After the Form Is Complete
For basic "contact us" type of forms, you'll want to display some type of confirmation text after the Submit button is clicked. This reassures the user that you received the information. Below is an example of basic confirmation verbiage:
Your form has been successfully received!
Your information is being forwarded to the appropriate staff immediately. If additional information is necessary, or if a reply is appropriate, we will contact you via e-mail or telephone within 24 hours.
By openly stating your policy, you help manage user expectations so that they will be satisfied with the response (or lack thereof).
For more "important" forms, there are an extra steps to consider.
Let Users Change Their Answers
Examples of more important forms are job applications, membership applications, or sales of any type. For these types of forms, you'll want to begin the completion phase by displaying a summary of the information the user provided on the form (whether single or multiple pages). You'll also want to allow the user to change answers before clicking the Submit button.
When the user acknowledges the entries provided and clicks the Submit button, you can display the confirmation message, discussed previously.
These tips should help you improve the quality of your Web forms. If you have any suggestions for improving this article, as well as comments or questions, feel free to contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.