By: Rocketgenius, Inc.
There are several free as well as premium form plugins for WordPress available to add contact forms, product or subscription forms, surveys, or quizzes to your front-end websites.
Though there is the option to create forms from scratch, plugins make it a walk in the park compared to the former option. The popularity of form plugins for WordPress started with Contact Forms 7 for contact forms, and now there are numerous free as well as premium form plugins for WordPress.
Apart from base features, many form plugins for WordPress provide utility-specific add-ons for payments, email marketing, SEO and data analysis, e-signatures, and some advanced form features.
One of the premium plugins for WordPress with its fair share of add-ons is Gravity Forms. It is available in three premium plans and has no free version. But it offers a one-week demo with some demo forms to modify and test the plugin.
Also, note that the actual Gravity Forms plugin will only work with WordPress Business Plan Subscription if you wish to embed forms on your WordPress.com hosted website. It is so because other lower-priced plans on WordPress.com don’t allow to add user plugins.
The add-ons available are based on the subscription plan you opt for with many add-ons exclusive to higher plans. But you can test all of the Gravity Forms add-ons with the demo version. This does not include mail functions which require you to install SMTP plugin or some other mail service plugin like Mailgun and SendGrid.
Before we go any further with our discussion of the Gravity Forms plugin for WordPress, let’s have a brief look at some of its notable features which are as follows:
So, we signed up for the Gravity Forms’ one-week demo by filling out a form on its website. Gravity Forms provides you a demo WordPress admin, and user links to test out the WordPress Plugin. These links expire post the demo period and are only for the user’s perusal.
Upon signing up for the demo, your demo admin link will be loaded in a new browser tab. Here to access the Gravity Forms plugin, go directly to the Forms tab in the sidebar, and it will drop down into other options.
The Forms sections of your demo WordPress back-end admin has the following options: New Form, Entries, Settings. Import/Export, Add-ons, System Status, and Help.
There is also a Forms menu option in your demo WP admin’s menu bar. Here are listed some demo forms which Gravity Forms provides with your demo trial to try out the product, and All forms and New Form options.
To see the list and details of the demo forms or all your saved forms got to Forms in the sidebar or select All Forms option from top menu bar’s Form menu. As seen below, it is the storage and access area for your saved forms. It shows all the forms with their ID, views, entries, and conversion details.
It also has a toggle to deactivate and activate selected forms, search function, option to apply Bulk Actions to mark as active or de-active, sent to the trash, reset views, and permanently delete the entries for selected forms.
Hover over the Form name text in the list to access the hover options of Edit, Settings, Entries Preview, Duplicate, and Trash. You can choose to edit, change settings, manipulate form entries, preview the form, duplicate or delete it.
Let’s see how to go about creating a new form for your front-end WordPress site using Gravity Forms in the following section.
There are two links to develop a new form with Gravity Forms – first is from the sidebar options under the Forms tab, and other is from the Forms menu on the top main menu of dome WP admin.
Click New Form link from any of the two locations and “Create New Form” dialog box will appear. Enter the Form name and description before clicking the Create Form button to load the Form editor.
It reloads the page which now has form editing options to add and edit fields to your form. On top, it shows the chosen name of your new form and the form’s unique ID which will be used as a reference to the form within Gravity Forms plugin and the WordPress back-end. Click on the drop-down icon next to form name to switch to edit any other of your saved forms.
As can be seen in the picture above, the Gravity Form’s editor blends in within the WordPress backend and even has a five-step guide to get you going.
Adding and editing content to your form is indeed as easy as the five steps of the guide – Choose to add form fields from the field options; select the field; choose the edit options; rearrange the fields by dragging and dropping them over each other, and save your form.
The form fields options are located to the right and are categorized as Standard, Advanced, Post, and Pricing fields. There are currently, in total forty-two fields including:
You can select any of the desired fields from the listed fields in four sections on the right of the editor space.
Select the desired field to edit, and it will collapse to show you the options to edit. The edit options for each field are divided into General, Appearance, and Advanced categories.
The common General edit options for most fields are Field label name and description and Required check-box. Other edit settings under General options vary with the type of field; for example, Multi Select filed has options to enter choices and choose to show their value.
