Almost every website needs some type of contact form to help customers contact you and get in touch about your products or services. If you’re using Joomla there are a whole bunch (43 in fact) of form components you can choose from the Joomla Extensions Directory, but which is the best one?
What should you look for in a form component?
Before we jump in and look at the different form facilities you can use on your website, let’s take a look at what makes up a good form component. Here are a few things that you will want to make your contact forms have:-
- They’re secure
- They send an email when submitted
- They don’t break or stop working when Joomla is upgraded
- They’re easy to use
- They automatically update confirmation emails if the form is changed
- They can have conditional formatting (fields that show dependant on selections)
Over the past 12 years of being in business, Marketeam has built hundreds of forms using all types of form components and online form systems and here’s what we’ve learnt.
Security is becoming more important to our customers
As more and more business is being conducted online, customers are becoming aware security is a key issue when protecting their customer’s data. Making sure your form component is secure is a must when it comes to running a successful Joomla website so it makes sense to ensure your form component isn’t likely to be hacked.
Free may end up costing you
Everyone loves a bargain and getting something for free is always fun, however, when it comes to such an important part of the conversion path, your contact form isn’t something you want to skimp on. If someone is giving away their software for free, it’s likely they aren’t updating or bringing out security patches for that software very often. Be aware that when you use a free piece of software, you’re taking a risk.
Note: this doesn’t typically include developers that offer a ‘freemium’ model where there’s a free version up to a certain limit, then you have to pay for a subscription if you go over those limits.
Handy Tip - Joomla actually publishes a Vulnerable Extensions List so it’s worth checking this website to make sure none of the components or modules you’ve got installed on your website is on this list.
Some form components won’t dynamically update
We’ve learnt this lesson the hard way on many occasions. Usually, when a form gets submitted by a potential customer, there are two emails that get triggered. An email to the customer that confirms they’ve filled out the form and an email to an admin to alert them that someone has submitted a form on their website.
Here’s where things can get a little tricky for many of the form components you will find in the JED (Joomla Extensions Directory). If you go into your form after it’s been on your website for a while and decide to update or change some of the fields, many of the form components you install directly into your Joomla framework won’t also dynamically update the associated admin and customer emails that get sent out. This means that if you change your forms regularly, it triples your workload as you’re not only changing the form but the fields in the admin and customer emails also.
A good form system should automatically update the emails connected to your form to make management and updates quick and simple.
Many Joomla form components have VERY temperamental SMTP settings
Many people don’t realise this when they install a form component into their Joomla framework but the emails that get sent to you as an admin and your customers go through your email server (usually part of your website hosting) and unless your system is set up exactly how the form component needs it to be, it’s likely your emails aren’t going to get through.
So what’s the best form component to use for Joomla?
We’ve tried most of the form components in the Joomla Extensions Directory over the years and we’ve come to the conclusion that the best form system for your website isn’t actually found in the JED.
We’ve found that using embeddable form systems like Jotform and Wufoo are a much better option when building your online forms and here’s why:-
Online form systems aren’t platform-specific
Because most online form builders give you the option to embed your form into your website (like you would a YouTube video or Google Map) you don’t have to worry about which content management system you’re using (Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, Concrete5, Dot Net Nuke, Wix, Squarespace, etc).
This means that down the track if you change platforms you won’t have to get rid of all your forms and their associated data.
Online form systems won’t break when you update your software
Online form systems have databases attached to them
Often form components that install into your Joomla install simply send an email once someone has submitted their details and that’s it. Online systems like Jotform and Wufoo will keep all the submissions you’ve received in an associated database so you’re able to download this data at any stage and say, send out an email offer to everyone who’s contacted you in the past 12 months for example.
So there you have it… the best Joomla form component isn’t actually a Joomla component at all. It’s actually an online service!
If you require help with your Joomla website or would like to speak with a Joomla expert, call Marketeam today on (07) 3882 3375.