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Setting Up Forms On Your Website

There used to be a time when businesses and people listed their email address upfront on their websites to make it easy for others to contact them. However, as spam on the internet grew by leaps and bounds this became problematic as spammers harvested these emails to send out spam. Today the best approach is to have a form on your website that allows a person to fill in the needed details and the server then sends out an email to the site administrator letting them know that someone wants to contact them. This has the added advantage to the admin of making sure that some other basic info (like website or phone number or other notes) are also provided by the person who initiates the contact.

Here are some great tips for a website owner to consider when setting up contact form on their website:

  • Setup Notifications:
    A notification is basically the email/message sent out once the form is submitted. The admin definitely needs a notification. At times it may be a good idea to also have the person who filled the form get a notification email. This can be a great idea where you want the person to have a record of what they filled in.
  • Confirmation Message/Page:
    Almost all form plugins allow to either show a message after the form is submitted or redirect to a page. It is a great idea to actually redirect the user to a page after the form is filled. This way you can make sure that you can track the visitors to that page in your tracking software and know how many people filled in the form. Also on the confirmation page you can provide any additional info that you want the user to get.
    NOTE: Make sure that the thank you page you set is then adjusted to be hidden from search engines. You don’t want people to search your website and find out about that page without filling out the desired info.
  • Ensure correct sender settings:
    Make sure that the form is setup correctly so that when you get an email then it is clear who sent it to you. Ideally it should be setup so that you can just hit reply and send an email back. But at times hosts may not allow that – so test it out to see what works for you (or rather your hosting)

The best way to setup a form on your website is to use one of the many great form plugins available in the WordPress repository. Among these the more popular ones(with a free version) are listed below:

  1. Contact Form 7: The most popular free form plugin out there. The interface is not too great though so it can be difficult for a newbie to setup a big form.
  2. WP Forms: A great form that also has a paid version to allow more extended usage.
  3. Ninja Forms: Another great form plugin with a pro version too.
  4. Caldera Forms: A very flexible form plugin – again comes with a free and a pro version.

So next time you need to setup a form on your WordPress website then be sure to try out one of these forms. Not only will these save you time but will also provide a more streamlined experience for those who want to contact you. If you need to build forms that need to use conditional logic or are more complicated than usual then you can also contact us. We provide extremely cost effective solutions to most WordPress development needs.

Contact forms and spam

One of the big issues on having a contact form on your website is the spam it attracts. Once your site gets listed on the radar for these spammers then there is simply no end to the endless stream of spam that will show up in your mailbox. There are 2 main ways to handle this:
1. Use a captcha/formula
These are the funny looking characters/numbers that are randomly generated so that bots cannot go through them. Equally irritating is the fact that humans too may have a tough time getting through these! A variation of these captcha is the formula based captcha where a basic algebraic equation is presented and the user is requested to compute the missing value.

2. Honeypot captcha
This relies on the weakness in spambots to just fill in fields that seem to be marked as mandatory but which are actually just a bait to know that the submission is coming from a bot. A human user would never see (or if using a text browser clearly see that the label for the field shows that it is for spammers only) this field and the system would be able to filter out if the submission is valid or not. This clearly seems to be a better solution and can be applied to both contact forms and comment forms in WordPress.

Choose any of the anti-spam methods that seems to work well for your situation – but do ensure that you have at least some mechanism in place.