It’s hard to surf the web nowadays without coming across an online form in some shape or another.
There are Contact Forms, Order Forms, Enquiry Forms, Signup Forms, Questionnaires, Surveys, and more.
They offer a direct way of capturing information because you can ask for particular details rather than just saying, “Send us a message.”
But how do you create and manage these types of form on your WordPress site?
Well unless you’re a developer, then installing a form builder plugin is your best bet.
But, which one? There are plenty of free and premium form builder plugins available.
To help you decide, we’re going to take a look at two excellent form builder plugins for WordPress.
One is well-established, while the other is the new kid on the block. Both are robust and offer plenty of features, whether you’re a beginner or a pro.
Let’s see how they stack up.
WPForms was launched in March 2016 by Syed Balkhi (WPBeginner and OptinMonster) and Jared Atchison. Their aim was to create a WordPress form plugin that’s both easy and powerful. And that’s exactly what they’ve done.
What we love about WPForms
The user interface
The first thing I have to say about WPForms is that it is easy to use. Once you’ve installed the plugin and activated your license key, you can create your first form within a few minutes.
Start with one of the ready-made templates or the blank form and then use the drag and drop builder to customize it.
Let’s take the Simple Contact Form as an example. When you select the form template it opens a simple contact form:
You could use the form as is; it has all the required fields for a contact form. But you can also add more fields (Standard or Fancy) from the lefthand menu. Clicking on Multiple Choice places it at the foot of the form:
Then rearrange them on your form with the drag and drop builder. Here I’ve moved the Multiple Choice field above the Comment field:
Once you have added all the fields you want, then you can configure them.
Taking the Multiple Choice field as an example, you could
- Change the Label; e.g. from Multiple Choice to Select one of the following
- Modify the Choices; e.g. from First Choice to Consultation
- Check the Required box to place an asterisk after the field description
The Advanced Options let you refine the field further. In this example I’ve switched the Choice Layout from one column to three columns:
Once your form is looking good, you can work on some settings behind the scenes. There are three areas to configure.
- General – Where you can change the form name and enable the Anti-Spam HoneyPot
- Notifications – Where you can choose where email notifications will go. If you enable the Conditional Logic Add-on, then you can specify different email recipients for each of the multiple choice selections. For example, you could specify that Consultation emails went to <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Confirmation – Where you can select one of three options:
- Displaying a simple message once a form has been submitted
- Displaying a specific Page on your website after submission
- Redirecting to a specified URL upon submission
When you’ve finished with your settings, save your form. You can add it to any WordPress page with a shortcode.
And it looks like this:
Note: This is how it displays using the WordPress TwentySixteen theme. Your forms will take on your theme properties.
The extended functionality
WPForms certainly has a Beginner Friendly user interface. And the standard functionality is more than adequate to get you started.
But there are also plenty of other advanced features included in the Basic package:
- Multipage Forms – Split long forms into multiple pages to improve user experience
- Conditional Logic – Create smart forms with conditional logic like email notifications
- Spam Protection – Add smart captcha and honeypot to prevent spam submissions
- File Uploads – Allow users to upload files and media with their form submissions
- Entry Management – View all your form submissions in one place
- Custom CSS – Add custom CSS to format your forms appearance
- Custom Captchas – Add custom questions and math captcha
Learn more about the advanced functionality in our WPForms Review.
The add-ons management
WPForms uses Add-ons so that you only have to install the features you need. For example, if you want to use Conditional Logic, you install and activate the Add-on:
Add-ons are used as a differentiator in each of the pricing levels.
The Plus license gives you the Marketing module that includes add-ons for the following email service providers:
- Campaign Monitor
The Pro package has the Payments Plus module and includes add-ons for:
- User Registration
- Login Form
- Zapier Integration
- Post Submissions
You can learn more about collecting payments with WPForms in our featured tutorial: How To Setup An Order Form For Your Services With WordPress.
What we don’t love about WPForms
The marketing add-ons are limited
The marketing add-ons module only integrates with four email service providers (see above).
WPForms needs to extend the range of integrations to bring it on a par with other WordPress form builder plugins.
The pricing bundles are not flexible
It would be great to have a flexible pricing package where you could select exactly which add-ons you wanted.
For example, if you wanted your forms to integrate with AWeber and PayPal you’d have to buy the add-ons for three other email providers and one other payment processor that you don’t use.