Similarly, some common Appearance edit options for most fields are Field Label Visibility to hide label or use form setting, Description Placement – Below or Above inputs, Custom Validation Message to override default error validation, Custom CSS Class to enter a predefined CSS theme for the filed to override the default theme, and Filed Size – Small, Medium, and Large.
There might be some additional options like the placement of sub-level or other relevant to the selected filed in the Appearance tab.
Under the Advanced tab of the edit, options are pre-population, Conditional logic, Visibility – Visible, Hidden, or Administrative, and Admin filed label.
As mentioned in the last step of the five-step guide, don’t forget to click the Update button at the bottom to save the changes to your form, or you may choose to Cancel to discard changes. Also, there is a link to send the form to trash directly.
So, after that brief description of the form editing features that the Gravity Forms WordPress plugin provides, let’s try to evaluate them. Firstly, one must note that Gravity Forms provides no template options for forms, apart from a few demo forms with the demo version.
The editor itself blends with the WordPress backend and adopts as best possible the forms to the theme defined for your WordPress sites. There are also no font or background options in the editor.
Although if the user wishes, he can change the theme for individual fields by specifying the Custom CSS Class name to apply, but this option is also not applicable to all fields.
The form fields, on the other hand, don’t fail to impress in variety and functionality. The range of fields is on par with some of the best stand-alone form apps like Formstack with options to add pages, sections, surveys, and HTML blocks.
Now, having seen the form creating and editing options, let’s move on the next feature is an important criterion to rate the form app. We are talking about the form and associated settings.
Up till now, we worked under the Edit tab of the Gravity Forms’ main menu options on top, which consist of Edit, Settings, Entries, and Preview tabs.
To access settings relates to form, a confirmation message, notifications, and other settings, one must choose the appropriate option from the Settings tab right next to the Edit tab from the menu options.
Let’s check out what options do we have under Form settings by selecting the option for same from the Settings menu drop-down.
The settings option here are categorized under headers named Form Basics, Form Layout, Form Button, Save and Continue, and Form Options with options like changing form name and description, form button options, enabling restrictions on no. of entries, and more.
Notable options here are to enter CSS Class Name, Conditional logic for Form Button, Enable Save and Continue, Schedule Form, and Animated transitions option to enable a sliding animation while showing or hiding conditional logic fields.
After enabling and applying the requisite form settings, the user must not forget to click on the Update Form Settings button to save the changes made.
After form settings, the next settings option in the settings menu is that for Confirmation. Under the Confirmation settings, the user can edit the default confirmation message or add custom confirmation with conditional logic.
There are three radio options for confirmation type – Text, Page, and Redirect. Each radio option has its own set of settings like for Text option; there is a textbox to enter and format custom message, and Redirect Query String and URL link options for Page and Redirect.
Next in the line of Setting options is the Notification settings, with an option to edit, duplicate, or delete default Admin notification or define other custom notifications with conditional logic.
For any notification user can define recipient email ID by entering email, selecting from form fields’ drop-down or define whom to send a notification based on conditional logic under Configure Routing option.
Other relevant setting options available are Personal Data settings and User Registration setting. The Personal Data settings include disabling IP address storage during submission, and retention policy to define how long to retain form entries.
Under User Registration settings, the admin can use form entries to create user feeds or add users to existing user feeds based on the user’s response to form fields by using conditional logic.
For example, you can create three user feeds named Desktop, Mobile, and Television to segregate users based on their preferred mode of content access.
There is also an option to create post feeds for your WordPress front-end site using form entries of your Request Post forms. To develop such post feeds, go to the Post Creation tab under the Settings menu and fill in the required details like feed name, post title, message, categories, tags, etc.
You can source data for these feeds from the entries for Posts fields in your form, and even apply conditional logic.
User Registration and Post Creation settings are the featured addition of settings due to User Registration and Post Creation add-on that are active by default in the demo version of Gravity Forms.
Other settings options are related to linking the form data to add-ons like PayPal, Stripe, and Zapiers, or any other active add-on, and an option to enable Partial Submissions.
The last two options on the Gravity Forms’ main menu are Entries and Preview. As their names suggest, these options show a sheet of entries, associated sort options and provide a preview of our form, respectively.
After the creation of form and application of settings, you can have a preview of your form by clicking on the Preview (eye) icon to load the form in a new browser tab. One must keep in mind that the preview is only indicative and actual form after embedment on your site may look different.
