How to Make a Slick Ajax Contact Form with jQuery and PHP

This tutorial shows you how to build a nice-looking, smooth contact form that visitors can use without having to leave the page they're reading.

How to Make a Slick Ajax Contact Form with jQuery and PHP

Contact forms can be useful way for visitors to contact the owner of a site. They're easy to use, and since they don't expose the site owner's email address in the page, they cut down on spam too.

However, contact forms can also be cumbersome, especially as they're usually on a separate page. The visitor has to visit the contact form page, fill in the details, view yet another response page, and then try to make their way back to the page they were originally reading.

Fortunately, Ajax gives us a way round this problem. By embedding the form in the page, and submitting the form data via Ajax, the user never has to leave the current page. It also provides a smoother experience for the user.

In this tutorial we'll build a nice-looking, embedded Ajax contact form that the user can summon up by clicking a link in the page. Along the way, we'll explore various topics, including:

  • HTML5 form fields
  • How to use fallback techniques to make the form function even if the browser has JavaScript turned off
  • Using CSS techniques to create attractive forms
  • Writing a secure form mailer using PHP
  • Animating page elements with jQuery, and, of course...
  • Using jQuery to make Ajax requests

Before you begin, check out the finished product by clicking the View Demo button above. This opens a new page with some dummy content, and a couple of "Send us an email" links. Click one of these links to display the form.

The demo doesn't actually send an email anywhere, but the finished code in the download is fully functional. To get the code, click the Download Code button above.

Ready? Let's get started!

Step 1: Create the markup

Let's start with the HTML for our page. This includes the form itself — we'll hide it initially using JavaScript when the page loads — and also some dummy content and a couple of "Send us an email" links that will display the form when clicked:

<!doctype html>
<html lang="en">
<head>

<title>A Slick Ajax Contact Form with jQuery and PHP</title>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html;charset=utf-8">

</head>
<body>

<div id="content">

  <p style="padding-bottom: 50px; font-weight: bold; text-align: center;"><a href="#contactForm">~ Send us an email ~</a></p>

  <!-- Content here -->

  <p style="padding-top: 50px; font-weight: bold; text-align: center;"><a href="#contactForm">~ Send us an email ~</a></p>
 
</div>

<form id="contactForm" action="processForm.php" method="post">

  <h2>Send us an email...</h2>

  <ul>

    <li>
      <label for="senderName">Your Name</label>
      <input type="text" name="senderName" id="senderName" placeholder="Please type your name" required="required" maxlength="40" />
    </li>

    <li>
      <label for="senderEmail">Your Email Address</label>
      <input type="email" name="senderEmail" id="senderEmail" placeholder="Please type your email address" required="required" maxlength="50" />
    </li>

    <li>
      <label for="message" style="padding-top: .5em;">Your Message</label>
      <textarea name="message" id="message" placeholder="Please type your message" required="required" cols="80" rows="10" maxlength="10000"></textarea>
    </li>

  </ul>

  <div id="formButtons">
    <input type="submit" id="sendMessage" name="sendMessage" value="Send Email" />
    <input type="button" id="cancel" name="cancel" value="Cancel" />
  </div>

</form>

<div id="sendingMessage" class="statusMessage"><p>Sending your message. Please wait...</p></div>
<div id="successMessage" class="statusMessage"><p>Thanks for sending your message! We'll get back to you shortly.</p></div>
<div id="failureMessage" class="statusMessage"><p>There was a problem sending your message. Please try again.</p></div>
<div id="incompleteMessage" class="statusMessage"><p>Please complete all the fields in the form before sending.</p></div>

</body>
</html>

I've omitted the dummy content in the above code, since it's not relevant to the tutorial.

The form sends its data to a processForm.php script that does the actual emailing. (We'll write this PHP script in a moment.) By setting the form's action attribute to "processForm.php", we ensure that the form is usable even with JavaScript disabled. Later, our JavaScript will read this action attribute so that it knows where to send the Ajax request.

The form itself uses some HTML5 form features such as placeholders, the email field type, and the required attribute to ensure that all the fields have been filled in. We'll also add JavaScript validation for browsers that don't yet support HTML5 validation.

Step 2: Add the CSS

Screenshot of styled form

Now we'll add the CSS to our HTML page in order to style the page and form. The bulk of the CSS positions the form and status messages in the centre of the window, and styles the form and form fields.

