Best Practices, When Collecting User’s Contact Number

How to collect phone numbers

We all encounter online forms or information boxes where we are asked to fill in our phone numbers. Its a small and yet crucial piece of information for the business. And most importantly, for the user who would be sharing his/her most critical and private information with you.

As a business you need to ensure that the user provides you the information without hesitation and inconvenience. Any doubt in the users mind and he/she would totally avoid making that commitment. So what is one suppose to do? Here, I would like to focus only on the user interface aspect of the process. Two important aspects of this activity are crucial – ease of user and a good experience.

It’s just a number. It should be easy, right?
Not really! Phone numbers can be provided as just the user connection number or the entire number with the country or region code added in. Even if your system is intelligent enough to understand the number added, the user would not be sure if he has made the entry correctly. He/she would probably not be sure what to add, to start with. There are times when users would want to share their landline number or mobile number. Landline numbers need regional code apart from country code to make it valid. Hence intuitiveness is critical.

Why the need for a good experience experience for giving a number?
A user may know his number, but might not recall the area code or the country code. You should not be assuming that they would. Surprising the user by pre-loading the country code may not bring a smile to their face, but sure will make it a whole lot easier.

There are some scenario’s where the number is important to do business with the user. In such situation, the user is not sure what you would do with your number. To be more specific, would you share the database with other businesses and make life hell for them or tread on their privacy. Instead of having to answer their queries in a FAQ or Privacy policy, it makes more sense to inform the user upfront. Businesses should also be upfront in sharing the reasons why they would like to get the users personal (or professional) contact number. It also is a lot more reassuring if you thank the user once they provide the information with reassurance of privacy.

Phone Number field experience

Offer intuitiveness and experience in phone number entry field.

Note: There are many other aspects of usability and user experience that can be covered. But instead of getting all technical, I just want to highlight the crucial aspects of taking a users phone number. From a technical perspective I would just like to add one point here. Don’t over indulge with code to make a fabulous looking form. If the browser or device does not support the code, the user might not be able to add the number at all. That would be a disaster you should avoid. So, set your priority when getting it implemented on your site. 


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