact form is described; it adds the ability for your customers to complete a form and send you a message without requiring them to open their email program. If you’re running a business, this can be a useful feature for your website as it gives customers another option to contact you about your services or products.
Here we look at ways you can improve contact forms on your WordPress website to make them easier to use for your customers – and hopefully therefore increase the number of sales enquiries you might receive via your website.
1. Keep your contact form simple
As people, we only tend to have so much patience when completing forms, whether they’re on paper or online. Keeping your contact form as simple as possible should help more people successfully complete your contact form.
Here are a few guidelines to help keep contact forms simple:
- Do you need this information to process a proposal or quotation for the customer?
- Can this field be merged in to another, reducing the total number of fields being asked for?
- Have you already asked for this information in another format? If so, remove one!
- Do you have a way of contacting the person making the enquiry? Be sure to ask for an email address or telephone number.
Of course, data protection laws in the UK mean you need to have a clear reason to ask for – and collect – information, so think carefully about the information your contact form asks for.
2. Use the correct field type
Once upon a time, there were only limited types of field available. These days, there are a multitude of field types available to use which can help customers enter the information you need more quickly, and with fewer errors:
- URL (web address)
- Email address
- Number fields, which allow you to set a minimum and maximum value that can be entered
- and many more!
For older browsers that don’t support these new field types, don’t worry – they fall back and customers will see a normal text field. Dropdown fields can be an excellent way of preventing customer errors when filling in forms, giving them a preset choice of options to chose from.
The benefits of using the correct field type are increased validation – modern browsers on computers, tablets and mobile phones – meaning the information customers are sending you is more likely to be correctly formatted. For things like email addresses, this can help prevent customers accidentally giving you a wrongly spelt email address. Handy!
3. Test your contact form
Finally, testing your contact form once it’s ready – and then on a regular basis – is a useful bit of website housekeeping for your website. The best way to test your contact form is to try and break it! That means entering the wrong information and experiencing what your customers might face when trying to complete a contact form.
- Do the error messages make sense to you? Will they help a customer to work out what they did wrong so they can fix it and complete the form?
- Does the email you receive from the contact form make sense? Does it have all of the information you ask for in it?
- Do messages sent through the contact form have a back-up? Do you check this regularly. For example, if you’re using the Contact Form 7 plugin for WordPress, you may want to add the Flamingo plugin, which stores a copy of every message submitted through the website. This is really helpful if you have issues with your email, or the form malfunctions and doesn’t send the email to you.
- Have you tried the contact form on your mobile phone? Completing a contact form on your laptop or desktop computer is one thing, but have you tried completing it on your mobile phone? Customers using their mobile phones to browse your website (which can be over 50% of visitors to websites in our experience) may struggle to fill your form in, as they have smaller screens to see your form with, and smaller keyboards, leaving room for more errors. Using the correct field types (see above) can help here