Testing, Testing, Testing – New Contact Options Being Worked On…

Making It easier to Contact Us.

When it comes to something as simple as a contact us page, you would think it would be pretty straight forward. This is however quite far form the truth of the matter.

As we like WordPress, having many sites based on the platform, we like to research and test plugins that we like to use on those sites. Since we also have customers whose prices points vary greatly, we like to test the range of available products from the free to the premium in a attempt to find those plugins we consider above average.

We look for products that are easy to setup, secure, and above all else, they have to work properly.

Today I have been working on Contact Plugins. There are of course no shortage of these plugins available for WordPress.

In all fairness, it has taken a lot more time then I was originally hoping for, but to an end I have discovered many other new items along the way.

After checking out several dozen contact form / contact us plugins, I now realize there is a lot of issues I will need to address one way or the other. Let’s take a look a little deeper.

Plugins I liked often have a couple of nice features, but tend to fall short of an overall package. Plugins I didn’t like often actually had better features, but either had too many things, such as a contact form that also has a full e-commerce package, or they were quite difficult to implement.

Along the way I also found that separation of contact options and other more advanced featured often kills a plugin.

As part of this test I attempted to only use those plugins that are specifically available for WordPress 3.6. No send in going back to outdated plugins, right?

vCita WordPress Contact Form and Fast Secure Contact form

vcita-contact-formFor Instance, I like Fast Secure Contact Form as it integrates with vCita makers of this WordPress Contact Form Plugin which is quite a nice setup. However I found several issues or concerns.

Fast Secure Contact form to me was a little clunky to work with, (version 3.1.9), and a little daunting even for an advanced user. This is definitely not a “beginner friendly” plugin in my opinion. On top of this I do not really want my contact forms going to a secondary email address, but would love to have them directly integrated into the WordPress back-end admin area, or better still into a user account accessible area of WordPress.

I loved the features offered by the vCita plugin, but it too means that the end user (customer) interactions are stored off site. This can be beneficial such a sup time issues. There is less chance both vCita’s hosting and our own go offline at the same time. The vCita plugin also adds a nice popup for contacting me and a great method for scheduling appointments.

wordpress-contact-form-cimattiWordPress Contact Form By Cimatti

A plugin I did like, WordPress Contact Forms by Cimatti has the internal WordPress integration I was looking for. For example, the internal addition of dedicated separate menu bars is nice. Forms that are submitted are also kept internally to WordPress. I found the setup was quick, easy, and straightforward. This plugin also went a step further with email templates that are available depending upon who gets the information, such as error messages, admin notifications, user confirmations for completed forms. This makes the plugin quite usable for a basic mailing list as well. One feature I would love to have seen here though would have been the ability to customize the look and feel of each form. The plugin does allow you to override css but it is not on a per form basis.

 WordPress Contact Form Maker

form-makerA great plugin seemed to be this one by WebDarodo, WordPress Contact Form Maker.

I liked the featured of this plugin. This was much easier on the eyes. Well thought out integration and functionality.

This plugin has live previews of the forms, a dozen or more predefined color templates, and extensive options for future tweaking. It does however also come at a price, $29 for the premium version to be exact. It still offers considerable functionality for the free option. The paid version includes additional features such as Paypal, custom html, and a host of other goodies.

The testing continues…

For now I will use the Fast Secure Form listed above and the vCita integration as a temporary solution until I either write my own version of this type of plugin or find something that makes more sense. You can check out the recent Contact Us page over here.

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