<style type="text/css">


/* Add some margin to the page and set a default font and colour */

body {
  margin: 30px;
  font-family: "Georgia", serif;
  line-height: 1.8em;
  color: #333;
}


/* Set the content dimensions */

#content {
  width: 800px;
  padding: 50px;
  margin: 0 auto;
  display: block;
  font-size: 1.2em;
}

#content h2 {
  line-height: 1.5em;
}


/* Add curved borders to various elements */

#contactForm, .statusMessage, input[type="submit"], input[type="button"] {
  -moz-border-radius: 10px;
  -webkit-border-radius: 10px;  
  border-radius: 10px;
}


/* Style for the contact form and status messages */

#contactForm, .statusMessage {
  color: #666;
  background-color: #ebedf2;
  background: -webkit-gradient( linear, left bottom, left top, color-stop(0,#dfe1e5), color-stop(1, #ebedf2) );
  background: -moz-linear-gradient( center bottom, #dfe1e5 0%, #ebedf2 100% );  
  border: 1px solid #aaa;
  -moz-box-shadow: 0 0 1em rgba(0, 0, 0, .5);
  -webkit-box-shadow: 0 0 1em rgba(0, 0, 0, .5);
  box-shadow: 0 0 1em rgba(0, 0, 0, .5);
  opacity: .95;
}


/* The form dimensions */

#contactForm {
  width: 40em;
  height: 33em;
  padding: 0 1.5em 1.5em 1.5em;
  margin: 0 auto;
}


/* Position the form in the middle of the window (if JavaScript is enabled) */

#contactForm.positioned {
  position: fixed;
  top: 0;
  bottom: 0;
  left: 0;
  right: 0;
  margin-top: auto;
  margin-bottom: auto;
}


/* Dimensions and position of the status messages */

.statusMessage {
  display: none;
  margin: auto;
  width: 30em;
  height: 2em;
  padding: 1.5em;
  position: fixed;
  top: 0;
  bottom: 0;
  left: 0;
  right: 0;
}

.statusMessage p {
  text-align: center;
  margin: 0;
  padding: 0;
}


/* The header at the top of the form */

#contactForm h2 {
  font-size: 2em;
  font-style: italic;
  letter-spacing: .05em;
  margin: 0 0 1em -.75em;
  padding: 1em;
  width: 19.5em;  
  color: #aeb6aa;
  background: #dfe0e5 url('images/stamp.jpg') no-repeat 15em -3em; /* http://morguefile.com/archive/display/606433 */
  border-bottom: 1px solid #aaa;
  -moz-border-radius: 10px 10px 0 0;
  -webkit-border-radius: 10px 10px 0 0;  
  border-radius: 10px 10px 0 0;
}


/* Give form elements consistent margin, padding and line height */

#contactForm ul {
  list-style: none;
  margin: 0;
  padding: 0;
}

#contactForm ul li {
  margin: .9em 0 0 0;
  padding: 0;
}

#contactForm input, #contactForm label {
  line-height: 1em;
}


/* The field labels */

label {
  display: block;
  float: left;
  clear: left;
  text-align: right;
  width: 28%;
  padding: .4em 0 0 0;
  margin: .15em .5em 0 0;
  font-weight: bold;
}


/* The fields */

input, textarea {
  display: block;
  margin: 0;
  padding: .4em;
  width: 67%;
  font-family: "Georgia", serif;
  font-size: 1em;
  border: 1px solid #aaa;
  -moz-border-radius: 5px;
  -webkit-border-radius: 5px;    
  border-radius: 5px;
  -moz-box-shadow: rgba(0,0,0,.2) 0 1px 4px inset;
  -webkit-box-shadow: rgba(0,0,0,.2) 0 1px 4px inset;
  box-shadow: rgba(0,0,0,.2) 0 1px 4px inset;
  background: #fff;
}

textarea {
  height: 13em;
  line-height: 1.5em;
  resize: none;
}


/* Place a border around focused fields, and hide the inner shadow */

#contactForm *:focus {
  border: 1px solid #66f;
  outline: none;
  box-shadow: none;
  -moz-box-shadow: none;
  -webkit-box-shadow: none;
}


/* Display correctly filled-in fields with a green background */

input:valid, textarea:valid {
  background: #dfd;
}


/* The Send and Cancel buttons */

input[type="submit"], input[type="button"] {
  float: right;
  margin: 2em 1em 0 1em;
  width: 10em;
  padding: .5em;
  border: 1px solid #666;
  -moz-border-radius: 10px;
  -webkit-border-radius: 10px;  
  border-radius: 10px;
  -moz-box-shadow: 0 0 .5em rgba(0, 0, 0, .8);
  -webkit-box-shadow: 0 0 .5em rgba(0, 0, 0, .8);
  box-shadow: 0 0 .5em rgba(0, 0, 0, .8);
  color: #fff;
  background: #0a0;
  font-size: 1em;
  line-height: 1em;
  font-weight: bold;
  opacity: .7;
  -webkit-appearance: none;
  -moz-transition: opacity .5s;
  -webkit-transition: opacity .5s;
  -o-transition: opacity .5s;
  transition: opacity .5s;
}

