A Look at The Best WordPress Contact Forms
No site is complete without having a contact form of some kind on it. Whether you use it for lead generation, user submitted content, or just to have people stop and say hello, having a form visitors can easily fill out to send you a message is crucial. WordPress is privileged to have an amazing selection of contact forms, both free and paid, that serve the purpose. But, not all contact forms are created equal. Let’s dive into the best WordPress contact forms and look into their features (and price).
Jetpack Contact Form
If you use Jetpack, you have a contact form plugin already installed and ready to go. If you don’t use Jetpack, there are tons of other modules you could get use out of besides the contact form that make it worth installing.
As far as contact forms go, however… it’s fairly basic. When you click on the “Add Contact Form” you’re presented with a bare-bones vanilla contact form.
If there’s any MAJOR gripe I have about Jetpack’s contact form, it’s the usability. You have to click on a link in the right-side text to add any new fields. It’s not intuitive at all, and I know a lot of people who are frustrated just because of that fact alone.
That said, it does offer the bare basic functionality – the ability to take a person’s information. Furthermore, it stores the forms in a database – something that a majority of the other free forms do not do.
Pros: Free; Already Installed if you use Jetpack; Stores Contacts in Database
Cons: Horrible Usability, Bare-Bones Field Types
Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is considered by most to be the “creme-de-la-creme” of WordPress contact forms. It’s fairly powerful, as far as free plugins goes, but the real challenge comes in when you open your first contact form:
Holy HTML code, Batman! You have to have a cursory knowledge of HTML code to use Contact Form 7, and (once again) the interface is not that intuitive. To make a new field, you have to generate the tag for it, copy it into the left-hand side. THEN, you have to take the corresponding “mail tag” and drop it into the response. If you want a contact form that “just works” without a lot of tinkering, Contact Form 7 may not be for you.
But then, you start to learn how it all flows together. And you realize that Contact Form 7 is extremely powerful. I actually like the fact that the whole form is coded in HTML – it means that I can do some crazy design stuff and stick to the template layouts I create. I’ve had forms that are responsive and still completely coded within the bounds of Contact Form 7 – a feat in and of itself I’ve not been able to duplicate with any other form software.
Information from Contact Form 7, however, is NOT stored in the database – this is an email only form… best plan accordingly.
Pros: Powerful; Lots of Extensions; Extremely Customizable
Cons: High Learning Curve; Must Know Some HTML to Operate the Form; Information is NOT stored in Database
Ninja Forms is the “dark horse” in our survey. It’s the newest of the plugins, and yet the dev team behind Ninja Forms has taken the WordPress community by storm with both Ninja Forms and the Ninja Demo (which revolutionizes how theme stores do “demo sites”). Seeing as how this is the one I’ve used the least, I took it out for a test drive on my new podcast website (Binary Podcast). From what I’ve found, it has the potential to be one of the best WordPress Contact Forms out there.
You get a contact form created for you when you install the plugin – which is a great way to get started quickly. I also like how they give you both the shortcode and template function to display the form (props for using a conditional in case you decide to deactivate it later).
The form builder itself is fairly powerful, and is styled like the WordPress Widgets screen, so typical WordPress users will at least have a cursory idea of what’s going on. You can drag and drop the various types of fields over to the right side, then click on them to set their settings individually.
Compared to the other form plugins, this one is the most powerful while retaining the ease-of-use factor that makes these plugins either rise or fall. I highly recommend this one. In fact, it’s only missing ONE key element…
Pros: Easy to use, lots of field choices
Cons: Can’t fully customize design
Ah, Gravity Forms. The 800-lb “paid plugin” gorilla in the room – and for good reason. Gravity Forms is the de-facto standard by which most WordPress contact form plugins are measured. They were one of the first “paid” WordPress plugins that were absolutely successful, and there’s an entire ecosystem of developers that specialize in doing work with Gravity Forms. So, what makes it so powerful? Well, I’ll be brutally honest here: there’s only two main things that cause Gravity Forms to stand out from the crowd: conditional form logic, and the extensions.
Conditional form logic means that certain form elements only show up once another form element has a certain answer. Only want the price to show up if the user selects an “upgrade”? No problem. Want one form answer to redirect to one person’s email, and another answer to a second user? Easily done with Gravity Forms. Sure, you could do this with any of the other forms with jQuery and some knowhow, but Gravity Forms does it out of the box, and does it well.
The extensions available for Gravity Forms are absolutely fantastic. There is a drawback – you have to have a business license to use their “basic” add-ons, and a developer account for their “advanced” add-ons, but most of the time if you need those add-ons, you are working for a company that doesn’t mind paying for the functionality to work nearly out of the box. Add-ons include anything from payment gateways to allow purchases straight from the form to integration with 3rd party services such as Salesforce and even user registration straight from the form.
Pros: Easy to use, Extremely Powerful, Conditional Logic, Lots of great Add-Ons
Cons: Not Free, Add-Ons require higher price point
Price: $39 (Personal), $99 (Business), $199 (Developer)
My Recommended WordPress Contact Forms
All in all, I’d say that Ninja Forms is going to do 99% of whatever you want to do with a contact form, but if you absolutely need that last 1% then Gravity Forms is a no-brainer. In two years, this may all change as Ninja Forms continues to upset the contact form scene, but until then Gravity Forms remains the king – with good reason.