Translated by Núria Adell.
Apart from a few exceptions, all websites need some sort of mechanism to interact with the visitors, aside from managing or not to make them read the content. Many WordPress themes directly incorporate some sort of contact forms so that the readers can get in contact with you.
But if this is not your case, there are plenty of plugins that allow you to add forms to your website. Actually, you can install in your dashboard more than 1,000! ? (please, don’t do it)
But before discussing a few plugins, do you already know the basic characteristics that every contact form plugin should have? In most cases, they’re the following:
- Define or configure any form you want your visitor to see,
- Indicate where you want your form to appear: page, post or widget,
- Indicate messages of confirmation or error that you want to come up after filling out the form,
- Indicate where you want to get the information from the correctly filled out form.
And from here, you can complicate it as much as you want with complex contact forms, sending the information to multiple users, controlling spam, integrating it with other platforms, etc.
For example, let’s see how contact forms work in Contact Form 7, the most popular free contact form plugin out there; these are the basic characteristics:
Contact Form 7 is one of the plugins included in the list of the 20+ plugins with more than 1 million active installations. And, as I have already mentioned, it’s the most popular free contact form plugin. It includes the following options:
Configurating contact forms
Once you have installed the plugin in the WordPress dashboard, with the option Contact » Contact Forms you can configure all the forms you want to be shown on your website.
Adding a new contact form on a post or page
Each contact form has it’s own shortcode, like
[contact-form-7 id="1648" title="Formulario de contacto 1"], which is what you have to copy and paste on the post, page or widget where you want to include the desired form.
Once it has been added, you will have the contact form on your post or page:
Adding or modifying fields on the form
When editing a form, you will see four tabs coming up: Form, Mail, Messages, and Additional Settings.
On the first one, Form, you will see the labels your form will have, together with the type of fields you want your visitor to fill. You can add, modify or delete the fields shown in the form as you wish. More details on the syntax of the labels can be found in Tag syntax.
Where to send the filled-out form
On the second tab of the form, Mail, you can indicate the email address to which you wish to send the form information, additional headings, or the body of the message you want to write.
Automatic answer messages
On the third tab, Messages, you can indicate the sentences you want to be shown depending on the information that’s introduced in the form.
Despite being a totally free plugin, it has very complete documentation. And one of the great advantages of the popularity of this plugin is the amount of Add-ons that have been created to increase the power of the plugin itself. For instance, Contact Form 7 – PayPal Add-on to integrate payment forms with PayPal; Contact Form 7 MailChimp Extension to be able to automatically incorporate your contacts in a MailChimp list; or Contact Form 7 Style that allows you to create contact forms with styles that are much more diverse than the default ones of Contact Form 7.
So after looking at this, what are the most popular alternatives to using Contact Form 7?
WPForms has a free version, WPForms Lite, and the great advantage of this form plugin is that the creation of forms is very visual and straightforward with an interface that allows to drag and drop fields.
For additional functionalities, such as multi-step forms, payment forms, or special conditions, etc., you need to subscribe to the Premium version.
Ninja Forms also has a free version and, even though initially it might not be as visual and easy to use since it doesn’t have a default contact form, the free version is more powerful. And it has many interesting extensions in Premium versions, such as the integration with Campaign Monitor, Freshbooks, Salesforce, SMS notifications, etc.
You have both the option of buying each of the extensions separately or getting packages that already include the most popular extensions. With such extensions, you get prices similar to those of the Gravity Forms (see below).
The plugin Fast Secure Contact Form is a free plugin that generates forms and also blocks spammers. It allows you to generate very professional forms in a simple way, easily adding and removing fields. The filled-out forms can be sent to one or several email addresses and it also allows attached files to be added to the form. There’s only a free version.
The plugin Visual Form Builder has a free version and several pro versions, starting from $29. You can easily create forms with a very professional interface, send the information to multiple email addresses and, once the form has been filled out, redirect to the page of your interest.
The plugin Pirate Forms is a free plugin created by the team of Themeisle and CodeInWP. It has a very intuitive interface to create simple contact forms and includes all the basic characteristics required. It has been made to create forms without complications, however it’s important to highlight it doesn’t give you the option to integrate them with payment platforms.
The plugin Contact Form by BestWebSoft is also free and allows you to send the information of the forms to more than one email address, change the aspect and type of form, and let the reader add attached files. Just like Contact Form 7, it works with shortcodes. It’s a plugin created for beginners, so it’s very intuitive.
Gravity Forms is a paid plugin (starting from $39 for a website) that has all the alternatives you can think of related to contact forms. It includes forms with multiple pages visualizing what’s left to fill out, it allows to fill in only a maximum number of forms (if it’s, for example, a limited application), and it lets you arrange visit times including post codes.
If you want to create complex forms, don’t hesitate to look into this option as a good alternative.
As I have mentioned at the beginning, it is possible that your theme includes some contact form that’s already sufficient for what you need. But if you’re looking for something simple and you’re not a great expert in WordPress, maybe WPForms is the plugin that, to start with, seems to be the most simple to use.
The truth is all the plugins I previously mentioned look very straightforward to me, even if you’re a beginner. I recommend you install any of them and you’ll see that, in a few minutes you’ll manage to create a form for your site.
If you’re looking for something more sophisticated, I recommend you look at one of the Premium versions. Amongst other motives, to make sure you have the service support for any problem you may have.
Oh! And finally, it is also interesting to analyze the alternatives of emerging contact forms (pop-ups or opt-ins). For instance, in this blog, we’ve been using the OptinMonster for a while. If you’ve been reading until here such pop-up has probably already come up.
So what is your experience with contact forms? Do you use any plugin that I haven’t mentioned? Leave a comment to share your case.
Featured image by Mathias Kurman.