A few weeks ago we discussed how many connections you can make through your farm website
. Today, let's talk about the safest way to get that email from the customer to you. Each Small Farm Central site comes with a contact form like this
. It is your basic contact form: subject, name, sender's email, and email text -- the customer clicks submit and the email is sent off to your email address. You have likely seen contact forms like this a hundred times before. There is a reason they exist -- the other option is not optimal. The alternative method is to make your email address a link. When the customer clicks on the address and a new email message is opened on their computer with your email address pre-populated. This second method is a shaky solution for two reasons:
- Many of us are now using webmail programs like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, or Hotmail and we don't have an email program installed and set up on our computer to send email. That muddies the process of how the email gets from the customer to you and will result in less connections.
- Your email address is in plain text on the world wide web, so spam software will stop by your site, search for text that looks like an email address, and then add your email to their spam database. You will see the amount of spam you get increase swiftly after your email address is exposed to the Internet.
A contact form (the first method) never exposes your email address to the Internet and does not require any extra software for the customer, so it is the best solution. I am sorry to say that having a contact form on your website requires some programming, so your are unlikely to pull one off unless you are using a service or content management system (CMS) like Small Farm Central. This is not possible through simple HTML (such as what you could create through Dreamweaver or other desktop website development software). One other option for those developing their own farm websites is to use the ReCaptcha service
to protect your email address from spammers (though it does not solve drawback #1). Click here
for more information on that service. Just Call it Contact
It is important to keep it simple and call the link for your contact form something like "Contact Us" because the word contact has become an important keyword. Some customers will come to your site specifically looking for a way to send you a message. Make it easy on them! Have a link for "contact" in a prominent location..