Some contact forms can be confusing and frustrating for many people - which can lead to lost online sales.
1. Minimize cognitive load
Wow, quite a technical term huh?
People don't like to think too much - use radio buttons, check boxes and multiple choice selections where possible - but not to the point of overkill and bearing in mind the next point. Also ensure field labels/questions are clear - avoid jargon and high fallutin' terms such as "minimize cognitive load" :). I could have used a much simpler heading for this point; such as "keep it simple".[_borders/ad_web_revenue.htm]
2. Sufficient request type options.
While helpful to users and useful in categorizing the type of request in order to prioritize and also for data mining at a later date; many dropdown boxes and other multiple choice features on forms don't present sufficient options. At the very least, "other" or "not sure" should be an option for those people who may be confused with other choices, or to whom the other choices do not apply.
3. CAPTCHA readability.
CAPTCHA is a great way to cut down on spam submissions, but some implementations use image distortions that are very hard to read, particularly for the vision impaired. Try to ensure the image set you use is easily discernable some distance from the monitor, or that you include audio options whereby a series of numbers is read out to the user.
4. Use (and test) thank you pages.
This is quite a common occurrence - the person submits their details and is then presented with an error page, a blank page or back to the contact page. They really don't have any reassurance that their message has been submitted.
A proper thank you page should be used and the form should be tested from time to time to ensure that it is displayed. The thank you page should also give some sort of indication when they'll likely be to hear back from you. Hint: 5 business days doesn't cut it :).
5. Minimize compulsory fields
If a person is making a pre-sales inquiry, is it really necessary for them to enter their address if an email reply will suffice? I've seen some contact forms with so many compulsory fields, I've questioned what the company may do with the information and haven't bothered to proceed.
6. Provide formatting tips
If you have fields with validation rules, on the form give users tips as to how to complete the field. For example
7. Correct validation rules
Where you do have compulsory fields, ensure the validation rules are flexible enough. For example, many USA merchants have phone number validation rules that aren't compatible with international phone number formats.
8. Relevant validation alerts
When using validation rules, ensure the alert to the user contains enough information for the person to understand what may be wrong; instead of just a generic alert stating that the input was incorrect.
9. Validation timing
There is nothing more frustrating for someone to have spent substantial time in completing a form, submitting it, getting a validation error, being returned to the form or clicking back and all the data they've entered is gone. This issue is most common with server side validation that's been poorly implemented in the form processing script.
10. Tab order
Many people use the tab key to move from field to field - check your forms to see if tabbing follows the form sequence.
11. Easy accessibility
Contact form access should be a single click away from any page and preferably not buried in a drop-down menu structure. If it is
necessary to place the link in a dropdown menu, ensure that the menu group is labeled with standard text, such as "About" or "Company".
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