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Before I get into how to find and use free email form generators, I’d like to explain why I decided not to create my own. For years I took the time to build my own websites from the ground up, but as the Web 2.0 virtual world introduced content management systems, widgets, script generators and more – the need to program every element of your own website or blog is no longer required.
Instead of spending hours trying to troubleshoot the bugs in your web page code, you could be spending that time producing quality content that draws in more visitors. It’s for this reason that I opt for pre-made widgets and I use script generators whenever possible. At the moment I’m searching for a high quality free contact form that I can use on my writing website to offer my SEO services to visitors. I thought this is a good time to bring along MUO readers on my exploration for the very best free email form generators available, before I make a decision and choose one for my website.
Test #1 – TelePro
is a UK-based website services company, and on their email form generator page, they provide a very easy and free method to create form-to-email scripts that well let your website visitors contact you through a useful and aesthetically pleasing free contact form.
The submission is one-page on the website with three easy steps. First you provide the “to” and “from” emails, then you create the fields that make up the form, and finally you select the scripting langauge that you would like the form to be generated in. In this case you can choose from ASP, PHP, or Perl (Windows or Linux). Once you submit, you receive the code that you can copy and paste into a PHP, ASP or Perl file right on your website.
In this case there’s a HTML code that you insert into your page, and then there’s a second section for the PHP file that it calls – contact.php. Once you copy the contact.php file into the same tagectory as your index.php file, and embed the HTML into your blog, you’re done! This is what the finished form looks like.
The script automatically calls “ok.htm” on success or “error.htm” on failure. By replacing these pages in contact.php, you can make the script call whichever pages you like. I also found that it’s not easy to resize the fields (such as a long comment field) – you’d have to edit the HTML itself to customize that. Overall ranking for this generator – 3 out of 5 stars.
Test #2 – Email Me Form
I have to say, when I first came across EmailMeForm.com after seeing it mentioned at MakeUseOf, I was impressed by the design of the website alone. Most other form generator sites don’t give the appearance of a high-end professional website. This is the only one I’ve found that does.
This one is a hosted form where the processing takes place on a different server, although you can select to embed the form on your own site so visitors don’t have to leave your web page. Most other similar services offer only a trial period for hosted form services, but EmailMeForm offers a truly free account with a few limitations – you can only have 5 forms and 50 fields max, and a few insignificant features are missing. For your purpose of adding a single form (or 5) to your site – this account will do it all. Once you sign up, you can log into your account to start creating your forms. In the control panel, click on “Create a New Form.”
The wizard steps you through the simple process of creating your customized form. There’s a dropdown list to select from seven useful field types (including a dropdown list – awesome!) – and you can require and/or validate specific fields.
The form is very easy to customize during each step of the wizard, including introduction and conclusion paragraphs, background and font color and more. The thing I like the most about this web form is that it includes a spam-busting Captcha code. Once you’re through the wizard, just paste the code in your website or on your blog (HTML tab) and you’re good to go! This is how the form appears on my blog:
I love the appearance, and the fact that the embedded Captcha will stop those annoying spam submissions. I rate EmailMeForm a 5 out of 5 stars.
Test #3 – Free Contact Form
The website FreeContactForm.com is a misnomer. While it does offer a free “lite” form you can use for very simple forms, it is primarily set up to sell the professional version. However, for my case, where I just want a very simple contact form, the lite version will do. On the free page, just click on “Download Contact Form Lite,” which will download a zip file containing all of the following files.
All you have to do to configure the form script to work on your site is open “lite_settings.php” and substitute “firstname.lastname@example.org” with your correct email address. Then edit the email subject (the email you’ll receive from the form) and what thank you page you’d like to send your visitor to after they submit the form. Save the file, and then FTP all of the files to your website. You can either use contactform.html as your form page, or you can just copy the HTML into your “Contact Me” blog page, which is what I did here.
This form is also very simple and very easy to install. On the positive side, everything is hosted on your own server, and it’s very slimmed down and simple. On the negative side, in order to customize you need to understand at least the basics about PHP – and if you do, you could practically just write this free contact form yourself from scratch anyway. But for beginners who want to learn – it’s a good tool. I give this free tool 4 out of 5 stars.
After testing each of these three free contact form generation tools on my blogs, I’ve decided to go with EmailMeForm simply because I like the professional feel of the site, the fact that I have a cool control panel where I can go to create new forms or customize old ones, and I really don’t need more than 5 forms anyway.
Did I make the right choice? Do you know of any other great, free form generation tools out there? Share your insight in the comments section below!