What is the Contact Form?
Contact Form – A section on a website with fillable fields that visitors use to contact the website owner. Most commonly used to collect names, phone numbers, and email addresses of potential customers. Contact forms are fast becoming a preferred method for reaching out to a business.
The contact form can be used for just about anything you can think of but here are a few examples of reasons to use a contact form:
- Feedback: This is a contact form that is used for general comments from your visitors
- Questions: This form allows visitors to contact you with various questions they may have relating to your business
- Service/ Information Request: If your business sells a service or product your customers can use this to inquire for more information.
Some of the major benefits of using a contact form:
- Reduce Spam: since contact forms are handled server-side and your email address is not readily available spammers cannot harvest it as easily and this is much safer than using the mailto: tag
- Information control: Since you specify the information, you’d like from the customer you can capture the exact information you want from them
- Consistency: Since all the information is provided to you the same way, the emails from the contact form are consistent and can help you stay organized. See more information on email filters
How it works
When a visitor goes to your contact page on your website, they will need to fill out the form. Once they have filled out the form fields, they will click the button to submit. Once submitted, the information in the fields will automatically be sent via email to you. On the server-side, once the submit button is clicked, typically a Perl script or PHP file runs. This reads the request and sends it to your email address. Don’t worry if you do not have an in-depth understanding of PHP or Perl.
When you receive the email, all the questions your visitor filled in will be in the email. Each time you receive an email it will be in the same format. This simplifies reading the email and even organizing them. since every email will have the same subject line, you can sort the emails to filter into their own folder in your email account.
After the form is processed by the server, you then can control where the visitor is re-directed to. You can have them return to the contact page or even be redirected to a custom thank you page. Typically, you will want to redirect them to a different page where you can acknowledge you have received their request and will contact them shortly. Setting up a contact form takes longer than a simple mailto tag however the benefits we mentioned in the previous tutorial make it worth the extra time and effort.
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