Advice on Contact Form

How exactly should I let visitors and members of my website contact me?

1.) E-mail?

2.) Web Form?

3.) Web Form that E-mails me?

4.) Via a PM to my Admin Profile (similar to how you would do it on SitePoint)

I am probably making this way too diifcult, but I have no clue of where to begin!

Web form that e-mails you is the most common. Look up PHP email scripts and go to town. Come back if you have questions. If you don’t use PHP, then search for the related language email scripts.

Why is that approach better than the others I listed above?

  1. Email? You mean open up their gmail account and e-mail you? That’s a pain
  2. I don’t know how web form is different than #3
  3. There’s no difference between this and using the web form to e-mail. I check my e-mail far more often than anything else.


Opt #2 means you fill out a web form, hit “send” and it writes it to MySQL, and then I’d have some Admin web form where I could see what people sent. No e-mail involved.

Sure there is. Opt 4 would be like everyone PM’ing me if they had a comment or question. Of course as I type, I guess that would only work for registered users, so maybe that answers that question…

The “Contact Form” I am trying to build would be for anyone who visits my website.

Then again, should I have two ways for people to contact me?

Maybe I let visitors use the Form-to-Email approach, and if you are a registered member, then you can send me a PM to my Admin account - sort of like how you might contact an Admin on SP.


What benefit would that give users at all? Why two ways? Both would get answered equally fast. I mean I guess the benefit is you KNOW who is sending the e-mail…not worth it for me.

Edit-If you mean you can only contact you IF you are logged in, then maybe that would be alright but I’d hate to have to register just to do an e-mail.

Not sure I understand your question.

Here is where I am coming from…

Historically, I rarely would send a message using a web form, because my perception was that it was getting written into a database and would never get seen.

By contrast, if a website had a contact e-mail, I assumed that someone would get my e-mail and likely respond in a few hours.

In the modern world, there are obviously dangers of just posting a contact e-mail on your website.

And furthermore, I don’t think I am the only one who is leery of web forms.

So what should a website owner do??

A year or two ago when I was surfing online, I read a few articles that offered a compromise…

You create a web form on your website, that when sent actually sends you an e-mail.

I believe the benefits to this approach include:

  • Protects your email from email harvesters
  • Reduces SPAM since you can add things like CAPTCHA
  • Still offers the convenience of e-mail - just protected via the initial web form

I guess it would help me out if others on SitePoint would tell me their perceptions of these differnt approaches and which ones they like best.

My goal is to make it so I don’t spend all of my time fighting SPAM and people just screwing with me sending bogus requests.

At the same time, I want to make myself very accessible to anyone who needs help or has questions - whether they are a registered user or just a visitor.

Does that make sense?

Well, option #4 in my OP would require that, yes.

Maybe a better way to state this additional question is this…

If you were a member of my website, and you had a question or needed help, which would be your preferred means of contacting me, the websmaster?

Would you want me to have User Profile and then you could send me a PM? (Like if you send “Hawk” a PM.)

Or would you e-mail me?

Or would you prefer a web form?

(Obviously if you are merely a visitor, then it would have to either be a web-to-email form or just a simple e-mail address listed.)

Am I making any sense?

I would go with the Web form that emails. Not everyone has a default email client set on their browsers which means they need to copy your email, login to their client, paste your email, create a subject, and finally write the message to send the form.

Whereas on a web form you just type your name, email, and message (or even select a message from a list). Side note: I would use a honey pot vs captcha.

For members, maybe you can use the PM system. This way if you end up with a crazy member, you can just give them the boot and not worry about them having your email.

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Personally, I dislike using contact forms for several reasons, but mainly because I like to keep a record of the message I’ve sent. (And I loathe Captchas. ) So by preference I’d use e-mail every time. I understand why many folk do prefer a contact form, though, so I’d say offer a contact for, but also list an e-mail address for those who prefer to use it.

Now that is an interesting perspective that I never considered!

What if I added a checkbox to my Contact Form so that you could be CC’ed?

That way you would have a record, and I could still protect my e-mail and reduce SPAM.

That would make me happy. I have come across one or two sites which do this.

Well, that was easy enough! :smile:

What are your thoughts on how registered users would/should contact me?

I currently offer the ability for registered users to PM each other, although I haven’t set up an Admin account.

If you were a registered user and logged in, would you intuitively reach for the Contact Form, or would you want to send a PM to an Admin if you had a question or concern?

(Obviously for visitors, they would need to use the Contact Form.)

Are we talking some kind of forum site? In that case, I would probably look to PM an Admin. Although I’m not sure it matters that much how you do it, as long as you make it easy for folk to find the contact and use it.

Not a forum site - more like social media - where users can PM each other.

My last question was trying to understand how you would intuitively try to contact the Admin if you had an issue…

The Contact Form I am trying to build is supposed to be the place where registered users and visitors would go if they had a question or issue. But as an alternative, I could create an Admin user profile where registered users could PM that account as well.

I am probably making all of this too complicated - I just know that I personally am leery of contact forms for the reasons mentioned above. And I want something that is easy and user-friendly so people feel encouraged to contact me if they have comments, questions or concerns.

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