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Phone numbers on forms

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Sunday February 24, 2008 )

I’ve been visiting dozens of sites today belonging to web development companies and have been surprised at the number of them that require a phone number to be entered on a contact form.

Around 10% of the sites I visited had a compulsory phone number field – I’ve never struck such a high percentage in ecommerce related industries. It’s my opinion that these companies are missing out on business by doing so – or perhaps they are so overloaded with work, they don’t need extra :).

Phone numbers are a little different to email addresses – it’s a little more insistent and intrusive method of contact and as such people can be hesitant in supplying those details. Many small business owners don’t like to be disturbed by non-customer or non-current supplier calls during business hours; they are busy trying to make money. A call from you could be stopping a call from a potential or paying client coming through. Also, with time zones being so different, there can be concerns that you’ll call late in the evening or early in the morning. I’ve been pulled out of bed at 3am by such calls. Needless to say, I’m not particularly receptive at that hour.

Email is a less instrusive method of contact; it not only allows you to pose questions more thoughtfully, but also for the other person to consider the information you provide at a time that’s best suited to them.

By all means, put a phone number field on your contact forms, but unless you have a really good reason, make it an optional field – I’m pretty sure you’ll find you end up with more inquiries.

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