Email forms are useful for collecting information from site visitors. Each visitor’s responses are emailed to a form administrator. The WCMS provides a drag-and-drop form builder.
Sometimes a “mailto” link will do for collecting information. Use a form in the following scenarios:
- When you need to control what information your visitor sends you (for example, to make certain they don’t forget to include key information)
- If any submitters might want to remain anonymous
Otherwise, use a mailto link for personal contacts or freeform messages.
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- tools iconBuilding in the WCMSSee key tips and guidelines for working with email forms in the WCMS.
- photo iconTP4 UX Best Practices ppt icon[PPT - 14 MB]For general guidance on colors, layouts, and overall presentation, see this overview of TP4 best practices.
Forms that collect information require review by OMBpdf icon, CDC Privacy Office, and ISSO.
- All internet-based collection
- Any intranet-based collection from anyone who is not a federal employee (for example federal contractors)
For more information, contact the following:
- The CDC Privacy Office (770-488-8660)
- Your organization’s OMB and ISSO representatives
Planning Your Form
Before implementing a form, the data owners will need to answer a few questions:
- What information do we need to collect and why? What will we do with it?
- Who will receive and handle the submitted information?
- Should the form submitter receive an email? If yes, what should be the “from” email address?
- After a visitor submits the form, where will he or she be directed? (Typically this is a thank-you page designed especially for the purpose. See example thank-you page.)
- Be brief. Typically, the shorter the form, the higher the conversion rate.
- Consider required vs optional responses.
- Use concise labels with plain language.
- Include help text to help visitors understand the purpose of a question and to explain input or formatting requirements. (In the example form at the top of the page, the small text directly above the first question is help text.)
- Use placeholder text only as a supplement to help text. (Placeholder text disappears when the user begins entering text.)
Selecting Field Types
- Use a text field when it’s easier for the user to type an answer than select it.
- Use a drop-down if you have predefined options to select from and limited space; if you have a large set of options, consider using a text field instead. (Note: Include an entry for “Select a [blank]” as the default first option in the drop-down menu.)
- Use radio buttons when options are mutually exclusive and users need to see all available options, but use a drop-down for more than seven options.
- See an example form with various entry field types.