User Experience: Contact Page

Site usability and the user experience are critical factors when it comes to converting website visitors into leads, and the “Contact” page on your website is one that is particularly important to users.

The Norman Nielsen Group, world renowned usability experts, recently released the results of a study they performed in which they asked participants to attempt a series of activities related to the contact page on 40 different corporate websites. Based on their findings, here are some tips for making your Contact page as user friendly as possible.

Provide Contact Information On The Contact Page

Now, you’d think this one was a no-brainer. I mean, what else are you going to include on the contact page? But you might be surprised.

Even in this day and age, users expect to find a range of contact options on the page. They expect to see at least your phone number and email address, and prefer to see a physical address as well. A form is fine, but don’t only have a form.

This page should contain complete contact information, and all available communications options, from phone and email,  to a form, and address, and even social media links. Anywhere a user can contact you should be listed on this page, because when they go to that page, they are expecting a variety of methods of contact. Not finding it can harm the credibility of your website.

Put Contact Page Links Where They’re Expected

Another one that seems self-evident, but it’s important to place the links to your contact page where users expect them to be. And that means at the top right corner of your page, (typically the last link in the main or secondary navigation), and down in the footer of your site.

Don’t make it a sub-page of your company information page, or name it “Help Centre” or anything other than “Contact.”

When a user wants to contact you, that is what they are looking for, and it’s where they look for it. If they don’t find it, it’s also damaging to your credibility, because the perception is that you are “hiding” the contact information to make it harder to get back to you.

Don’t Hide Or Remove Phone Numbers

Displaying a phone number is a message to users that your business cares about them, and is available to discuss any questions or problems.

Although there is a trend these days for companies to want people to find their answers on the web-site, or to self-serve by filling out the required form that will be sent to the relevant department in order to reduce the time and resources cost of phone calls, the lack of a phone number can hurt business reputation.

The majority of participants in the survey admitted they would rather call and speak to somebody, than send an email or fill in a form, and not being able to do so was a strong negative indicator for them. A prominent phone number on the other hand, for example displayed site-wide in the header, was a positive sign for them.

Organise Your Contact Details

If you have multiple branches, or many points of contact, organise them into a logical structure. Group branches by region for example, and give users the ability to get both location and contact details for each branch.

Don’t group numbers according to your internal structure, group them according to the needs of your users.

Show Your Address

Showing your physical address on the website not only boosts your credibility with users, but it also allows Google to confirm you’re a relevant result for local searches.

The same applies to individual branches, particularly if you provide services to clients on location. Make sure you have addresses for each branch.

Facilitate Contact, Don’t Delay It

One of the biggest problems many users had was the provision of a contact form on the contact page, and nothing else. They reported feeling like they were surrendering control on the interaction to the company, and wondered when, and even whether, their query would be addressed.

Many people see a form as a barrier to communication rather than a facilitator thereof.

Have a form, but don’t only have a form. Include other forms of contact, and people will even feel better about filling out a form, knowing they have other options if necessary.

Keep Forms Simple

When you have a contact page form that you would like people to use to communicate with you, keep it simple. Limit teh fields to between 3 and 5, and ask only for enough information to be able to respond to them.

Ask for a name, a contact method (email or phone number) and the reason for the contact. Any more fields like this, and you begin increasing the likelihood that users will not complete the form. The more you ask for, the fewer people will submit it.

Chat And Social Options

As mentioned earlier, by all means include these on your contact page. But only if they are both available, and reliable. If you’re using social media, make sure you have an actual presence and are communicative over the platform, and if you use a chat feature, test it with your users, and make sure it is nonintrusive, always initiated on the client side, and preferably live.

Many people reported mixed feelings about chat, often citing bad experiences or poorly implemented chat-bots, and the people staffing your social media responses need to be well trained, and able to respond timeously.

Communicate Timeframes

And stick to them.

If certain channels are only available at certain times, tell users that it’s the case. If you have a 1 working day turn-around on email enquiries, make it clear, and make sure that you really are replying within that one working day.

Displaying business hours on the contact page can also help reduce or prevent user frustration.