Your website’s “contact us” page is the unsung hero of your entire online brand. A contact page has to be simple. It needs to look shallow, yet let the user dive in as deep as they need—or help them get what they need quickly, so they can reach out to the right people in your organization.
Unfortunately, it’s also easy to neglect your site’s contact page—or have it set up in a way that’s unclear or hard for people to use.
As part of a recent redesign of our own flagship Palo Alto Software website, we reworked our contact page. Through the process of this redesign, explains John Procopio, Director of Marketing and Ecommerce, we put together these 10 tips that not only made our contact page better, but can make yours better too.
Why a contact us page is essential
“The end goal of the contact page refresh,” explains John, “was to make it as easy as possible for prospects, customers, or partners of all types to reach out to us.”
After all, getting in touch is a contact page’s simple, straightforward function. However, simple doesn’t mean easy. As you review your contact page, think about these four questions:
- How much information do you need a user to pass along in a contact form?
- Do you include full contact information for various departments, such as jobs or sales?
- When should you steer users to separate areas of the website?
- Can your contact page have too little information, so it’s not as useful as it could be?
The goal? Better user perception of your brand and more targeted interaction with the right people in your organization.
“Contact pages should have a near 100% conversion rate,” says John, “meaning that anyone who’s interested in reaching out should be successful once they get there. That might mean filling out a form, engaging in live chat, or picking up the phone.”
1. Your contact page should be easy to find on your website header or footer
For starters, the link to your contact page has to be easy to find. Eye-catching, but not distracting. Luckily, decades of website design has made this pretty straightforward: Website visitors expect to find contact page links in two main areas of your webpage design:
- In your website’s header area at the top of each page, such as a “Contact” link in the main navigation header, or at least in a submenu of your “About” menu. Usually the contact link is placed near the end of a navigation list.
- In your website’s footer area at the bottom of each page, such as a “Contact Us” link under a list of company information.
And keep the contact page’s link name simple, such as “Contact,” or a more casual “Get in touch.” Anything else will likely confuse the user, prevent them from getting in touch, and leave customers or potential clients frustrated with your brand.
Headers and footers are also natural areas to break out specific, one-tap/one-click contact methods. If you want people to easily be able to call your sales team or main number, for example, you can list a prominent phone number in the header.
A footer might include a link to start a live chat or a dedicated area that gives an at-a-glance presentation of the main ways users can contact or engage with your organization. Depending on the importance of social media to your brand, your website’s header and/or footer might also include icons for your brand’s primary social networks.
2. Include your business’s email address, phone number, mailing address, and any other ways to get in touch.
On the contact page itself, you’ll typically include two main areas:
- Overall organization contact information, such as the primary phone and fax numbers (including any specific local, toll-free, and/or international options), physical location, mailing address, primary brand email addresses (such as for sales or customer support), social networks, and hours of operation.
- A brief contact form (more on that below) that routes to the best contact at your company. Many organizations prefer a form to listing multiple email addresses, since forms can decrease the amount of incoming spam as well as give the user a clear course of action of filling out one form, as opposed to trying to find the right email address in a list.
If you are listing email addresses, talk with your website provider or IT department on how to protect yourself from spammers.
Your contact page can also have clear areas for specific touchpoints, such as a link for customer service or support. Especially for support, distinct options can prevent time-sensitive support or service issues from going to the wrong place. A clear support area is also the perfect spot to encourage the user to engage in a live chat or pick up the phone.
“Give users all the options and let them self-select into the contact mechanism that makes the most sense to them and best meets their needs,” explains John.
Also, have an area that lists out your organization’s social media pages, so users can connect with you via their preferred social networks as well. Lastly, don’t be afraid to use your contact page as a way to reinforce your brand’s persona, with visuals or verbiage that help users feel connected to your brand. Don’t overdo it though.
“Contact pages aren’t a place to be overly cute or artistic,” says John. “You know what information users are seeking, so give it to them clearly. Don’t make them dig into subpages for phone numbers or contact forms. Include your physical address, international phone numbers—and even that fax number!”
3. Link to your knowledge base, FAQ, or other important touchpoints
Your contact page doesn’t have to include every single touchpoint for your organization. A support area can also link out to other customer-focused resources, such as your FAQ page and knowledge base. Those links can save time for everyone, helping users find answers and take care of their own issues, but if they need help, they can still easily get in touch.
“Often users have a common question in mind,” says John. “If you have a Frequently Asked Questions page, this is a good place to link it.”
Touchpoints like your contact us page aren’t just for sales and prospects, however. If you are recruiting for open positions, link to your jobs or careers page. Have a media or press area? Include a link to that too. In addition to social networks, your contact page can also link to other ways for users to keep engaged, such as signing up for your email list or checking out the company blog.
