Top 10 errors you should avoid when creating a contact form
For a great number of websites contact forms are an invaluable source of feedback, sales, offers etc. Some sites even rely solely on them. However I see too many forms which are not bringing as many conversions as the owners would want them to, here in this article I will try to rectify that by pointing out the 10 most common mistakes you should absolutely not make when creating a contact form:
1) Contact form is too long
This is the number one reason why people are refusing to fill-out contact forms. Simply put, it takes too much of user's valuable time, too much effort and let's be honest - it is way too frustrating to fill-out such forms, especially when they have many required fields along the way. We understand that you want to get as much information from your users as possible, but doing it that way, ultimately you won't get a message at all.
2) Requesting too much effort from an user
Generally you absolutely should ask the user for the necessary information you want, however don't overdo it! You need to remember that the main goal of contact form is to get a message from user, you can always ask him for details later. For example forcing users to fill out a required date of a trip when they just want to ask some questions about it, will make you lose conversions.
3) Forgetting about mobile devices
In this times you just have to take mobile users into account. Your form needs to responsive so smartphone and tablet users can easily fill-it out. You also should avoid very long select lists - they are fairly easy to use on desktop but for smartphones they can be really frustrating. Also it is a very good practice to make your form fields adjusted for mobile, for example phone field should automatically enable phone keyboard for a user.
4) Asking for sensitive data
Many users aren't ready to easily give up their phone numbers, full name or address to strangers in fear, that their personal data may be then sold to companies which would pester them with annoying offers. It has been proven that forms without a required phone field have a much better conversion rate.
5) Unclear labels
Even if everything is clear to you, it sometimes won't be for users, so make sure that you at least include tooltips for less obvious fields. For example not everyone will know that DOB abbreviation stands for Date Of Birth, sometimes you will need to clarify things for users so they can fill-out your form correctly.
We all know that validation is important to get the right data from your form. However what you should really take into consideration is that sometimes no validation is better than an overly complicated one. A validation, especially of a required field could irritate the user when he cannot pass it, thus forcing him to stop filling-out the form. Although if you still want to use it, you need to put some thought to it. For example we usually do not want to allow alphabetic characters when user is filling out a telephone number. However when creating a validation for a form field a we need to take into consideration all variants on how the user could fill it - getting back to the phone example: some number will look like this: +123456789 or (123) 456 789 or 123-456-789. A good idea is to put the required format into label or in a tooltip.
7) Using Captcha
While it is quite an effective way to avoid spam bots filling out your contact form, unfortunately it also greatly decreases the form conversion rate - it simply requires too much effort from an user, especially if he won't be able to decipher it. Please check out our other article on How to make your contact form spam-free without using Captcha? for details.
8) Lack of call to action
Little things like a wrong text on a button can discourage some users from sending a message through a form. For example "submit" is quite a bad word to use on your contact form. No one wants to submit or yield to a piece of code. A much better words to use are simply "Send", "Click here", "Go" or "Get Quote" which implies a call to action prompting an user to send a form.
9) "Clear" / "Reset" button
"Clear" or "Reset" buttons are a really useless buttons, ask yourself honestly - have you ever used it? Typically the user will fill out the form once and even if in some extremely rare cases he will want to do it again, he will simply refresh the page or the form will be automatically reset after sending. Sometimes users will want to send out the form and will misclick on the "Clear" / "Reset" button causing their whole effort to go to waste, many of them will not want to fill out the form again.
10) Is it working?
Does the form sends emails correctly? Does it send to your correct address? Are messages flagged as spam? Can you send a message from mobile device? These are a rather obvious but nonetheless important questions you need to ask yourself.
If you adhere to the above suggestions, your form's conversion rate will increase, which can only lead to really improving your site's value. Contact form is often a main channel of leads generation and a vital point of most websites, so it's worth an additional effort to make the most of it.