input[type="submit"]:hover,
input[type="submit"]:active,
input[type="button"]:hover,
input[type="button"]:active {
  cursor: pointer;
  opacity: 1;
}

input[type="submit"]:active, input[type="button"]:active {
  color: #333;
  background: #eee;
  -moz-box-shadow: 0 0 .5em rgba(0, 0, 0, .8) inset;
  -webkit-box-shadow: 0 0 .5em rgba(0, 0, 0, .8) inset;
  box-shadow: 0 0 .5em rgba(0, 0, 0, .8) inset;
}

input[type="button"] {
  background: #f33;
}


/* Header/footer boxes */

.wideBox {
  clear: both;
  text-align: center;
  margin: 70px;
  padding: 10px;
  background: #ebedf2;
  border: 1px solid #333;
}

.wideBox h1 {
  font-weight: bold;
  margin: 20px;
  color: #666;
  font-size: 1.5em;
}

</style>

<!-- Some IE7 hacks and workarounds -->

<!--[if lt IE 8]>
<style>

/* IE7 needs the fields to be floated as well as the labels */

input, textarea {
  float: right;
}

#formButtons {
  clear: both;
}

/*
  IE7 needs an ickier approach to vertical/horizontal centring with fixed positioning.
  The negative margins are half the element's width/height.
*/

#contactForm.positioned, .statusMessage {
  left: 50%;
  top: 50%;
}

#contactForm.positioned {
  margin-left: -20em;
  margin-top: -16.5em;
}

.statusMessage {
  margin-left: -15em;
  margin-top: -1em;
}

</style>
<![endif]-->

Let's look at some interesting sections of the CSS:

  1. Style for the contact form and status messages
    We give the form and status boxes a nice gentle top-to-bottom gradient using -webkit-gradient and -moz-linear-gradient, and we also add a drop shadow with box-shadow (and its vendor-specific variants). Finally, we give the form and message boxes an opacity of .95 (95%), which makes the page content just show through — a nice subtle effect.
  2. Position the form in the middle of the window (if JavaScript is enabled)
    Initially, we simply place the form inline after the page content. This is so that the form can be used for non-JavaScript-enabled browsers without getting in the way of the content. However, for JavaScript browsers, we want the form to appear in the centre of the window, over the top of the content.

    Our #contactForm.positioned rule does just that. It uses fixed positioning, sets the top, bottom, left and right values all to zero, and ensures that all 4 margins are set to auto. This centres the element both horizontally and vertically in most modern browsers. Later we'll use our JavaScript to add the positioned class to the form.

    We also position the status message boxes in the same way.

  3. The header at the top of the form
    Our form includes a nice "Send us an email..." header with an image of a postage stamp. Our #contactForm h2 rule styles this header. We give the text a large italic style and space the letters out slightly. We also add margin and padding to create space around and inside the header. We use some negative left margin (-.75em) on the header to bypass the padding on the form, so that the header goes right to the left edge of the form. We also set the width of the header to 19.5em so that it exactly matches the width of the form.

    Why -.75em and 19.5em? Because ems cascade, and we've set our font size to 2em. So -.75em actually becomes -1.5em (the width of the form's padding), and 19.5em becomes 39em (the width of the form, minus 1em for the h2's padding). Phew! Maybe I'll use pixels next time... :)

    We also set the heading's colour, give it a dark background, position the postage stamp image in the top right corner, add a thin bottom border, and add curved top corners.
  4. The fields
    We give the input and textarea fields an attractive font, a rounded border using border-radius, and a gentle inner shadow using box-shadow. We also float the field labels left so that they sit alongside the fields. When a field is focused (clicked on or moved to with the Tab key), we give it a blue border and remove the shadow. We also set outline: none to remove the blue outline added by some browsers. Finally, we use the :valid pseudo-class to give correctly completed fields a green background, for those browsers that support HTML5 form validation.
  5. The Send and Cancel buttons
    input[type="submit"] selects the Send Email button, while input[type="button"] selects the Cancel button. We float them right to position them side by side, and add some margin to give them space. We give them a fixed width, and some padding to make them a decent size. We add a rounded border and subtle drop shadow, and specify text and background colours. We also make the buttons slightly transparent (opacity: .7), and make them fully transparent when hovered over to highlight them. We use a CSS transition to fade the opacity slowly. Finally, when the buttons are clicked (:active) we move the shadow inside the buttons to give a "pressed" appearance, and give them a black-on-white colour scheme.

Step 3: Build the PHP form mailer

We've now created our form page, and styled the form. The next step is to build a short PHP script to actually send the email messages. This script will reside on the web server. When the user submits the form, the form's data is sent to the PHP script, which then sends the email and returns a response indicating whether or not the email was sent successfully.

