Who needs a contact form?
As part of a recent update, I removed the contact form from this website and replaced it with a simple
mailto link. It started with a quick code review on GitHub. It bothered me that there was a small dirty-blue band at the end of the language graph tagged as ‘PHP’. My first instinct was to go and recreate the whole thing in Ruby, but then it dawned on me that I couldn’t think of a single advantage to using a contact form over a plain old email link.
To confirm I wasn’t alone in my thinking, I tweeted a quick poll. I received half a dozen replies, all voting for plain, old email.
The advantages are huge:
- A copy of the message is stored in the Sent mailbox
- It’s possible to save a draft while working
- People are familiar with their email client interfaces
- Attachments can be included
Essentially, contact forms are a black hole at the mercy of AJAX, your server, the browser and more. Arguably, they may influence the supplied content and reduce incoming junk but spam is a developer’s problem, not a user’s, and there are always ways around those ‘required’ fields you may have defined. Contact forms create user-friction, while email just works.