“Playing a little traffic cop will help your support department downstream,” says John, “as now they won’t be as responsible for routing requests that fall out of their purview (although Outpost can help with that!)”
4. A short contact us form helps users explain their need/request
While the information above is important, odds are your contact page’s primary call to action is going to be filling out a contact form. It’s obvious to the user and looks simple on the page—as long as you do it right.
The strength of a contact form is that you can use simple dropdown menus to help users self-select where their inquiry needs to go. Then, behind the scenes, your website can take care of the business of routing the email to the right recipient.
Here are 3 things to keep in mind:
Keep it short. With any good contact page, less is more. The more form fields a user has to fill out, the more likely they are to get frustrated and decide not to get in touch at all.
Focus on four fields: text boxes for name and email, a text box or drop-down menu for the subject, and a larger text area for the message the person is sending your organization.
Only ask for what you need, and only require what is essential. If you handle the majority of correspondence through email, ask for email—don’t ask for their phone number or address if you don’t need it or won’t use it.
“If you need key information that will help your internal team be more efficient, such as order number or customer number, make those fields available,” says John.
“Also, bring your support team into the conversation and allow them to offer feedback to your web designers on what’s working and what’s not from their perspective.”
5. Thank them and confirm you’ve gotten their message
Once the person sends in their form, thank them for getting in touch and assure them that you’ve gotten their message.
Use either a simple, but visually clear on-page message (such as a green checkmark and relevant short text), or redirect to a thank-you page that explains when and how you’ll be back in touch. The thank-you page is also a good place to link to other resources that might be helpful, such as an FAQ, current specials, or their online account area.
An automated confirmation email can be a good way to let the user know you’ve received their message. It can also provide a copy of what they sent, and reinforce when they can expect to hear from you.
6. Keep it short and to the point: no huge drop-down menus
In addition to keeping your contact form short, keep any drop-down menus short too. Common ways to do this are to list overall departments (customer service, sales, media relations, HR, etc.). Or, set up one menu to specify an overall department, then have a second menu that populates with other options based on the choice made in the first menu.
Either way, don’t let menus get long. People will get confused and frustrated, and they are more likely to abandon the contact form or send it to the wrong place, potentially resulting in a lost message and a negative user experience.
Once your contact form is up and running, also keep an eye on how many forms are coming in—or if they stop coming in.
“Monitor overall contact requests—factoring in seasonality, if relevant—to see when the peaks and valleys occur,” says John. “Also, if you’re always keeping your eye on the ball, you’ll know sooner than later if there’s some sort of breakage that is causing folks not to be able to submit a form, for instance.”
7. Ask for an email address and/or phone number
At a minimum, ask for the user’s email address. However, depending on your market, it can also be a good idea to include a field for a phone number. This way people can also specify how they want you to get back to them. A common best practice is to require an email address, but list an optional phone number too. Again, avoid asking for information you don’t need and don’t plan to use.
8. Set response expectations—and then follow through
Users want to know when they can expect to hear back from you. They also expect you to reply in a timely manner, often within one business day—but preferably one hour or less.
Make sure your thank-you messaging and any automated confirmation emails also reinforce your expected response time. And, of course, follow through, so the user knows they can trust you to stick to your commitment.
Your contact page and any thank you/confirmation pages or emails should also list your support hours, including the time zone. That way users know when your support staff is available.
“It’s super important to set the right expectations,” says John. “Be transparent as to what your customer support hours are or what average turn-around time folks can expect to hear back from your team on.”
9. It looks like it’s meant for humans, not robots.
Simple should be usable. The people engaging with your contact page are there for a purpose. Present the most important information first, and make it easy for users to see what they’re looking for quickly, without reading through piles of information.
Also, expect your contact page to evolve, as you come to a better understanding of why users are coming to your contact page and reaching out to your organization.
“As you see what types of requests come in,” says John, “you can adjust the page to reflect that priority, thus making it even easier for folks to find the most popular option.”
10. Route responses to a shared inbox like Outpost, so you’re able to easily assign inquiries to the right people.
Once that user has filled out the contact form, how does your team manage the email?
Outpost was designed to help teams manage email better together, so they’re more productive, and efficient. From routing rules to templates, analytics and the ability to assign messages to specific individuals, and more, Outpost helps teams not only stay on top of email, but wow users with best-of-the-best replies and response times.
Your contact us page is your brand’s hero
Contact pages are simple, but they should never be neglected or overlooked. By using the tips above to design a simple yet comprehensive contact page, your organization can do a better job of engaging with users, building a positive brand reputation, and growing the bottom line through sales and service.
“Think of your contact page as a potential partner or customer leads vehicle,” explains John, “not just a support channel.”