Here's the PHP script — call it processForm.php, and save it in the same folder as the form page you created in Steps 1 and 2:

<?php

// Define some constants
define( "RECIPIENT_NAME", "John Smith" );
define( "RECIPIENT_EMAIL", "john@example.com" );
define( "EMAIL_SUBJECT", "Visitor Message" );

// Read the form values
$success = false;
$senderName = isset( $_POST['senderName'] ) ? preg_replace( "/[^\.\-\' a-zA-Z0-9]/", "", $_POST['senderName'] ) : "";
$senderEmail = isset( $_POST['senderEmail'] ) ? preg_replace( "/[^\.\-\_\@a-zA-Z0-9]/", "", $_POST['senderEmail'] ) : "";
$message = isset( $_POST['message'] ) ? preg_replace( "/(From:|To:|BCC:|CC:|Subject:|Content-Type:)/", "", $_POST['message'] ) : "";

// If all values exist, send the email
if ( $senderName && $senderEmail && $message ) {
  $recipient = RECIPIENT_NAME . " <" . RECIPIENT_EMAIL . ">";
  $headers = "From: " . $senderName . " <" . $senderEmail . ">";
  $success = mail( $recipient, EMAIL_SUBJECT, $message, $headers );
}

// Return an appropriate response to the browser
if ( isset($_GET["ajax"]) ) {
  echo $success ? "success" : "error";
} else {
?>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>Thanks!</title>
  </head>
  <body>
  <?php if ( $success ) echo "<p>Thanks for sending your message! We'll get back to you shortly.</p>" ?>
  <?php if ( !$success ) echo "<p>There was a problem sending your message. Please try again.</p>" ?>
  <p>Click your browser's Back button to return to the page.</p>
  </body>
</html>
<?php
}
?>

This script is fairly straightforward. Let's break it down:

  1. Define some constants
    First we define some config options for the name and email address of the person who will receive the email message. (Change these to your own name and email address.) We also set a subject for the message.
  2. Read the form values
    Next we check for our 3 form fields, senderName, senderEmail and message, in the posted form data. For each field, we check if it exists. If it does then we pass its value through a regular expression to remove any potentially malicious characters that a spammer might try to use, and store the result in a variable. If it doesn't exist then we set the variable to an empty value.
  3. If all values exist, send the email
    If the 3 field values all contain data then we send the email. First we construct the recipient string from the recipient name and email address. Then we add a "From:" header to the message using the name and email address that the visitor entered in the form. This is the "From:" value that the recipient will see in their email program. Finally, we use the PHP mail() function to send the email message, storing the return value in the variable $success. (mail() returns true if it managed to send the email, or false otherwise.)
  4. Return an appropriate response to the browser
    Once we've attempted to send the email, we send a "success" or "error" message back to the browser as appropriate. If the request URL contained an "ajax" parameter then we know the form was submitted via Ajax using our JavaScript code, so we simply return the value "success" or "error" to the JavaScript, which will then display an appropriate message to the user. However, if the form was submitted without using Ajax then the user must have JavaScript turned off in their browser. In this situation, we display a more helpful error message in the browser, with instructions to the user to use their Back button to return to the page.

    Our JavaScript will add the ajax parameter to the URL when it submits the form, as you'll see in Step 6.

    1. Step 4: Include the jQuery library and set the delay

      Our form is actually functional now. You can open the page in a browser, click the "Send us an email" link to jump to the form, fill in the fields, and submit the form to send the message.

      However, we're now going to enhance our form using JavaScript to make the experience nicer for the user.

      We'll use jQuery to do most of the heavy lifting, so the first step is to include the jQuery library in the page's head element:

      <script type="text/javascript" src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.5.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
      

      Here we've linked directly to the jQuery library on Google's CDN, but you can download the library and host it on your own server if you prefer.

      We'll also add a global config variable, messageDelay, to control how long the message boxes appear on the screen. This value is in milliseconds. Feel free to change it to a shorter or longer time:

      <script type="text/javascript">
      
      var messageDelay = 2000;  // How long to display status messages (in milliseconds)
      

      Step 5: Write the init() function

      The first stage of our form-enhancing JavaScript is the init() function. This sets up the form so that it can be shown and hidden on demand, and also modifies the form so that it will be submitted using our JavaScript, rather than sent natively by the browser.

