In order to build relationships with your readers, communication is vital. Unfortunately, placing a live-link email address into your blog is an open invitation for spammers to invade your in-box. A good alternative is the addition of a contact form page. While the form may not appear as personal as a direct email message, it actually goes directly into your email in-box and you can respond to the sender directly from your email platform.
I’ve used a few different contact forms in the past, but I prefer the Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form. I’ve used it for several years on more than one blog without any issues. The name of the form sounds intimidating, but it’s easy to set up, although it isn’t listed in the WordPress dashboard’s automatic plugin installation directory, so you’d have to upload it to your blog using File Transfer Protocol. Another good form that is included in the plugin directory is the Fast and Secure Contact Form.
They work about the same way but I prefer the Secure and Accessible one because it asks the user a security question (Is fire hot or cold?) whereas the Fast and Secure Form uses Captcha for security. Captcha forms are easily solved by many automated systems.
To get started, create a New Page in your blog and title it “Contact.” Leave the page blank for now and either using FTP or the automatic plugin uploader, install and activate whichever form you’ve chosen to use. The remainder of this tutorial will be specific to the form I’m using, but the other form configuration is very similar, and the developer has step-by-step instructions, including screenshots, on his website.
Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, scroll to the bottom of your WordPress Dashboard sidebar and click on the Contact Form link. A drop-down menu will appear. If you select “Contact Form,” you’ll be taken to the form’s overview page. (Click on the screenshots for full page view.)
The next step is to go to the form’s General Configuration page, where you’ll be asked a few questions, such as which email address you wish to use. On this screen you’ll be able to create custom fields if you want, write your own anti-spam question, and decide which pull-down menu choices (unlimited) you want to include in the “Reason for Contact” section, such as “To Make a Comment,” “To Report a Site Issue,” etc. Because you can type in your choices in the form’s configuration fields (very easy), you can customize this form to your specific needs. The URL of your Contact Form will be (unless you named it something other than “Contact”) http://yourdomainname.com/contact.
If you have any questions about the specific fields within the configuration page, go back to the plugin’s drop-down menu in your WordPress Dashboard and click on “Documentation.” This page will likely answer them. If not, there is a lot of support on the developer’s website that I linked to earlier.
Now for the final set up. Save your configuration changes and go to Pages > Edit in your Dashboard’s sidebar. From the list of Pages in your blog, select “Contact.” On the Page Edit screen, click on the HTML tab. Insert this code:
Save your changes and Publish your page. View your Contact Page to see your new form. You can go back to the Dashboard and click “Style” on the plugin dropdown menu if you wish to tweak the form’s appearance. Now you can check your form by sending yourself a test message.
Ta-da! Your form is done. I hope you found today’s Techie Tip useful.
Until next time,