As a digital marketer one of the things that really bothers me in 20 years of web design is this…
Every business-to-business website I’ve ever worked with has had a “contact us” page. If you have a product or service to sell, you naturally want to garner as many leads and enquiries as possible. So, by making it easy for people to get in touch, enquire and give you their details so that you can hopefully make a friendly, easy and profitable transaction is normal, right?
In order to achieve this you make the website contact form as easy to use as possible. The design must be easy on the eye, pleasing and appealing. The form needs to be as easy to fill in as possible. If you only need a name, phone number and/or email address then ask for them. Physical addresses and inside leg measurements, if they’re not required, should not be asked for then. Keep it Simple, right?
And once your happy visitor has completed their form, you want to make sure it is sent securely, that it’s not easy for spammers to send thousands of requests through your form and everyone’s a winner.
The very least you want to do once someone has submitted their request on your web form is to say Thank You.
And that is exactly what many forms do. You fill them in and all they say is Thank You.
The worst ones are those that simply display that text on the form that you just filled in. A little snippet of text that just says Thank You.
Better are those that have a tiny little red or green line around the text.
But that’s it.
I don’t like forms that behave like that.
However, some people do. And of all the people that like this method of thanking a user for completing a form with just a tiny snippet of text on exactly the same form that they just filled in and sent is the provider of probably the most popular form plugin for WordPress. Contact Form 7.
First Some Background
I manage a number of WordPress websites, most of which were not built by myself. When you operate third party websites there’s often a lot of “I wouldn’t have built it like that” sentiment.
Now, ego and feelings aside, when you objectively look at a website you need to make sure it looks good, works well, has a good user experience, is fast, efficient etc. Often a design agency will make something LOOK good but perform poorly. Personally I think websites should look good AND perform well.
One particular aspect is the contact form on a website.
If I go to a website and fill in a form, the best user experience is one where you have a very easy to complete form where you don’t have to think too much about what you’re filling in, you submit it and you get a very clear acknowledgement that your form has been submitted.
In my opinion, the very clear acknowledgement that your form has been submitted is a brand new page with a strong, bold clarification that your enquiry has been sent.
Additionally, I’d add that a very clear message is added to that acknowledgement such as “A member of our team will respond within 48 hours” and your customer service department does just that.
Happy enquirer. Happy website owner. Win win.
Furthermore, I’d add even more value to that “thank you” page. How about displaying some text saying thank you for the enquiry, and if you’d like to see more of our website take a look at X and Y pages/sections?
Because the enquirer might well be very interested in what you proposed. It’s added value, an additional benefit, you’re only trying to make their experience better.
The benefit to you as a webmaster or business is that your “thank you” page is an additional page view. That helps your web stats. And if your visitor reads more pages then that’s an even bigger bonus.
Homepage > contact = 2 page views.
Homepage > contact us > thank you page = 3 page views.
Homepage > contact us > thank you page > recommended page = 4 page views
Would you settle for just two page views or prefer 3 or 4?
The third page makes a big deal of appreciating the enquiry.
The fourth page could result in further enquiries, sales, bookmarks or social shares.
I know which option I’d go for.
So, for the producer of Contact Form 7 to say that “thank you” pages are “not necessary for 99.99%” I disagree for all the aforementioned reasons. That going to another URL after submitting a form is “very rare” may (now) be true but that does not necessarily make it appropriate or beneficial.
It’s true that you don’t need a “thank you” page to track form submissions in Google Analytics. You can set an event as a goal not just a page view. But, as mentioned above, what is the value of a snippet of text appearing on the form you just submitted? Have you ever filled in a form, pressed SUBMIT and then been unsure that it got sent? Did you fill it in again? Did you send it again? Were you still unsure or unclear that it was sent? Did you get frustrated? Did you only then notice, after the third time of trying that there was a tiny little line of text with a green or red border underneath your form?
You don’t need to be stupid to not notice these little things, you could just be in a hurry, rushed off your feet and not in the mindset to notice singe lines of text on forms.
As UX designers, as developers, as marketers, as innovators, good citizens, business people, friends, advocates etc it’s our duty to provide the best user experience.
Does a simple, clear, friendly and helpful “thank you” page not provide that?
So CF7 form redirecting is something that I willingly promote. Because if you do not clearly say “thank you” on a new page, add a nice message of genuine appreciation and clear acknowledgements, next step expectations and present your enquirer with more options, then you’re not making the world a richer place.