      Here's the code:

      // Init the form once the document is ready
      $( init );
      
      
      // Initialize the form
      
      function init() {
      
        // Hide the form initially.
        // Make submitForm() the form’s submit handler.
        // Position the form so it sits in the centre of the browser window.
        $('#contactForm').hide().submit( submitForm ).addClass( 'positioned' );
      
        // When the "Send us an email" link is clicked:
        // 1. Fade the content out
        // 2. Display the form
        // 3. Move focus to the first field
        // 4. Prevent the link being followed
      
        $('a[href="#contactForm"]').click( function() {
          $('#content').fadeTo( 'slow', .2 );
          $('#contactForm').fadeIn( 'slow', function() {
            $('#senderName').focus();
          } )
      
          return false;
        } );
        
        // When the "Cancel" button is clicked, close the form
        $('#cancel').click( function() { 
          $('#contactForm').fadeOut();
          $('#content').fadeTo( 'slow', 1 );
        } );  
      
        // When the "Escape" key is pressed, close the form
        $('#contactForm').keydown( function( event ) {
          if ( event.which == 27 ) {
            $('#contactForm').fadeOut();
            $('#content').fadeTo( 'slow', 1 );
          }
        } );
      
      }
      

      Let's look at each chunk of the above code:

      1. Init the form once the document is ready
        We use the jQuery object, $, to trigger our init() function once the DOM is ready.
      2. Hide the form, set the submit handler, and position the form
        The first thing we do inside the init() function itself is make some changes to our form, #contactForm.

        First we hide it from the page using the jQuery hide() method. Then we set its submit event handler to our submitForm() function (which we'll write in a moment). This ensures that, when the user submits the form, submitForm() is called instead of the native browser form submission kicking in. Finally, we add the positioned CSS class to the form to reposition it in the centre of the browser window.
      3. Make the "Send us an email" links open the form
        Next we bind an anonymous event handler function to the "Send us an email" links' click events. This function fades out the page content so it's only just visible in the background; fades the contact form in; and sets the focus on the "Your Name" field, ready for the user to start filling in the form. Finally, the function returns false to prevent the links from being followed.
      4. When the "Cancel" button is clicked, close the form
        Now we bind another anonymous function to the "Cancel" button's click event, so that the user can close the form by clicking the button. The function simply fades the form out, and fades the page content back in.
      5. When the "Escape" key is pressed, close the form
        Similarly we bind a function to the contact form's keydown event, so that we can read any key the user presses when they're viewing the form. In this function, we check if the user has pressed the "Escape" key (character code: 27). If they have then we close the form by fading it out, and fading the content in.

      Step 6: Write the submitForm() function

      Screenshot of form buttons

      We've now set up our form so that, rather than being submitted in the usual fashion, it will trigger the submitForm() function when the user submits it. This function needs to do some validation and, if all is well, submit the form data to the PHP script via Ajax.

      Here's the function in full:

      // Submit the form via Ajax
      
      function submitForm() {
        var contactForm = $(this);
      
        // Are all the fields filled in?
      
        if ( !$('#senderName').val() || !$('#senderEmail').val() || !$('#message').val() ) {
      
          // No; display a warning message and return to the form
          $('#incompleteMessage').fadeIn().delay(messageDelay).fadeOut();
          contactForm.fadeOut().delay(messageDelay).fadeIn();
      
        } else {
      
          // Yes; submit the form to the PHP script via Ajax
      
          $('#sendingMessage').fadeIn();
          contactForm.fadeOut();
      
          $.ajax( {
            url: contactForm.attr( 'action' ) + "?ajax=true",
            type: contactForm.attr( 'method' ),
            data: contactForm.serialize(),
            success: submitFinished
          } );
        }
      
        // Prevent the default form submission occurring
        return false;
      }
      

      Here's how the function works:

      1. Store the contact form in a variable
        Since we'll be using it a lot throughout the function, we start off by storing the contact form element in a contactForm variable. This element is available to our function as the this variable, since the function is the event handler for the element's submit event. We wrap the element in a jQuery object to make it easier to work with.
      2. Check all the fields are filled in
        Now we check that each field's value is not empty by using the jQuery val() method on each field.
      3. Display a warning if the form isn't completed
        If 1 or more of the fields are empty, we fade out the form, then fade in the #incompleteMessage div, which contains the "Please complete all the fields..." message. We keep the message there for the time specified by the messageDelay variable, then fade it out again. Once it's faded out, we fade the form back in so that the user can complete it.
      4. Submit the form if it is completed
        Now we get to the meat of the JavaScript. If the form is completed then we first fade out the form, and fade in the "Sending your message..." box. Now we call the jQuery ajax() method to submit the form via Ajax to the PHP script. We pass the following arguments to the method:
        url
        The URL to send the form to. We grab this from the form's action attribute, and append an ajax=true parameter to the query string so that our PHP script knows the form was sent via Ajax, rather than via the usual method.
        type
        The type of request to make ("POST" or "GET"). We grab this from the form's method attribute, which in this case is set to "POST".
        data
        The data to send with the request. For this, we call the jQuery serialize() method on the contact form object. This method takes all the field names and values in the form and encodes the data in a query string. We then pass this string to the ajax() method so it can send the data to the PHP script.
        success
        This is a callback function that will be called once the Ajax request has finished and the browser has received the response from the server. We set this to our submitFinished() function, which we'll write in a moment.
      5. Prevent the default form submission occurring
        Finally, our event handler returns false to prevent the form being submitted in the usual way.

