Listen, Contact Form. It’s time we had a talk. I know we’ve been putting this off for a long time.
You’ve done a lot of good. Anybody can see that. All those leads you brought in — fantastic. I’m not sure what we’d do without you.
That’s what makes it so hard to bring this up.
You just seem, well, bigger than I remember.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I know your 17 fields (or however many, I lost count) are part of who you are. But let’s be honest—you’re starting to look a little bloated.
It’s time you trim back — cut the fat, if you will — and really ask yourself why you need so many fields.
For starters, why do you need everybody’s phone number? I’m not jealous, but don’t you think asking for a phone number is a little imposing? If someone’s interacting with you — a form on a web page — don’t you think they’d prefer to hear back from you on their own time? Contact forms should only require an email address, not a phone number. (And don’t even get me started on asking people for their fax numbers.)
Have you always made people awkwardly tab and split up their first name and last name? I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, and bringing this up might make people managing the back-end a little uncomfortable, but you’ve got to start being a little friendlier to the end user (especially in areas of the world where it’s not quite as black and white as “First name, last name”). I think it’s time to work on this bad habit of yours—use a singular name field.
And I know you’re trying to be helpful with those little red asterisks next to every single required field. It’s just something I’ve come to expect from you, I guess. But people need clearer expectations from you. Can’t we just assume that since you’re a contact form, it’s important to fill out every field and instead give a hint as to what’s optional? I’m a little embarrassed of the friction between you and the people who fill out your fields. When someone’s just looking for information, don’t make them think about what’s required.
I’m sorry, Contact Form — I really don’t mean to keep picking on your flaws, but while we’re at it, why do you have an open-ended “Subject” field? Sometimes, I need you to take charge. Give me some ideas once in a while — let the end user choose the subject or topic of the contact from a list. It’ll help keep end users out of the uncomfortable position of thinking of yet another thing to write, not to mention help us better manage responses.
You know what? It’s not all your fault.
Maybe I’ve been asking too much of you. I know I’ve told you how much I’d love to have as many phone numbers and complete addresses as we can hold in our database. I put a lot of pressure on you to get that from people. Maybe I need to ask myself what’s really important for us to learn about someone on the very first contact, and what we can learn in a follow-up email. After all, any little bit of friction — usually in the form of more fields than necessary to accomplish a task — might chase someone away. We certainly wouldn’t want that.
Understand, Contact Form, I’m only bringing this up because I want what’s best for everybody. I know you could be your best self if you just lost a little weight — you know, drop a few of those unnecessary fields — and took that intimidating, unfriendly edge off.
Maybe a single name field, email address, selectable subject list, and optional message field is all you need. All I want is what’s best for us.
About Steve Luvender
Steve Luvender is a Senior User Experience Designer at Liquid Interactive, where he works with organizations to design and implement solutions that delight people and create business results.