Although content might be the core of the internet, the most important aspect of your website could arguably be the contact page, otherwise known as the contact form. The contact page is so important because it often serves as a funnel for people to take action by contacting you for a quote or to request more information. Consequently, you should know as much as possible about the critical components and functionality of your form and ensure it has the versatility, appearance, and security your site requires. Obviously, if you select the wrong form, your site can suffer from a severe hack, or it might not synchronize well with your brand. However, the biggest danger that website entrepreneurs or administrators will face is not understanding the full functionality of the contact page and not being able to use it to its full capacity. When this type of failure takes place, sales and leads might suffer due to the simple lack of information. Of course, the good thing about this is that these sort of rookie problems are easily fixed by understanding such things as how to install a form, the primary functions of a form, and what a contact page can do.

Simply put, it is a web page designed to take user input and deliver it to a destination. It is the primary way through which customers respond to sales offers, request quotes, or obtain more information about a service or product. For many HTML sites, a form might need to be programed using a combination of .PHP, AJAX, or MySQL.

However, if you planned ahead and your website uses a content management system, you will likely be able to install a form via a plugin. In this case, a contact page is much easier and less time consuming to install and manage, allowing you the possibility to begin obtaining leads as quickly as possible.

“However, the biggest danger that website entrepreneurs or administrators will face is not understanding the full functionality of the contact page and not being able to use it to its full capacity.” – CalTech Web

As the leading content management system (CMS), WordPress (WP) allows any online entrepreneur the opportunity to easily manage content and run a small or global website.

In terms of generating leads and receiving content from visitors, the content forms available for this CMS are proven programs that have been installed on millions of sites. In terms of usability and functionality, this top-tier CMS is probably the leading choice for site administrators because of the following features.

  • Modular
  • SEO friendly
  • Works with thousands of community plugins
  • Allows forms to be easily installed, managed, and customized
  • Secure handling of submissions generated via content forms

Additionally, with this CMS, a content form can be easily designed to match the brand’s colors, style, and image

When it comes to web design contact forms for an HTML site, many have to be hard coded into the site. However, with a CMS, a form can be installed with a single click. Once installed, the form can be activated with another click. Once it is activated, you can then customize your form via the dashboard menu, and when it is designed to your specifications, you can save it.

If designing a form sounds intimidating, the dashboard instructions will prompt you through the process, or you can modify a pre-existing template.

With over 9,000,000 installs, Contact Form 7 (CF7) is one of the top form processors on the market. It allows you to place a form into any page or post, and it easily adjusts its appearance to the template of your site.

In terms of performance, it is lightweight. Consequently, your site will not bog down when people fill out a form. This focus on speed is important because your site’s SEO ranking is impacted by how fast it responds.

Finally, once you have completed your form, in order to insert it into a page, all you need to do is copy and paste the shortcode into a page or post. Shortcodes can be pasted directly into the text editor, but certain templates also allow you to paste the shortcode into a widget or smart block on a page builder.

In addition to being extremely easy to customize and implement, a form is one of the best ways to securely reach visitors on your site. Additionally, it can work in conjunction with a variety of other modules for greater security, privacy, or validation. Specific features include the following.

  • Tracks visitors and shoppers via a cookie
  • Saves user information to database for later retrieval and analysis
  • Has a mode for stealth tracking
    free to use
  • Allows you to customize each section
  • Validates content entered by users
  • Can force submitted content to include certain types of content, such as name and address
    Updated regularly to work with
  • latest WP builds
  • Responsive to phone screens, tablets, or computer monitors

“In terms of generating leads and receiving content from visitors, the content forms available for this CMS are proven programs that have been installed on millions of sites.” – Caltech Web

You can customize your form by inserting different form codes into your form template. These codes can look intimidating to new users, but the instructions to implement the codes are easy to understand. For instance, if you want to include a section in your form that gathers a visitor’s address, you would customize what is known as a tag.

Tags come in two types: a form tag and an e-mail tag.

Form tags allow you to modify forms with different types of sections. E-mail tags allow you to specify that an e-mail will be required. E-mail tags are different from form tags in that they force the program to look for a line of text that matches the format of an e-mail address.

