Susannah’s blog

What is a contact form for?

With all the fuss surrounding Facebook and the security of our data, it’s worth looking at a small part of the story – the contact form. Why is it there ?

Many websites have contact forms just because they can, or rather because the person who made the site wants to show what he or she can do. The form looks tidy and professional.

Does it make your task as a user of the site easier? Personally, I’d say No. I hate filling in forms. I probably wouldn’t bother to contact a site that forced me to use a form. I’d rather send an email or use a phone.

Besides, filling in an online form leaves you with no record of what you have said, unless the site replies quoting you. So it’s not efficient.

Then there’s the business of working out which information is required and which is optional – annoying and a waste of time. And that is what gives the game away: if some details are not required, why am I being asked for them?

There we have it. The purpose of a contact form is to collect your data. It is not there for the user’s convenience or benefit. It is there for the benefit of the website owner. As soon as you fill in the form, yet another organisation has your details.

Yet this could be a mistake on the part of website owners.

When the owner of a nice-looking website that has been up for nearly two years says there hasn’t been a single enquiry via the site, what is the problem? Apart from factors such as search engine visibility, I can’t help thinking that the contact form puts some people off, particularly when a site is offering a service, as opposed to a product, and a personal contact would be more appropriate.

For organisations with databases behind their websites, the contact form can even be dangerous. Unless the form has been properly set up, experienced hackers can use it to get access to the database, and potentially to passwords and financial details.

 
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