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

WPForms

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.

WPForms Templates

Let’s take the Simple Contact Form as an example. When you select the form template it opens a simple contact form:

WPForms Contact Form

Add fields

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:

WPForms Add Field

Then rearrange them on your form with the drag and drop builder. Here I’ve moved the Multiple Choice field above the Comment field:

WPForms Drag And Drop

Field options

Once you have added all the fields you want, then you can configure them.

WPForms Field Options

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

WPForms field changes

The Advanced Options let you refine the field further. In this example I’ve switched the Choice Layout from one column to three columns:

WPForms advanced options

Settings

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 <services@yourwebsite.com>
  • Confirmation – Where you can select one of three options:
    1. Displaying a simple message once a form has been submitted
    2. Displaying a specific Page on your website after submission
    3. Redirecting to a specified URL upon submission

WPForms settings

When you’ve finished with your settings, save your form. You can add it to any WordPress page with a shortcode.

WPForms add form

And it looks like this:

WPForms contact page

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:

WPForms add ons

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:

  • AWeber
  • Campaign Monitor
  • GetResponse
  • MailChimp

The Pro package has the Payments Plus module and includes add-ons for:

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • User Registration
  • Login Form
  • Geolocation
  • Zapier Integration
  • Post Submissions
  • Signatures

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.

Pricing

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.

WPForms Pricing

Click here to view full image (best for mobile viewing)

The Ultimate Lifetime plan gives you the option to make a one-off payment rather than renewing annually and includes all future updates

Ultimate: $449

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.

Get WPForms

Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms

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.)

Basic Add-Ons

The Basic Add-Ons contain nine email marketing service integrations:

  • ActiveCampaign
  • AWeber
  • Campaign Monitor
  • CleverReach
  • Emma
  • GetResponse
  • iContact
  • Mad Mimi
  • MailChimp

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.

Advanced Add-Ons

The Advanced Add-Ons integrate with several payment processors:

  • Authorize.net
  • PayPal Payments Standard
  • PayPal Payments Pro
  • PayPal Pro
  • Stripe

And then a whole lot more applications:

  • Agile CRM
  • Batchbook
  • Breeze
  • Campfire
  • Capsule CRM
  • Coupons
  • Dropbox
  • Freshbooks
  • Help Scout
  • Highrise
  • HipChat
  • Partial Entries
  • Polls
  • Quiz
  • Signature
  • Slack
  • Survey
  • Trello
  • Twilio
  • User Registration
  • Zapier
  • 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.

Field customization

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:

Gravity Forms Form choices

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 other

Form customization

Gravity Forms has three Settings tabs:

  • Form settings
  • Confirmation
  • Notifications

Gravity Forms 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:

Gravity Forms form restrictions

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?

Gravity Forms limit entries 1

You can limit how many entries a form will accept and display a custom message when that limit is reached:

Gravity Forms limit entries 2

(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:

Gravity Forms schedule

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:

Gravity Forms 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:

Gravity Forms form builder

You select fields from the right-hand side, which seems odd to me. I find it more natural to go from left to right.

Gravity Forms form builder 2

The field editing is similar to WPForms except you work on the main page rather than a side menu to configure.

Gravity Forms field editing

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.

Pricing

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.

Gravity Form Pricing

Click here to view full image (best for mobile viewing)

Get Gravity Forms

Conclusion

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.

Our pick

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.

Posted by David Hartshorne

David Hartshorne is a freelance writer helping solopreneurs and small businesses build their online presence through friendly, engaging and shareable blog posts. When he’s not checking out the latest digital marketing tools, you’ll find him chilling out in Spain with a gripping thriller.