      Step 7: Write the submitFinished() function

      Screenshot of success message

      The last function we need to write is submitFinished(), which is called once the Ajax response from the PHP script has been received by the browser. This function needs to check the response and display a success or error message as appropriate:

      // Handle the Ajax response
      
      function submitFinished( response ) {
        response = $.trim( response );
        $('#sendingMessage').fadeOut();
      
        if ( response == "success" ) {
      
          // Form submitted successfully:
          // 1. Display the success message
          // 2. Clear the form fields
          // 3. Fade the content back in
      
          $('#successMessage').fadeIn().delay(messageDelay).fadeOut();
          $('#senderName').val( "" );
          $('#senderEmail').val( "" );
          $('#message').val( "" );
      
          $('#content').delay(messageDelay+500).fadeTo( 'slow', 1 );
      
        } else {
      
          // Form submission failed: Display the failure message,
          // then redisplay the form
          $('#failureMessage').fadeIn().delay(messageDelay).fadeOut();
          $('#contactForm').delay(messageDelay+500).fadeIn();
        }
      }
      
      </script>
      

      The function works as follows:

      1. Get the response
        jQuery passes the response from the PHP script as an argument to the submitFinished() function. We take this string and pass it through the jQuery trim() method to remove any whitespace.
      2. Fade out the "sending" message
        Next we fade out the "Sending your message..." box by calling the jQuery fadeOut() method.
      3. If email was sent successfully, display a success message
        If the response variable holds the string "success", as returned by our PHP script, then we know that the email was successfully queued for delivery. So we fade in the success message, hold it for a couple of seconds, then fade it out. We also reset the form fields to empty values, in case the user wants to send another message. Finally, once the success message has faded out, we fade the page content back in.
      4. If there was a problem, display a failure message
        If the PHP script returned anything other than "success" then we know there was a problem with the submission, so we display the failure message stored in the #failureMessage div, then fade the form back in so that the user can correct any problems with the form.

      And that's the end of our JavaScript!

      Summary

      We've now built our slick Ajax contact form. Not only does it look good, but it's easy to use, and the visitor can send an email without ever having to leave the page they are reading. Nice!

      Here's the demo again:

      I hope you enjoyed following this tutorial. Feel free to use the code in your own projects if you like. As always, if you have any comments, suggestions or questions on the tutorial, please do post them in the responses below.

      Have fun!

      Learn PHP With Ease!

      Written by Matt Doyle — ELATED's resident Web programming expert — Beginning PHP 5.3 is a complete introduction to PHP, covering everything in these tutorials and lots more besides. Find out how to:

      • Set up PHP on your computer
      • Use strings, arrays, functions and objects
      • Create interactive Web forms
      • Handle cookies and sessions
      • Work with files on the server
      • Build database-driven sites with MySQL
      • Send emails from your scripts
      • Create images on the fly with PHP
      • Work with regular expressions
      • Write robust, secure PHP applications

      ...and lots more!

      “What a pleasure it's been spending hours and hours studying PHP with this magical book.” — Lulio, Florida
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      Responses to this article

      20 most recent responses (oldest first):

      12-Jan-13 06:41
      On your demo page the modal doesn't close when clicking the escape key - doesn't work on my page either

      Any simple fix? Close outside solution would be nice too. 'Slick' form indeed otherwise.

      Thx in-advance


      -------------------------------

      Found out how to make clicking outside the form close it.

      // Close the Form when click outside
      $("#subscribeForm").click(function(e) {
      e.stopPropagation(); //stops click event from reaching document
      });
      $(document).click(function() {
      $("#subscribeForm").hide(); //click came from somewhere else
      $('.wrapper').fadeTo( 'slow', 1 );
      });

      Got it from here: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/3314810/jquery-trigger-event-when-click-outside-the-element

      [Edited by freeHat on 12-Jan-13 09:55]
      13-Jan-13 23:07
      @freeHat: Esc key works for me! What browser are you using?
      08-Feb-13 15:31
      Excellent tutorial, works straight out of the box. Am wondering why people are asking about SQL injections considering, uhmm, the form doesn't write to a database!

