Published on September 18, 2021
It’s a momentous thing in human history when strangers come into contact with each other for the first time. Seeking out such contact has driven people around the world and back again. The same impulse drives the logic of web-based marketing. When it comes to your WordPress website, you want contact with your users.
And the best way to do that is with a form.
But what kind? A very good question, and WordPress being the mammoth content management provider that it is, has more options than the average person can sift through. But don’t fret, because we’ll winnow the plugins to a Splendid Seven and tell you the things you need to know about each.
How a Form Is Formed
First, about forms. It’s important to know that they come in lots of shapes and sizes, depending on the purpose. Perhaps this is obvious, but the bottom line is that a form is something that a user must interact with. It could be joining an email subscription, or it could be taking a quiz or survey. In a perfect world, it’s making a donation.
Not to mention: a user could be buying something.
The point being: a contact form has to exude confidence and protection of privacy, and so there are certain parameters that must be met. The wrong form, rendered the wrong way, can sink you like dead weight. Whatever plugin you go with has to allow you to remain nimble as the nature of user contacts can change over time.
1. Contact Form 7
Free. There is no sweeter word in the dictionary. And Contact Form 7, the venerable WP form plugin used by over 5 million websites, is free as a bird. It doesn’t cost a dime to add a ready-made contact form to your WP website.
The contact form you can add is pretty basic stuff, with fields for email addresses and telephone numbers, but don’t be misled. Contact Form 7 also has some more advanced fields, like for quizzes and user submissions, that would require an upgrade on other form plugins. And since Contact Form 7 has been around since 2007, many free addons have emerged that will amplify functionality–for example, one would allow form entries to be stored and viewed. Others will let you customize appearance.
Contact Form 7 isn’t a drag-and-drop platform, but it is so integrated with WP that it only takes minutes to have a contact form up and running on your website. And you can’t beat the price.
Another free contact form plugin that has gotten rave reviews is Forminator because it seems like it should be a premium service. Otherwise, how could you do so much with this plugin without reaching for your wallet?
Forminator offers a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface that integrates with many crucial third-party vendors, like Mailchimp, HubSpot, Slack, and Trello. You can add a payment option through PayPal and an email opt-in form, not to mention polls and quizzes. One drawback is that you don’t get to preview your forms until you publish them, but you get robust spam protection with honeypot fields and front-end user submissions.
While Contact Form 7 doesn’t have conditional logic built into it, Forminator does, which means that its forms can change depending on how users respond. All that for the grand total of zero dollars.
This is the consensus top pick of the experts who’ve weighed in on the subject, and over 4,000,000 websites currently are running it on WP. But just because everyone is using it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.
But lots of people think it is.
WPForms has a free version that’s perfect for bloggers and small businesses, and all you need to do is drag-and-drop your way to a perfect contact form that is already formatted to fit WP’s Gutenberg blocks. If you don’t want to build your own form, there are lots of cool templates you can try on for size. Within minutes of installing the plugin, you’ll have a contact form up and running.
The caveat is this: if you want to unlock the more advanced features like order forms, a survey, or a quiz, then you’ll have to upgrade to the Pro version. But the good news is that the price is very affordable at $39.95 per year. WPForms is easy to use and unleashes a powerful way to solidify relationships with users and customers.
4. Formidable Forms
Formidable Forms is the most advanced of the WP contact forms plugins currently on the market. You can create simple contact forms with it, no doubt, but the real strengths of this tool come if you have a bit more experience in web design. Beginners might have a hard time navigating the differing functionalities that make this plugin so attractive to web developers.
Let’s say you want to create an online registration for an upcoming event, like a 5K race. Formidable Forms are definitely the way to go because you can craft a multistep form that easily integrates with third-party vendors. This plugin also allows file uploads and a signature field, and if things need to be changed based on user feedback, you can do so without breaking a sweat. Its user interface is intelligent and intuitive. There are many possible customizations, such as sliding pages.
Formidable Forms is pricey, however, at $79 per year for the pro version, which again will unlock the most powerful functions.
5. Ninja Forms
Like the other WP form plugins, Ninja Forms is based on a drag-and-drop interface that lets users easily build their own contact forms or use a preloaded template. Submissions can be downloaded into a spreadsheet, and customizations are plentiful and simply rendered. Spam protection comes in the form of Honeypot, an unseen field on every form that if it gets filled in, the form fails. Bots wouldn’t know this, of course.
The biggest difference between Ninja Forms and other top contact form plugins is the pricing structure. Ninja Forms has a free version as well as versions for agencies and professionals, but then add-ons can be acquired on an ad hoc basis, meaning you only pay for what you use. This so-called A La Carte option can run between $29-129. Some reviewers have pointed out that the add-ons can get expensive, but this approach might be perfect for you.
6. HubSpot Forms
Customer relationship management (CRM) is not just a buzzword in business circles. It also happens to be a crucial piece of any successful WP website, and the ultimate reason to have contact forms in the first place.
HubSpot’s WP plugin is an all-in-one CRM solution that gives you a form builder, but also live chat, pop-ups, and analytics. This plugin connects with HubSpot’s CRM platform and thus takes a contact form and turns into something else entirely, a marketing tool. So it makes sense that if you’re already on the HubSpot train, don’t get derailed. Use this plugin for your WP contact form.
But be warned that the free version has limited functions and the paid version can run $45 per month, which might be too much for some.
7. Gravity Forms
There is no free version of this very powerful plug-in, but as we’ve pointed out, most plugins do require pro versions if you want to unlock the most advanced functions. Gravity Forms has been around since 2009, and for many years, it was the go-to contact form option on WP.
But WP has exploded since then, and along with that growth has come the tens of thousands of plugins that undergird the WP ecosystem. There is stiff competition, and Gravity Forms, without a free version and with limited customization options, might be a living fossil unless it overhauls its business model.
Its version 2.5 has tried to allay these fears, and its legacy on WP gives it institutional heft. It does interface with popular third-party vendors like Mailchimp and HubSpot, and the community of users does offer a robust support network. The Basic Plan comes in at $59 per year, which makes it competitive with WPForms Pro version.
In the Golden Age of Contact Forms, Contact Form 7 or Forminator are the best choices if you only require the basics. Both are free and should take care of all your needs. If you need more complex forms, then you should probably go with Formidable Forms or Gravity Froms, although each of these plugins performs at a high level.
This post was last updated on January 24, 2022