Now let’s have a look at the Entries sections, as shown below:
The layout and options in the entry section are the same as that of the Forms section with the difference being that instead of form details, the rows of the sheet here display details of form entries.
Like the Forms section, here to there are conditional filtering and Bulk Action features. The bulk Actions listed in the drop-down are marked as read/unread, Add/Remove star, resend notification, print, and trash.
To change the column fields of the entries shown in the sheet, click on the small cog-wheel settings icon next to the column headers, and add or remove featured fields by dragging and dropping form fields between active and inactive field columns in the pop-up settings box shown in the picture below.
An important and unique feature which is available only with a few form apps – be it plugins or stand-alone applications is the option to view single entries. To view, any particular entry hover over its index column, i.e., the first column in entries grid and click on view option.
It will load the details of that particular entry, as shown in the image below.
As can be seen, the left window pane shows user responses for selected fields and a notes section at the end to enter notes about that particular entry for WordPress Admin and other users reference.
The right pane shows the metadata for the entry like Entry ID, Submission date, User IP (if settings option to disable IP collection is not disabled), and some others. There is also an option to resend the notification to a limited no. of email IDs, thus overriding the Notification settings, and an option to view or edit created posts for that entry if any.
For advanced analytics, one can take help of any of the Zaps available as a part of Zapier’s integration.
But, even with Entries menu option, one can choose the fields to include in the entries sheet and filter entries using conditional logic
Using the Import/Export option in the sidebar under the Forms tab, one can even export the Form Entries data in .csv format.
For this, go to Import/Export option in the sidebar under the Forms tab and then select Export Entries tab, and choose the form, whose entries data you want to export. This will present a multi checklist of form fields to include in your entries data.
You can choose to select form fields and even metadata like Entry ID, submission date, Payment Status, and more. Moreover, there is also a conditional logic (as is the norm with any setting of Gravity Forms) and date range features.
Also available here are the tabs to export selected forms and import older saved forms in “.JSON” format.
Add-ons or integrations are an inherently important part of form apps or any modern web service for that matter. The integrations – built-in or third party adds multiple dimensions to what your forms can achieve.
Some of the in-built add-ons that are available as part of the one-week demo of Gravity Forms are Advanced Post Creation, Chained Selects, Coupons, Partial Entries, Polls, Quiz, Signature, and Survey Add-ons.
To check out all the in-house and third-party add-ons, go to the Add-ons tab in the sidebar under Forms. This section lists in grid-icons form over forty add-ons in total. One can check the red-green boxes under the icons to see if a particular add-on is installed and active or not and choose to activate, deactivate, install, or uninstall it.
Some noteworthy third-party integrations are MailChimp, Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, ActiveCampaign, Dropbox, Emma, Mailgun, SendGrid, Trello, Zoho CRM, and of course Zapier.
So, as can be seen, the Add-ons section is vibrant and offers additional value in terms of enhancing form capabilities. The only catch is that the add-ons are divided into three tiers just like Gravity Forms subscription plans, and you must upgrade to use a particular add-on you want if it’s not a part of your plan.
Customer/User support is an integral part of any service, be it software or otherwise. Good user support builds trust in the market and can provide an edge to the service provider in today’s time of extreme market competition.
Gravity Forms lets its users down with user support. The Help section in the sidebar only offers a categorized list of links to the documentation section of Gravity Forms’ website.
The product website’s support page has an option to generate a support ticket and links to support resources. The support timings are the working hours as per US Eastern Time and may cause a delay in response for overseas users.
Also, ticket based support is only available to the licensed and verified customer. So if you are on the demo trial and have a query, you must rely on documentation support.
Though Gravity Forms is an easy to use WordPress plugin and there are text resources available, still the Gravity Forms developers must work on at least making some video tutorials.
Most web form apps and other software services provide getting started videos and video tutorial sections. Gravity Forms team must pay attention to the User Support area, and provide email support even for the demo version.
An email conversation can clear any doubts a potential user might have, more precisely and clearly than any amount of support articles ever will.
We have reviewed a few form apps in the past, but Gravity Forms is the first WordPress plugin form application we have got our hands on.
One must keep in mind the difference between a stand-alone app and a plugin while drawing any comparisons, but a form app is a form app, and when it comes to basics, parallels can always be drawn.
