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Web Site Week – Day 3

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Web Design

Web Site Week – Day 3

Web Site Week rolls on with day number three! Web site owners are always trying to find ways to make their site better for their visitors. They also want to know what their visitors think of their site, so most designers include an e-mail address as the main way to contact them. But, there are a couple reasons why you shouldn’t post your e-mail address on your site.

  • Spammers – You wouldn’t just post your phone number up on a bathroom wall, would you? Of course not! You’d receive so many junk calls that you’d be up the wall. Well, spammers have robots that scan the Internet for e-mail addresses to spam, so it’s not a good idea to post your address on the Web.
  • Inconvenience – It’s much easier to have a user type out their message to you than to have them open up their e-mail service.

With that said, you might want to think about using what is called a Web form, which is what we’ll be working with today. A Web form on a Web page allows a user to enter in data that will be sent to a server or your e-mail address. The latter is what we’ll be doing today. Now, Google has a simple gadget that allows you to insert a form on your site, but it only includes the name, e-mail address, subject and message fields. If you want to add your own custom fields, such as a suggestion box or a problem area, you will need to use a great service known as Allforms.

1.) First, you’ll want to create an error and success page. The error page is for when an error occurs when a visitor tries to submit something on your form. A success page is for when the information is successfully sent.

Here’s what my error page looks like:

Here’s what my success page looks like:

2.) Next, visit this link. It is the home of the Allforms form to e-mail service.

3.) Click the Register button and then click the Free option. Next, fill in your e-mail address.

4.) A message will be displayed and an e-mail will be sent to your account.

5.) In the e-mail, you will find a password. Copy it to your clipboard and then click the link in the e-mail.

6.) Select Login from the top right of the page. Fill in your e-mail address again and paste your password in. Then click Login.

7.) You will be greeted by a page similar to the screenshot below. Click the link that says Basic Forms.

8.) Next, click the button that says Create New Form.

9.) Now, you will see what looks like a form, but it is just a dummy version. Click on any of the elements to edit them. Or, you can add a new text box by choosing it from the upper right corner. Click Next Step when you have finished.

10.) Select the elements of the form you want to be required on your Web site, followed by the e-mail address you want the results to be sent to. Then select the subject of the e-mails and then continue on with the error and success pages. Finally, I suggest you leave the format of the e-mails set to HTML.

11.) When you are done, select Next Step. A page will be displayed with the form’s URL. Be sure to place a link to that on your homepage as well.

12.) By the way, here’s what the results will look like in your e-mail:

Another way to stay in touch with your visitors is through newsletters. If feasible, it can be a great way to communicate with your visitors and introduce new pages and features of your Web site to them. Now, the easiest way to do that is to create a Yahoo! Group. You can learn how to do that by reading here. Then you can create and put a group newsletter box on your homepage, like this:

Have fun with this tip and I’ll see you all tomorrow for day four of Web Site Week!

~ Neil Patel

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