WPForms has three annual subscription plans and one-lifetime plan.
The annual packages include support and updates for one year and start at $39. You’ll need to choose other packages to enjoy the add-on modules.
The Ultimate Lifetime plan gives you the option to make a one-off payment rather than renewing annually and includes all future updates
Everything in Pro, plus Premium Support and Lifetime Updates.
Lite Version: Free
WPForms also has a lite version of its plugin, which basically restricts the use to a simple contact form. For example, there are no Fancy fields and add-ons like the conditional logic.
Gravity Forms is a mature WordPress plugin and claims to be the easiest tool to create advanced forms for your website.
Originally it was used for contact forms, but now you can use it for WordPress post creation, calculators, employment applications, and more.
What we love about Gravity Forms
The broad range of add-ons
Gravity Forms has a much broader range of add-ons than WPForms. They are divided into two sets:
- Basic Form Add-Ons are available with a valid Business & Developer License.
- Advanced Form Add-Ons are only available with a valid Developer License.
(No Add-Ons are currently available for the Personal License.)
The Basic Add-Ons contain nine email marketing service integrations:
- Campaign Monitor
- Mad Mimi
However, there are some integrations with specific email marketing services, such as ConvertKit, Constant Contact, and MailPoet, that are provided via free plugins. It’s worth checking the WordPress repository to see what’s available to you.
The Advanced Add-Ons integrate with several payment processors:
- PayPal Payments Standard
- PayPal Payments Pro
- PayPal Pro
And then a whole lot more applications:
- Agile CRM
- Capsule CRM
- Help Scout
- Partial Entries
- User Registration
- Zoho CRM
The customization options
Gravity Forms has more options for customizing forms and fields, which gives you greater control over how and what is displayed. Let’s take a look.
For instance, the Multiple Choice field in WPForms has a default three choices, which you can increase or decrease. Gravity Forms has the same. But it also allows an “Other” choice to be added:
This is useful for users who have a request outside of your pre-defined choices. For example, if you had options for Sales, Services, and Support, you could add the Other option as a catch-all:
Gravity Forms has three Settings tabs:
- Form settings
The Confirmation and Notifications tabs have similar settings to WPForms. But the Form Settings has more options.
For instance, the Restrictions section allows you to restrict the number of form submissions or schedule when a form will display:
Here are two examples where you could use these settings.
(1) Limit entries: Running a contest and only want to accept limited entries each day/week/month/year?
You can limit how many entries a form will accept and display a custom message when that limit is reached:
(2) Schedule forms: Only want a form available for a limited period of time?
You can set a start and end date to limit access to the form and display a custom message when the form has expired:
What we don’t love about Gravity Forms
The user interface is outdated
The user interface in Gravity Forms is not as user-friendly as WPForms. Sure you can build the same type of forms, but the form builder and menus don’t flow.
For instance, let’s create a contact form.
First, there are no templates; you can only start with a blank form:
Then you get an annotated form builder area with arrows pointing in different directions. There is no clear demarcation between the menu items and form builder area; some color differentiation would help:
You select fields from the right-hand side, which seems odd to me. I find it more natural to go from left to right.
The field editing is similar to WPForms except you work on the main page rather than a side menu to configure.
Overall, this interface looks outdated compared to WPForms.
The pricing bundles are not flexible
Like WPForms, it would be great to have a flexible pricing package where you could select exactly which add-ons you wanted. Unfortunately, Gravity Forms has the same type of pricing structure where you get bundles of add-ons.
Like WPForms, Gravity Forms has three identical annual price plans.
The annual packages include support and updates for one year and start at $39. You’ll need to choose the Business or Developer packages to benefit from the add-on modules.
The user interface of WPForms is much better than Gravity Forms. It’s much easier to navigate, and there’s a natural flow to creating your forms. You also get a set of handy form templates to get you up and running.
Gravity Forms has been around longer, and the user interface looks dated. However, it has considerably more third-party integrations available than WPForms, and it’s more suited for developers who want more advanced customization options.
There is no clear winner here.
The pricing is identical for the three levels of annual subscriptions. The only difference is that WPForms offers the free Lite version and the Ultimate Lifetime plan.
If you want to up your game from a simple contact form, then WPForms is the best place to start. But if you want to get into the fine detail then Gravity Forms is better suited.