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Mailto Vs FormMail - Which Website Feedback Method Is Best?

    Surfing along the web, I may come across your website and feel that I wanted to contact the owner (that's you). Looking through the website I may come across an image or text link entitled 'Contact Us' or 'Email Me'. Normally this link would link to "mailto:whoever@whateverdomain.com", which is normally called a mailto link. And we are going to discuss the disadvantages of the mailto link and an alternative solution.

    What good webmasters do when they make a website, is to check the behavior of the website in different browsers, different resolutions, with and without javascript, etc. So what I am going to do now is test the mailto link with a mail program (ex. Eudora, Outlook) and without it.

    If I had a mail program on my computer and I clicked the link, my mail program would open and create a new message that I can send to you. What I dislike about this is that firstly, my mail program takes time to load and secondly, if I could email InterNIC, Microsoft or Netscape from their websites, why can't I email you from your website.

    Now let's say I don't have a mail program on my computer and I click the link. In Internet Explorer a dialog box pops up saying "Cannot send mail. No mail program is set up to send mail using Internet shortcuts". What does this mean to me (your website visitor)? Well it means that I can't email you, but if I had an online email (ex. Hotmail.com, Usa.net), I could login and then compose a letter to you. But if you think about it, how many people (that includes me) would go through all that, just to email you (very few, believe me).

    So you might want to ask me now, "What can be done about this problem, because I want all my visitors to be able to send me email whether or not they have a mailing program on their computer." You can setup a formmail form (sometimes known as a feedback form) for your website, which is a simple form that will send an email directly from the form to your email. Believe me, you will receive more emails and this will make your website more interactive.

    A formmail form can be made in less than 5 minutes but you also need a cgi-script to email the information to your email. For individuals who have access to a cgi-bin, you can download a free formmail cgi-script from any free cgi-script website. For individuals who don't, you can join a free cgi-service website (they will provide you with a free formmail cgi-script which runs from their website).

    As I have explained above, everyone can add this simple, but necessary feature, to their website. I have included links below for free formmail cgi-script as well as free formmail cgi-service websites.

Free formmail cgi-script
http://worldwidemart.com/scripts/formmail.shtml
http://www.shavenferret.com/scripts/form/frame.shtml
http://www.daviddurose.com/scripts/form.html
http://cgi.tj/scripts/alienform/

Free formmail cgi-service websites
http://www.bravenet.com/samples/emailforms.php
http://www.bytecenter.com/web/
http://www.fido7.com/free-cgi/feedback/
http://freedback.com/

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