I just came across an article by MaoStudios regarding contact forms and web site usability.
In it they advocate using web-based contact forms as opposed to email links.
While I agree with the approach, and with their comments, there's one more thing I think you should consider before implementing such a thing on your own site.
Keep it short and sweet.
Too many times marketing, sales, or someone will start adding fields; requiring names, addresses, phone numbers, email address, products or versions owned, Os versions, subject, topic, category, age, DOB, and/or the user's pet's name. And a capcha of course. All usually under the guise of "getting some information up front."
Resist. Because all that you're doing is throwing roadblocks up in front of your users. Be honest. How many times have you visited a site and wanted to ask a question or leave a quick note or suggestion about some site or product feature, only to be faced with the monster contact form from hell?
Faced with filling out a visually complex form with dozens of fields or leaving, you leave.
Customer contact aborted.
Now, I actually know one or two companies that do this on purpose. They don't WANT to talk to customers, thinking that they have better things to do with their time, and that answering customer questions and email is an expensive waste of time.
But compare this to a place I do work for now that views each customer contact as a opportunity to learn what's happening, what's working, what's not, and what can be done to fix it. Oddly enough, that particular business is thriving, with a steadily expanding and extremely loyal customer base. And according to the numbers, about 40% of those contacts go on to buy more products, many on the spot.
Which would you rather be?
Put a subject dropdown there to make it easy to forward to the right person (feature, bug, request, problem, etc.). Put a text box there for the question. Add an OPTIONAL email address for a response, if needed. And a big button that says "SEND".
That's it. That's all you need.
Sometimes the business wonks will say "Okay, I see your point. Let's make the extra fields optional." Resist that as well, because even optional fields will make a filling out a simple contact form seem like a hassle.
For an example, check out their contact form, and then you tell me. Would YOU take the time to drop them a line or ask a quick question? Would you take the time to parse the form and figure out that you only need to fill in five fields out of the 12 presented?
Or would you just jump to the next site in the Google search to see if they're easier to deal with?
Make contacting your company easy. Your customers will thank you for it, and if I ever visit your site, I'll do the same.