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Your First Web Form

Aug 26, 2007
If you have recently established a website for your first internet business, adding a simple web form to your website, such as a feedback form, contact form, or other online form, can be a tough task. Most programming novices create their first website using pre-developed templates and have no advanced knowledge of HTML programming. As a result, creating a simple web form that can email the form responses to the webmaster can be a difficult and frustrating task.

If you just posted a new website, but you do not have a web form uploaded and you need to quickly provide a way for your visitors to contact you, then you should simply post your email address on your Contact page. However, if you want to create a sophisticated online form to collect information from your visitors and respond to their questions, you need to know something about HTML and another programming language called PHP.

Installing the online form on your website is the easy part. If you are not familiar with how to create the code for a form, there are many different online tutorials that can teach you how to create the code. After that, you will need to create a file that will process your form after someone fills it out and send the answers to you via email.

The code used to process a HTML form is often referred to as Formmail. Formmail is written in a programming language called PHP, which is more advanced than HTML. There are many websites where you can download the Formmail file for free. Formmail has been used to process and email the results of web forms since 1997.

When you download Formmail, make sure it has code that prevents spam from being sent through your online form. There are many different versions of Formmail floating around the internet, and some have built-in spam protection while others do not.

Many times, inexperienced programmers will put a form on their website that does not include code to at least try to prevent spammers from utilizing the form to send spam to hundreds or even thousands of people. As a result, those who have been spammed complain to their internet service provider, who then directs the complaint to the hosting company that handles your website. This can be a huge problem.

If you do not have the patience to create your form yourself, there are more than a few form creation services on the internet that provide a simple way for you to create a form without doing any programming. These third-party form creators usually do not provide you with the PHP code you need to process the form. Instead, they process it for you on their own servers.

If you are comfortable with programming, you might want to try to create your web form yourself with the help of some online tutorials. If you do not have the patience to do the work, use an outside service that creates the form for you. Either way, it is important to have an online form so that people can contact you directly through your website.
About the Author
Jim Pretin is the owner of http://www.forms4free.com, a service that helps programmers create a free web form with the code to email the web form responses.
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