Oh the contact page. So boring, so obligatory. And not as simple as it may seem. I was hoping to jazz up the contact page at BuildCarbonNeutral.org with some sort of slick Ajax contact form. You see, I built the site in a really big hurry could spare not time for extras like protecting raw email addresses. By the way, email address protection is not an extra, usually! It’s something I meant to rectify as soon as possible and sure enough, our general contact alias is already receiving spam. I thought I might take the email address off completely and post a contact form instead.
The Problem with Contact Forms
Even the best form is an obstacle. Users don’t like filling out forms and what’s more, you introduce an opportunity for error. Everyone commits a typo now and again, and what if someone sends you information you’d really like to follow up on but lo and behold, their email address bounces. Even if you add the extra email confirmation input (make the user enter it twice), there’s still the case of people using an incorrect email address just to harass you. But really it all comes down to user experience. Don’t make your user fill out a form if they don’t have to.
The Simple and Sincere Mailto Link
So it’s back to the good ‘ol mailto link for me. The added benefit is people can save the email address in their contact list of choice and can format the email and send attachments if they choose. An email link is more personal, less corporate. Of course you all know that any email address present in the code of a public website is crawlable by spambots. Therefore be sure to put measures in place to protect all email addresses!
There’s Always an Exception
Sometimes you really should use a form. A common use for them is on high-traffic sites where they actually want to make it a little harder for users to get in contact. This approach is especially prevalent on sites that offer a product or service that results in a lot of support email and they want to encourage users to troubleshoot their own problem using existing documentation (FAQs, support forums, etc) before contacting the company/authors directly. Some sites don’t provide contact info at all for this reason. Chances are though, if your site is for a small business or is personal, you want to make it easier for people to contact you.