December 2020 – Rick Szilagyi, Principal
We do not claim to have a world class website. After reviewing options to replace our “antique” site which was written in ColdFusion (CFML), it would have been very expensive to have updated to be a responsive site. And, pricing having someone create one for us in something like WordPress, well, we decided to build it ourselves. We also decided to go with non-traditional graphics, and shied away from pictures of people meeting, a person on a phone, etc. And I am sure some visitors to the site wonder what we are thinking. But, that’s a different adventure.
We included on our site, a contact form. That seemed like a common thing to do, and we utilized a WP Forms plug-in, which worked fine. For a while. Late one Friday afternoon, after launching our monthly e-newsletter, I received an email which pointed out that we had not responded to a request for follow-up, weeks earlier. I won’t forget it. We pride ourselves on responsiveness, and professionalism, and here we had dropped the ball entirely. On a potential new client. Dagger to my heart. This triggered a project.
First, was this particular notice in my in box and I overlooked it? No. Did it get grabbed in a local or ISP-level spam filter? No. And these answers triggered more. In general, what is going on with our online form? Where are notices going? Why are they not ending up in my email in box as they did in the past? This led to Carly interacting with the manufacturer of the form… which led to her investigating other manufacturers. She tried this and she tried that as they made suggestions to try to get THEIR form to work. And, one day recently, I decided to google a bit. Turns out that contact forms are a frequent source of issues. And my googling caused more articles to appear, including articles exploring the pros and the cons of forms and the alternatives.
According to some articles, including of course, those written by companies that provide forms, include things like: look professional; keep your team in the loop; safeguard your inbox; make things easy for your visitors; stay organized; and build your email list. Remember… the above is according to form providers.
According to many articles, here are the cons: too impersonal; not trusted as safe by some; people reaching out via a contact form, do not have a history of sending; and oh yeah, contact forms are problematic.
So, in re-visiting the whole issue for us in failing to receive a contact through a contact form, I realized that the problem wasn’t the form. The problem was that we missed receiving an email from someone. And from someone who was a potential new client, therefore it could be that we had our chance and that was it. Current clients know we are responsive. In the end, I decided that I too find contact forms impersonal. And, apparently, contact forms are problematic, while plain old email, works. So, after lots of reading, lots of time spent by Carly trying to fix the old form, and trying a new one, we are going with asking visitors to just send us an email, by clicking on an email address. Below are some of the related articles encountered during our contact form adventure.