Why a Contact Form?
Why use a contact form? Why look at contact form plugins? Why not just post your email address on your site? The answer is easy: spammers. Spammers can easily collect your email address and send you tons of junk. Spammers can also target your forms, but the more questions you ask, the less likely you have these issues.
Update to post: in addition to warding off spammers, contact forms give businesses and organizations the added capability of retrieving more information so the questions can be more quickly answered. For example, one can ask the nature of the question in a dropdown or get a phone number to respond. This is specific to one’s needs as a business or organization.
In order to ward off spammers, you can use Captcha or ask math questions on a form (see example below of math on a Contact Form 7 form):
Do you see where it asks how much is 2+1? I think most people can handle that question.
Review of Three Contact Forms
There are many contact forms for WordPress. Some come and and go; others have been around for a while. The three I present are plugins I have used.
Contact Form 7 – easy to create one page. May not be so easy to edit, as you have to write in their format with their coding style. You will also see it may not have a feature you want, such as option to send a copy. I have been using this plugin for years without any issues.
Contact Form by BestWebSoft – I have only used this contact form plugin on one site thus far. It has good features like option to “send me a copy” in a checkbox. It was easier to set up the additional fields than it is with Contact Form 7. I used it on a client’s site because they were using it already, and it included that “send me a copy” checkbox.
Gravity Forms – costs, but you can do quite a bit. For example, you can have order forms that do calculations or conditional fields. Two of my clients with several complicated forms on their sites do use Gravity Forms. They have to pay to renew it each year, but they find it easy to update it themselves. With Gravity Forms, you can store the information in your database or export the information to a CSV file (comma-separated file), which can be opened in a spreadsheet. You can also produce multi-page forms with Gravity Forms.
You can find each of these and more in the WordPress plugin directory. Look at them there before installing; you can read the reviews and find out when each one was updated. Any plugin that hasn’t been updated in the past year should be avoided, if possible. Maybe by the time you are reading this post one of these plugins is no longer being updated regularly!
Besides Contact Form: What Else?
What else should you put besides the contact form itself on the contact page? Obvious options are phone, address and/or fax. Maybe not so obvious: add your social media links in an attractive manner. Here is example of a social media box on my contact page:
Another option for local brick and mortar businesses is embed Google Maps. To embed a Google map, go to http://maps.google.com/ and type in the address of the business. You now have to go to the bottom right corner of the browser page, pick that little gear, and up will pop a label like this:
Click Share and embed map. Then click Embed map. The default seems to be the medium size; I found the small size worked well (and didn’t take up too much space). Highlight all the code starting from <iframe and paste it into your page (if using WordPress, make sure you paste in Text, not in Visual).
Your Turn, Please
Have you used any contact form plugins for your WordPress site? What do you put on your contact page? What might you add that you don’t have already? Have you seen any unique or helpful contact pages?