Specifying form tags

  • Enter type: specify the section’s type with a text tag
  • Enter name: label the text with a header, such as “address”
  • Enter value: enter a pre-filled value that lets the user know what to enter, such as “address information”
Once you have built your form to your specifications, you can save it. Once the form is saved, it will be automatically assigned what is known as a shortcode. A shortcode is simply a brief line of code that usually consists of a few letters. The format will be as follows. [contact-form-7 id=”4316″ title=”My Great Example Form 3″] All you have to do is copy everything, including the square brackets, and paste it into your page or post. Because the aforementioned tags and the above shortcodes can seem complicated, many users might want to hire a qualified web designer to manage the customization of forms. Doing so ensures everything is done quickly and completely. That said, for anyone interested in managing forms, this particular form processor is documented with lots of instructions, examples, and videos.
For any business, branding is important to develop a loyal following. Because any form made with CF7 simply pastes into a page or post, the actual branding of your site will largely be dictated by the page header or post header, each of which can include your business logo. In terms of overall appearance, your form will look like any other type of content on your site. This type of integration is one of the best parts of CF7 because it is fully embedded in your site. Conversely, some types of hosted forms might seem easy to use, but the URL in a hosted form will have the hosting company’s website included as part of the address. This type of URL formatting increases the hosting company’s brand awareness and improves the SEO of the company’s website. With CF7, your form is embedded on your own site, ensuring your have complete control over your brand appearance.
Spammers can make any administrator’s life an e-mail nightmare. Additionally, insecure forms can be hacked by a knowledgeable person intent on wrecking your site. Another danger involves bots. Bots can use an insecure form to enter a variety of content, most of which serves as spam. However, some can scrape your site, and others can even setup shop and mine digital currency. To combat this, you can utilize several types of security to help eliminate spam and harden your site. Honeypots, for instance, are the first type of defense that can help a form processor distinguish between a human and a bot. Honeypots create fields that humans cannot see. Bots, however, see them and fill them out. If any form is completed and if the honeypot field is also filled in, the resulting content is marked as spam and not delivered. There are also a variety of third-party programs that you can plug right into your WP site, and these can help protect against bots that do not fall for honeypots. For instance, you can install Google reCAPTCHA. In the interest of affordability, Google reCAPTCHA is free.
Taking a payment via a form is an advanced operation, and many people benefit from the assistance of a professional web designer with experience in installing payment options inside a regular form. That said, doing so is relatively easy if you have a PayPal account or an account with some other payment processor. The first step is to install the appropriate payment module. Many such modules can be found via your WP dashboard. Following are the usual steps for setting up payment with a WP form.
  • Install module
  • Activate module
  • Open the module’s
  • administrator settings
  • Fill out the settings, using your PayPal account information
  • Ensure all payments are processed via HTTPS
  • Update the shipping costs
  • Update the tax costs
  • Setup your post-purchase redirect to a confirmation page
  • Fill out the e-mail notification fields to enable customer and administrator notifications for each completed payment
Note: some payment plugins offer a professional upgrade that will include more features, but the basic payment modules are free. In terms of your PayPal account, it is advised to have a PayPal business account.

Once a visitor to your site fills out the form and clicks the send button, the content will be delivered to any e-mail address specified in the e-mail form fields located in the setup panel. In addition to notifying someone via e-mail that a site visitor is requesting information or following up on a promotion located on the site, the form can notify multiple people if you assign multiple e-mail recipients.

Multiple notifications can alert teams that an order is coming in, which can be important in a production environment or environments setup to provide immediate assistance for special clients.

“Honeypots, for instance, are the first type of defense that can help a form processor distinguish between a human and a bot.” – CalTech Web

Many times, the content captured in a form consists of a short page filled with only a few fields. These fields might include user name, a physical address, and an e-mail address. Additional fields might include a phone number and a text area for the visitor to write a brief message. However, longer forms might be necessary for people filling in quote requests, resumes, or medical information. For instance, a form used on an employment site might capture multiple types of information, including educational history, work experience, and professional certificates or licenses. These types of longer forms can be quite complicated. If you include all these types of information one a single page, the form could appear to be six feet long, requiring someone to scroll endlessly to fill out the form and find the submit button. Anyone faced with such a form might simply leave the site. A cleaner approach to complex forms is to create multi-page forms. This type of form can be a little more complicated than a simple form, so you might benefit from a web designer experienced with such things. That said, to create your own, you can install a CF7 multi-step form module to provide you the framework for a multi-page form. The overall process involves two operations.
  • Create a form in CF7
  • Insert a different page transition by clicking “insert step” into the form editor at the place the section should break
  • As with a standard form, you simply paste the resulting shortcode into your page or post. The result will be several short forms that are all governed by the final submit button.
    Contact Form 7 is open sourced. As such, it is free for anyone to use. Furthermore, you can use your web design contact forms for personal or commercial purposes. Many of the modules for CF7 are also free, but many might come with a premium fee or might have an upgrade option that allows more features. Of course, whether you need these particular options depends on your website. In terms of affordability, WordPress and most modules are completely free. All you need to ensure is you have a web host that will run it.
    All online software updates occasionally, and when it does, you will want to ensure to update your modules or your CMS. An experienced web designer can setup your website to automatically update. However, if you are managing your own forms, you will need to pay attention to the notifications you receive when you log into your site. For instance, every time you log into your site, there are two primary areas that will notify you if your version of CF7 needs to be updated. The first place is on the top section of the admin screen. The second place is on the installation page for all your third-party modules. To update your version of CF7, all you need to do is click the update button. The CMS will then access the primary CF7 site and download all the necessary upgrades. Once this brief process is complete, your site will be secure. If you do not update CF7 as needed, you might be unintentionally opening up your site to spam or to hackers.

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