WordPress is great because it’s free open source software, and there are thousands of free plugins you can use to extend the functionality. But ever now and then a premium paid plugin comes along that is not only worth the money – but that you just can’t do without. At the top of our “must have” list of paid plugins Gravity forms probably has to be #1. We use it on every single website, and we use it for all contact forms we create. It has so many uses, in fact, that sometimes we forget about utilizing them all.
Years ago we wrote a blog post about the fact that “every website needs a contact form”. At this point if you have a business website, and you don’t have a contact form – you have some serious problems. You not only need a contact form, you need a facebook account, twitter, LinkedIn profile, a YouTube channel, and on and on and on.
Will Your Contact Form Be Used?
There’s a lot of design and psychology that goes into a usable contact form. You don’t want to have just a name, email, and comments box – it doesn’t look very professional. You also don’t want a form with so many fields that it puts people off from even filling it out.
The best contact forms have just the right amount of fields. Ask the user for a name, and best method to contact. Then give them several optional boxes that coincide for email, phone, and best time to contact. Give them a dropdown with some choices about which they could be inquiring, and last a box for explanation. If appropriate you might want an upload field to attach something (making it easier for them).
What Happens When They Submit the Form?
This is the part that most website owners take for granted. You probably assume all contact forms work the same way. The user submits the form – you get email, and then get some type of “thank you” message once they click the button.
The first problem that comes to mind is – sometimes (depending on the website and theme) the “thank you” confirmation text shows up on part of the webpage outside of the view of the user (top or bottom). They have to scroll up or down to see it, and sometimes don’t even know if the form worked or not. How confusing!
The second problem (with some contact forms) is, how do you know the email was even sent (or received)? What if it’s lost? With Gravity Forms, all forms that are submitted are automatically saved in the database. So if you ever need to review all submissions (at a later date) you can easily to that.
Beyond that, once a form is submitted, you have fine grained control over what happens for the user once they click that “submit” button.
Create a new form in gravity forms, and then edit that form. Find the first field and click “edit” to the right to get the properties of that form like this:
Then switch from the “properties” to the “confirmation” tab and you get 3 options. You can show the user a text message on submit, you can show them a specific page within your website, or you can redirect them to another URL (website).
Most contact form plugins show a default text message (and that’s it). A good best practice for a business website is to create a genuine “thank you” confirmation page with options relevant to the user at that specific time.
- Can they call you?
- Can they email specific people?
- Is there a support forum?
- Can you provide them with a image, file, or document?
- Should they see a map?
- Do they need directions?
Think about the user at the time they submit, and what they might be looking for at that exact moment. Provide them with as much information as they might need on submit, so they can be assured that you’re interested in helping them as soon as possible with whatever they might need. You’d be surprised how much more professional your website can appear with simple confirmation page for your contact forms.
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