The New Contact Form Element (+ 4 Tips to Make Your Contact Forms Not Suck)
As WordPress users, we all have many things in common. We want to build our own website and we believe that self-hosting is better than being shackled to an expensive subscription plan. We spend way too much time checking out new themes and plugins. And at one point, we've all installed Contact Form 7 and were frustrated to learn that unless we get into the CSS code, yes, it really does look that ugly.
We've added a new element to the Thrive Architect plugin, which will help you out with that last problem.
Check out today's update to learn about our new contact form element and discover the 4 rules for creating the optimal contact form.
The New Element
The contact form is a new element available right now, in Thrive Architect. All you need to do is update the plugin to the latest version.
When you drop the element anywhere inside your content or on a landing page, a basic contact form will be created immediately, with a name, email and message field.
Using the settings in the sidebar, you can add, remove and customize the fields in the form (1). You can also determine what email address messages will be sent to and what visitors will see after they submit the form (2).
Every part of the contact form can be edited and styled to your heart's content - all using the instantly updating design features you're used to from Thrive Architect.
But you don't have to spend any time on the form design if you don't want to, because we've done all the work for you already. You can click on the "change template" button in the Template options, where you'll find dozens of pre-designed forms, ready for your to use.
We've created many designs that match our landing page sets. For example:
Contact form template for the Flat 2.0 landing page set.
Contact form template for the health food store landing page.
Contact form template for the construction company landing page.
4 Tips for the Optimal Contact Form
Here at Thrive Themes, we like to do more than just provide you with new and exciting features for your website. We also want to show you how to best use those new features.
With that in mind, here are 4 tips for improving the usability of your contact form:
Tip #1: Optimize Your Field Labels & Placeholders
Each field in the contact form comes with a label and a placeholder by default (you can edit or remove both, if you wish).
The label is descriptive and remains visible as the user fills out the form. The placeholder serves as an example ("enter this kind of thing in this field") and disappears as soon as the visitor starts typing.
Together, these two elements make the purpose of each field unmistakably clear. If that seems excessive to you for something as simple as a name field, keep in mind that the leading principle for webdesign is: don't make me think!
In special cases, there are 2 more considerations for placeholders:
- Use it to add humor and personality related to your website's theme. For example "Indiana Jones" as the "Full Name" placeholder on a site for movie buffs.
- Use it to nudge your visitors in a desired direction. For example, use "firstname.lastname@example.org" as the email placeholder if you want people's business address rather than their personal inbox.
Tip #2: Don't Ask for Information You Don't Need
In the contact form element, we've made many fields available for you, that you can add and arrange in your form, in any way you wish:
It's great to have many options, but use them wisely: in general, the more form fields a visitor encounters, the less likely they are to fill them all out.
The simple rule here is to not ask for any information you don't need. Don't add more fields "just in case". I recommend that you have a clear process in place for what to do with messages that people send you and you only ask for information that you need in that process.
Also make use of the fact that for each field, you can set it to be required or optional. If you want to respond by phone, but you don't absolutely need to, try making the phone field optional (and marking it as such). It could increase the conversion rate on the form significantly.
Tip #3: Don't Leave Your Visitors Hanging
Maybe you've experienced this yourself: you compose a long message in a contact form, click on the "send" button and then... nothing.
There's no confirmation message, no error message, no indication that anything happened at all. The form just clears and you're not sure whether anyone will ever receive your carefully crafted message or if it was just deleted, never to be seen again.
That's really unpleasant - but easy to fix!
When you set up your form, click on the "Email & After Submit Setup" link:
Here, you can determine what happens after a visitor sends a message. There are two ways in which you can clearly communicate to your visitor that A) their message was sent successfully and B) what will happen next.
- Redirect visitors to a landing page that shows a success message and sets expectations for what will happen next. This is also a great opportunity for some personal branding, by adding a video message to this page.
- Show a success notification. This notification shows right after the message is sent, without a page reload.
Tip #4: Don't Confuse Lead Generation Forms with Contact Forms
Generating leads is an important process for most online businesses. And we're all about helping you do that with the many features in the Thrive Leads plugin.
When someone signs up through a lead generation form, there should be a clear expectation about what happens next. As in: you'll be added to our mailing list and we'll send you news, information, coupon codes or whatever else you've got going on in your email marketing.
When someone sends a message through a contact form, the expectation is different. They expect to have a question answered. They expect to get a personalized reply, get help from an expert or have a follow-up phone conversation.
Unlike lead generation forms, our contact form does not connect to any email marketing services. That's because you shouldn't use this form for lead generation. In other words: don't shove people into an automated marketing funnel because they sent you a question.
The contact form can be the first step in a business relationship, but that needs to be established in the communication that happens after someone sends a message.
As with all forms, set clear expectations. If someone's going to get a sales call, tell them about it. It's also a good idea to add a line or two before or after your form, to set these expectations. Even if it's just: "this won't be used for marketing purposes".
If you want to know how to build killer contact pages with our newly announced contact forms, read these best practices along with some good and bad examples.
Over to You
What do you think of the new contact form feature? Do you have other questions about how to set up contact forms and how to use them in your business? Let us know by leaving a comment!
P.S.: Contact Form 7, we still love you. Ugly forms are better than no forms, after all. ;)