Gravity Forms does not provide any templates for its forms per se. The demo does come with few demonstration forms to check, tweak, and play with, but no templates whatsoever.
Though it is a WordPress plugin and does not even offer a standalone product, we have heard of some form plugins which do provide templates, and Gravity Forms need to buck up.
The Form Editor is a blend-in with WordPress kind of a deal with Gravity Forms, and though satisfactory on the form fields front, offers very little in terms of design and themes customization.
Gravity Forms adapts to your selected WordPress theme and font styles. And though there is a Custom CSS Class option with specific form fields, it is not satisfactory for users wanting to customize how their forms look.
It might at first thought, believing in the argument that being a plugin for WordPress, it is only fitting that GravIty Forms adapts to its ambiance seem justifiable, but giving it more thought would make it look more like a lazy excuse.
Design themes and style options might alienate the forms with respect to where it’s posted if set by amateur users. But that can’t serve as an excuse of robbing other users of a chance to personalize their forms by adding brand elements.
Plus, given the Export Forms feature, it makes all the more sense as the forms created with Gravity Forms’ WordPress plugin can be downloaded and used elsewhere.
That’s enough of our rant with “no themes”. Coming to form and associated settings, we can’t complain here.
With constraints of a plugin, Gravity Forms have managed to provide customization settings on par with some of the best in class stand-alone form apps’ business tiers versions. A feat we hope it had replicated with its reports and analysis.
There is nothing to complain about Form Entries report section. In fact, it has some unique features like resending notification, including some more recipients, and option to view individual entries along with its metadata.
What’s missing is the visual element – Charts, timelines, etc. Also, there is no significant data analytics tool as part of an add-on. Some marketing tools may provide data analytics for lead conversion and all but a dedicated analytics add-on, or a robust in-house tool would have given Gravity Forms an edge over the competition.
Some other features of its WordPress plugin status, which we encountered are Post creation tools like Posts Fields and Post Creation Feeds settings option. It allows the website owner or controller to ask its viewers/visitors to make posts on the website via a Guest Posts form without allowing them access to the site’s back-end.
The user can set conditional logic to filter out unsuitable posts and only allow specific content to be posted by levying conditions on Posts form fields, and exercising control of Post Feeds settings.
We are impressed by this Post Creation options available as a part of Advanced Post Creation add-on of Gravity Forms. It helps to create viewer loyalty by allowing viewers and visitors to post on your website while still giving you enough control over the posts.
Another such plugin specific tool is the User Registration add-on suite whereby you can create an automated User Feed to categorize your users based on their responses to particular fields of the User Registration form.
We can go on and on with Gravity Forms, but we must conclude our review here. So, what is our opinion of the all so popular WordPress form plugin – Gravity Forms?
Gravity Forms is quite popular among WordPress users and rightfully so. It has all the tools to create contact forms, user surveys, quizzes and empower forms with payments, customizable form entries sheet, customized notifications, etc. So, it is safe to say that Gravity Forms with a few of its in-house add-ons makes up a complete forms app.
There are also some tools specifically for WordPress users and bloggers like Posts fields, and Advanced Posts Add-on which enables you to create “Make Your Post” forms for your site’s visitors, automatically filter out the objectionable entries, and post relevant ones.
Another notable feature is that of the User Registration Add-on to automate your user feeds by applying Conditional Logic to collect relevant data and categorize users into various User feeds.
Also, with options like surveys and quizzes, you can always keep your visitors or users engaged, thus maintaining traffic.
Gravity Forms plugin adapts your forms to your WordPress theme, leaving only a little room for customization which is a bit of a drawback if you want more customization with theme, color, and font of your forms.
The user support with Gravity Forms is very lulled as we have already mentioned at length before.
Gravity Forms offers no form templates, but with its one-week demo, the user gets some pre-made forms which can be edited to suit your needs.
All WordPress websites and users are different in taste, style, and approach, and no one forms plugin can satisfy all preferences. But, Gravity Forms provides for forms that adapt to your WordPress theme as best as possible.
Lastly, we conclude by saying that test out the Gravity Forms plugins demo to check if it fits the bill for what you are looking for in terms of the forms for your WordPress site before opting for one of its paid subscriptions.