Contact Forms; how long is too long?

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Contact Forms

Having contact information on your website — especially if it’s a business website — is one of the most important things you need to have. Sometimes that’s a phone number, an email address, or a physical location. Most often, it’s a contact form.

They’re everywhere, they’re easy to use, and they’re easier than ever to build as a site owner. No matter which CMS you use, there’s a form builder plugin for it.

Since we love WordPress so much, we stick by Gravity Forms as our go-to for form building. But there’s plenty of them available out there. Some free, some paid. Some great, some not-so-great.

The question I often get asked the most — when pertaining to contact forms — is how long should the form be?

As the business owner, you want the form to collect as much information as possible. As a customer, you want the least prohibitive manner to contact the business. So, where’s the happy medium?

Let’s focus on you, happy business owner. Your mind initially thinks “let’s get as much information as I can from the person filling out my form”. But that’s not the best idea. Let’s evaluate why.

Let’s use this form as an example of an overly long and overly complicated form.

If I’m your potential customer and I’m looking to contact you to get more information, why should it matter what day and contact method I prefer? I’d wager 99% of the time, my actual response would be “as soon as possible” or “right now”. Why would I fill out your form and say “no no, I’m not in a rush, contact me on Friday” if it’s Monday?

Also, the preferred method of contact is a waste of my effort. Either only show me a phone number field or an email field and I’ll assume that’s how you’ll contact me.

But how do I know what’s too much and what’s too little?

While I’m a big fan of short and sweet forms, hoping to only give you my name and email address and perhaps a short comment about why I’m contacting you, sometimes data is more important in making your decision.

A tool like Hotjar will allow you to build a form and then visualize where customers drop off.

Here’s their example of what that function looks like:

You can see, specifically, where people stop filling out your form.

This is a very good indicator that your form is too long.

Does that mean all forms need to be ultra short? No, not at all. If your form serves a purpose other than “get this person in touch with me”, such as signing up for your newsletter, buying something from you, enrolling in pre-school, etc., it’s fine to have the form be longer, but within reason.

What’s the conclusion?

Keep your contact form short. Name, phone number or email, and a reason for contact.

Once you’re communicating with your customer, then you can ask them anything else you want to know. It’s much faster for you and easier for your customer to gather that additional information after the initial contact.

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