How Contact Forms Work

We’re not going to discuss the actual code of the contact form in this tutorial, but it is important to understand how the form actually works and we want to cover that first.  If you missed our previous article, please see the Advantages of using a Contact Form tutorial.

When a visitor goes to your contact page on your website, they will need to fill out the form. Once they have filled out the form fields, they will click the button to submit. Once submitted, the information in the fields will automatically be sent via email to you. On the server-side, once the submit button is clicked, typically a Perl script or PHP file runs. This reads the request and sends it to your email address. Don’t worry if you do not have an in-depth understanding of PHP or Perl.

When you receive the email, all the questions your visitor filled in will be in the email. Each time you receive an email it will be in the same format. This simplifies reading the email and even organizing them. since every email will have the same subject line, you can sort the emails to filter into their own folder in your email account.

After the form is processed by the server, you then have the ability to control where the visitor is re-directed to. You can have them return to the contact page or even be redirected to a custom thank you page. Typically, you will want to redirect them to a different page where you can acknowledge you have received their request and will contact them shortly. Setting up a contact form takes longer than a simple mailto tag however the benefits we mentioned in the previous tutorial make it worth the extra time and effort.      

Please check the next article on Creating a Contact Form with FormMail.


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