Is Your Nonprofit Website’s Contact Form Helping or Hurting Fundraising Efforts?
Contact forms are one of the most important features of any website, being the main way most website users interact with an organization to ask questions or request information. If users have a poor experience using a website’s contact form, bad things happen: User frustration with the experience turns into frustration with the organization that created the form. As a result, in the case of nonprofits, opportunities to receive donations disappear.
Good form design is arguably more important for nonprofits than for B2B or B2C organizations. In business, website visitors looking at products or services need something and may be willing to muscle through a difficult contact form. However, in the nonprofit world, nobody needs to make a donation. Here are important considerations for contact form design:
Keep form fields to a minimum—the simpler the form, the more likely people will take the time to submit an inquiry.
Users hesitate to submit forms, because of privacy concerns. Be sure to include a privacy statement on the form that lets users know their information will not be sold or given to third parties. If your organization does not use emails and phone numbers for further solicitation effort, state that as well.
Make form fields large and easy to use for mobile users. Mobile Internet access now exceeds desktop access. If your form is hard to use on a mobile phone, you may greatly reduce submissions.
Provide prompts to the user in a field that asks to describe the nature of the inquiry. Options could be:
- I want to talk to someone about making a donation.
- I want information about “X” emailed to me.
- I want information about “Y” emailed to me.
Include an optional field where users can compose their own message. This ensures that no matter what the user wants, he or she can easily convey the request.
The “Submit” button should be large and colorful.
Error messages should display prominently, so users know there is a problem. It’s very frustrating when a form won’t submit and the user cannot understand why.
Test form functionality regularly (once a month, at least) to make sure everything is working properly. From a development standpoint, the faster forms work, the better.
When a form is submitted, automatically send an email response notifying the user the inquiry was received, expressing thanks for the inquiry and letting the user know what will happen next in terms of communication.
It’s worthwhile for the marketing department to review form submissions, so they can gauge what people are most interested in learning more about. If there are constant themes, perhaps additional content should be added to the website addressing the topic(s). Conversely, if some topics are seldom if ever requested, perhaps content can be removed from the site, making it simpler and therefore easier to use.
One final point: In addition to streamlining form design and function, be sure to complement those efforts with due attention to ease of making a phone inquiry. If a website user has a complicated question or simply prefers the phone, the website must make the phone number easy to find. For mobile website display, the phone icon should always be visible on the screen and have click-to-call functionality.
Brad Shorr is director of content strategy at Straight North, an Internet-marketing company in Chicago that provides SEO, PPC and web-design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Forbes, Moz and American Marketing Association.