Email Form

Best Practices


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.

Example form


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.

Form Clearance

Forms that collect information require review by OMB, 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.)

Form Content

  • 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.