      Anyways my question to Matt, have no problems with the html, php, and css, but am a newbie to jquery Trying to add an additional field to the form, Phone Number, and it blows the hide and show aspects

      Have simply copied the Name <li> and renamed the variables to contactPhone, increased the form height, and added a check to the js that Phone has been entered.

      Quite perplexing and no doubt something very simple that I am overlooking.

      Thanks in the advance for any help.
      11-Feb-13 02:27
      @Jeff_R: Can you post the URL of your form page with the problem?
      16-Mar-13 11:06
      Hi Matt, This is certainly a slick contact form and its exactly what Im looking for, but I keep on having an issue with the form submit. Specifically, after I fill out the form and submit, I get the error message that there was a "problem sending." However, the email actually goes through. I know some others had this same issue, but I can't find the fix for it. The code I used is identical, from what I can tell, to the one you wrote. I could use a little help.
      Thanks!

      Update: I did a work around. Given the emails were going through, I just tweaked the javascript. Its not the most elegant, but it sure does feel damn good to not get the error message

      if ( response == "success" ) {

      // Form submitted successfully:
      // 1. Display the success message
      // 2. Clear the form fields
      // 3. Fade the content back in

      $('#successMessage').fadeIn().delay(messageDelay).fadeOut();
      $('#senderName').val( "" );
      $('#senderEmail').val( "" );
      $('#message').val( "" );

      $('#content').delay(messageDelay+500).fadeTo( 'slow', 1 );

      } else {

      // Form submission failed: Display the failure message,
      // then redisplay the form
      $('#successMessage').fadeIn().delay(messageDelay).fadeOut();
      $('#senderName').val( "" );
      $('#senderEmail').val( "" );
      $('#message').val( "" );

      $('#content').delay(messageDelay+500).fadeTo( 'slow', 1 );
      }

      [Edited by busseg on 16-Mar-13 12:05]
      02-Apr-13 09:09
      Hi Matt,
      my hosting provider is yahoo and I having a problem receiving email using your form, is there any problem with you php file version and the 5.3.6 version?

      i just don't understand why is not working now?

      i having change anything from your code since i don't know much about php, but since yahoo change to 5.3.6 this problem start happening to me and i can't go back to the php version before!

      any help i will appreciate please?



      <?php
      // Define some constants
      define( "RECIPIENT_NAME", "Name Here" );
      define( "RECIPIENT_EMAIL", "name@example.com" );
      //define( "EMAIL_SUBJECT", "Visitor Message" );

      // Read the form values
      $success = false;
      $conSenderName = isset( $_POST['conSenderName'] ) ? preg_replace( "/[^\.\-\' a-zA-Z0-9]/", "", $_POST['conSenderName'] ) : "";
      $conSenderEmail = isset( $_POST['conSenderEmail'] ) ? preg_replace( "/[^\.\-\_\@a-zA-Z0-9]/", "", $_POST['conSenderEmail'] ) : "";
      $conSenderSubject = isset( $_POST['conSenderSubject'] ) ? preg_replace( "/[^\.\-\_\@a-zA-Z0-9]/", "", $_POST['conSenderSubject'] ) : "";
      $conMessage = isset( $_POST['conMessage'] ) ? preg_replace( "/(From:|To:|BCC:|CC:|Subject:|Content-Type:)/", "", $_POST['conMessage'] ) : "";

      $emailMessage = <<<EOD
      Name: $conSenderName

      $conMessage
      EOD;

      // If all values exist, send the email
      if ( $conSenderName && $conSenderEmail && $conSenderSubject && $conMessage ) {
      $recipient = RECIPIENT_NAME . " <" . RECIPIENT_EMAIL . ">";
      $headers = "From: " . $conSenderName . " <" . RECIPIENT_EMAIL . ">" . "\r\n" . "Reply-to: " . $conSenderEmail;
      $headers = "MIME-Version: 1.0rn";
      $headers .= "Content-type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1rn";
      $success = mail( $recipient, $conSenderSubject, $emailMessage, $headers );
      }
      // Return an appropriate response to the browser
      if ( isset($_GET["ajax"]) ) {
      echo $success ? "success" : "error";
      } else {
      ?>
      <html>
      <head>
      <title>Thanks!</title>
      </head>
      <body>
      <?php if ( $success ) echo "<p>Thanks for sending your message! We'll get back to you shortly.</p>" ?>
      <?php if ( !$success ) echo "<p>There was a problem sending your message. Please try again.</p>" ?>
      <p>Click your browser's Back button to return to the page.</p>
      </body>
      </html>
      <?php
      }
      ?>
      one
      21-Apr-13 08:42
      Hello!

      Can you point me how I can add to form and email body additional field Phone?

      Thank yo!
      29-Apr-13 23:40
      @mbarcala: The PHP code looks OK (although of course you should uncomment the EMAIL_SUBJECT define at the top). What isn't working exactly?

