HTML and CSS Reference
In-Depth Information
Replace Contact Forms with mailto Links
Turn contact forms into real mailto links.
<form action="" method="post">
<input type="hidden" value=""/>
<input type="text" name="subject" /></label></p>
<input type="text" name="message" /></label></p>
<p><input type="submit" value="Send e-mail"/></p>
<a href="">
Send E-mail to TIC support
E-mail programs give users much more powerful and comfortable editing and archiving facilities. You will
receive better communications when users can use their e-mail program of choice to compose their messages
to you.
Furthermore, users will be able to maintain a record of their correspondence for easier reference in the future.
This will make the communication more effective.
Potential Trade-offs
Users working from public terminals may not have an e-mail program installed or properly configured. You may
wish to provide contact forms and mailto links. That way, users can choose what works best for them. However,
do make sure the e-mail address is prominently displayed and visible on your site. Don't make users hunt for it.
Users who rely on web mail providers such as Yahoo! Mail and Gmail will need third-party extensions and
various hacks to make mailto links work for them. Many have already installed such extensions.
E-mail may not tie into back-end bug tracking and customer management systems as easily as a web form.
When shopping around for such systems, you should insist on e-mail management as a core feature. Even if
your system does accept e-mail input, you may not be able to organize the requests into such neatly fielded
responses. You'll need to be ready to parse information such as order dates, problem categories, and more out
of the plain text of the e-mail. This usually requires human intelligence. That is, a person has to sit down and
read the e-mail to figure out what it means. You do more work so that your customer does less. However, if this
is too onerous, there are some tricks you can play to still use fielded forms while enabling your customers to
use their real e-mail programs.
Publishing e-mail addresses on web sites opens them up to spam. In fact, even without that, they're probably
getting a lot of spam already. I'll address techniques for minimizing this in the next chapter.
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