      @one: See:

      http://www.elated.com/forums/topic/5171/#post21905
      http://www.elated.com/forums/topic/5171/#post21909
      28-May-13 10:23
      Hi Matt,

      I have 2 issues for you with your form now

      1- my subject field, display all word together when i receive the email?

      and 2

      yours
      $headers = "From: " . $senderName . " <" . $senderEmail . ">";

      my
      $headers = "From: " . RECIPIENT_NAME . " <" . RECIPIENT_EMAIL . ">" . "\r\n" . "Reply-to: " . $conSenderEmail;


      with your header i can't send any email with this form, alway give me an error message "There was a problem sending your message. Please try again."
      with my i can send the email BUT i can't replay to the senderEmail, it just replay to my self.

      what could be my problem? i'm using yahoo server PHP 5.3.6

      hope you can help to figure out this situation

      Best regards

      mbarcala
      28-May-13 10:24
      Sorry subject field here


      $conSenderSubject = isset( $_POST['conSenderSubject'] ) ? preg_replace( "/[^\.\-\_\@a-zA-Z0-9]/", "", $_POST['conSenderSubject'] ) : "";
      30-Jul-13 10:52
      Hi, this is nice to tutorial
      1)

      My question is how use different language character in form filing like croatian ŠĐČĆŽ, i've been allready tried your suggestion with preg_replace /u but can't accomplish it properly.

      Could you please write where to add /u into this variable:

      $message = isset( $_POST['message'] ) ? preg_replace( "/(From:|To:|BCC:|CC:|Subject:|Content-Type:)/", "", $_POST['message'] ) : "";

      http://croaticainfo.com

      [Edited by cro2013 on 01-Aug-13 09:21]
      13-Aug-13 00:12
      @cro2013:


      $message = isset( $_POST['message'] ) ? preg_replace( "/(From:|To:|BCC:|CC:|Subject:|Content-Type:)/u", "", $_POST['message'] ) : "";
      06-Jan-14 11:39
      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for the nice form! One thing has me puzzled, though. If I submit the form without filling in the name I get the message:

      ! Please fill out this field

      But this is not the incompleteMessage and, in fact, this message appears before

      function submitForm()

      is even entered. A search through all of your files doesn't even find "Please fill out this field". So where is this message coming from? What is checking the form at this level, before submitForm() is entered?

      Thanks

      [Edited by toonbon on 06-Jan-14 11:53]
      09-Feb-14 09:22
      Hi,
      I cant send the mail through contactform i got below error always

      There was a problem sending your message. Please try again.

      Click your browser's Back button to return to the page

      . I am not change any code in processform.php. except below one

      <?php

      // Define some constants
      define("RECIPIENT_NAME","krishna");
      define("RECIPIENT_EMAIL","krishna@kirshnam.com");
      define("EMAIL_SUBJECT","Visitor Message");

      // Read the form values


      my webpage jetnet.in
      pls some one help me to fix it

      Thanks
      26-Feb-14 19:37
      @kirshnam

      you are using the wrong version of jqery, this tutorial is using jqery 1.5.1 and in your website you are using jqery 1.6.3, thats why is not working.
      05-Mar-14 05:55
      I have same problem that kirshnam and I use the correct version of jquery.
      I have this problem when I submit the form "No 'Access-Control-Allow-Origin' header is present on the requested resource. Origin 'null' is therefore not allowed access."
      Thanks
      05-Mar-14 11:18
      "Origin 'null' is therefore not allowed access."

      Make sure it has a value then.
      07-Mar-14 09:19
      Hi Matt, and others.

      This is an awesome form and I can't wait to use it, however I'm having 1 issue.

      I'll start by saying all the functions are working to send and receive the emails.

      My issue is the Java Script isnt firing.

      I'm using a wordpress theme.

      I'm placing the script in the header.

      and the <FORM> in the <BODY> . The forum shows up at the end of the body, and when the button is clicked it just instant scrolls down to the #contactForm Class.

      Is there an issue with this script and wordpress?
      07-Mar-14 11:48
      I want to add a field to the email submit.

      I'm able to create the field in the HTML markup but I can't get the field to be included in the email from the PHP

      I tried replicating the $message - and changing all the variables to $phone but I wasn't able to accomplish this.

      Any help would be great! Thanks!
      29-Mar-14 17:35
      Fistly, fantastic script, I've had fun customizing it, very smooth and brilliant.

      I'd like to make the email & name optional, is there a way to do that? I tried removing the "required" aspect, and I also tried editing the php file, removing the name and email from this line:

      if ( $senderName && $senderEmail && $message )

      But not luck. Any suggestions?

      View all 247 responses »

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