Man filling in a daily report schedule

Customer service is the new marketing. It’s the best way to promote ourselves. And it’s something that’s changing really fast: social media, chatbots, artificial intelligence, … Just take a look at everything is doing to better serve its users with its Happiness Engineers: real-time support Monday through Friday, 24 hours a day (and weekends if you’re one of the biggest customers).

Homer simpson
How can I help? Source: Giphy.

At Nelio, for example, we value customer service a lot, and that’s one of the things we use to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. To ensure that our customers are fully satisfied with our services, we offer them outstanding support. We may not always be able to solve their issues, but we always (always!) do our best, and that’s something they feel and appreciate.

If you’re also interested in achieving that excellence, you obviously have to let them get in touch with you. How many times have you gone to a website to try to talk to someone from a company and ended up wasting your time looking for a contact page, an email address, or a Twitter account, just to finally discover there’s none? That’s something you can’t afford, so in today’s post I’m going to explain how to create a contact form in WordPress easily and the advantages it brings.

WordPress Form Plugins

The more communication channels you offer your users, the easier it will be for them to contact you and the less likely it is that they’ll feel frustrated, abandoned and, finally, annoyed when they need you and can’t find you. But of course, more channels also mean more work for you: support forums, social networks, real-time help chats, email, contact forms, ticketing systems… all of this gives your users more confidence and peace of mind, because they know that when they need you, you’ll be there—but it’s difficult to manage. ?

Stressed too much by NewQuest
I know. Great support can be stressful. Picture by newquest on Giphy.

In my previous post, where we discussed what to do after installing WordPress, I mentioned that contact forms are one of the best alternatives to let your customers get in touch with you. Moreover, these forms won’t overwhelm you—unlike chats, phone calls, or social media (to mention just a few examples), they don’t require an immediate answer from your end, so you’ll have plenty of time to organize your work and address the issues at your own pace ??

So let’s get down to it: how can you careate a contact form in WordPress? Because, you know, WordPress doesn’t include contact forms by default… Well, there are a few plugins that can help you with this endeavor. Let me briefly discuss 3 of the best contact form plugins for WordPress (according to my experience, of course).

#1 Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 on Plugin Directory
Contact Form 7 on Plugin Directory.

Any list of WordPress form plugins should include Contact Form 7, the plugin that has been with us the longest. Its main advantage is the cost: you can install it in as many places as you want without having to spend a penny. And because it’s such a popular plugin, there’s a whole ecosystem of extra plugins around it that increase its functionality and make it even more powerful and capable. Its huge user community is also a plus: this plugin is installed on over five million sites! So you know you’ll never be alone when facing trouble.

But not all that glitters is gold. And the main weakness of Contact Form 7 is its user interface. Unlike the other two plugins discussed here, which have gorgeous UIs, Contact Form 7 is tremendously austere. You’ll have to be slightly more skilled when using this plugin, as you’ll have to create the forms using HTML… but its power and versatility make it worthy of being on our list of recommendations.

#2 Ninja Forms

Ninja Forms on Plugin Directory
Ninja Forms on Plugin Directory.

Ninja Forms is a great plugin for creating contact forms. Unlike Contact Form 7, Ninja Forms follows a Freemium model: that is, you can use the plugin for free, but there are some features that are only available to subscribers (such as, for example, all add-ons that have conditional logic type available, multi-part forms, integration with other platforms, etc).

The advantages in this case are obvious: the plugin is completely free and it has one of the most beautiful and user-friendly interfaces available to create forms. And with more than a million active installations, you can rest assured that there’s a large user community you can turn to if you have any questions.

The only disadvantage I see to this plugin is that most of its add-ons are paid. That is, depending on what you want or need, you’ll have to spend some money. But I personally like paid plugins, as they “guarantee” that you’ll have support and updates from the developer ?.

#3 Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms Website
Screenshot of Gravity Form’s website. This is a premium plugin.

GravityForms is another well-known form plugin, although in this case we’re talking about a premium plugin that lacks a free version. And yes, that’s probably its biggest disadvantage: if you want to use Gravity Forms you’ll have to spend money.

However, its advantages include an extremely intuitive and user-friendly interface (as beautiful as Ninja Forms’), plenty of add-ons to increase its capabilities and a lot of resources, documentation, and support.

How to Create Your First Contact Form in WordPress

Okay, now that you know (some of) the different options, let’s address the following questions: which plugin should you install? And how can you create your first form?

To be honest, I can’t answer the first question for you—different plugins have different UIs and different features, so you should be the one giving them a try and deciding what you like the most and works the best for you. But if you’re wondering which plugin we’re using on our website, it’s Contact Form 7. We didn’t need anything too fancy and the plugin worked pretty well by default ?.

Since everything is up to you, let me help you by showing you how to create your first contact form with the two plugins that have a free version: Ninja Forms and Contact Forms 7.

How to Create a Contact Form using Ninja Forms

After you have installed this plugin, all you have to do is go to the new menu that has appeared on the Dashboard called Ninja Forms. As you can see, its developers have already created a default contact form for you:

Default Contact Form on Ninja Forms
Default Contact Form on Ninja Forms.

Neat! You’ve already created your first form and you didn’t even have to do anything! ?

Jokes aside, creating a form is very simple. Simply click on the Add New button and choose the type of form you want to create:

Form Types on Ninja Forms
When you want to create a new form in Ninja Forms, you’ll see it includes some predefined form types you might want to use. This way, you won’t have to create a new form from scratch.

Ninja Forms includes a whole bunch of form types to choose from. Select the one that best suits your needs and Ninja Forms will present you with a form with a set of pre-determined fields ready to use, saving you the trouble of having to create it from scratch. If, for example, we select a contact form, we will see that it’ll already include a Name, Email, and Message fields, as well as the Submit button.

Editing a Form with Ninja Forms
Editing a Form with Ninja Forms.

As you can imagine, you can drag and drop the fields as you please to sort them, edit them individually by clicking on the small gear icon next to them, and so on. There’s plenty of setups for you to discover, but I think this covers the basics perfectly, don’t you? ?

How to Create a Contact Form using Contact Form 7

Creating a form with Contact Form 7 is no different than creating a form with any other plugin… except, you know, it lacks a nice user interface. After installing the plugin a new menu appears on the Dashboard called Contact and, as we have already seen, a default form called Contact Form 1 will be waiting for us.

If you want to create a new form, just click on the Add New button and the somewhat outdated Contact Form 7 user interface will appear:

Editing a form in Contact Form 7
Editing a form in Contact Form 7.

As you can see, it looks quite outdated: we’re writing pseudo-HTML on a plain text editor… It’s so 90s! ?? Anyway, if you look closely, you’ll see basically all fields are shortcodes with two words: the type of field we have (text, email, textarea, etc) followed by an optional * to indicate whether the field is mandatory or not, and a name that identifies the field (such as your-email, your-name, or your-message).

If we now take a look at the second tab (Mail), we’ll see the following:

Email Sent by Contact Form 7
When a Contact Form 7 is successfully submitted, the plugin willsend an email. You can tweak the email as you please when editing the form.

The UI is still old-fashioned, but functional. Here we define the email that the plugin will send when a user successfully submits the form. A closer inspection in the tab reveals an interesting thing: the email can pull the values of our form by inserting their names in the content: your-email, your-message, your-subject… Clever! It’s not the most beautiful thing in the world but…. hey, it works ?

How to Use Your New Contact Form

Finally, to use the contact form all we have to do is create (or choose) the page or post where we want it to appear and paste the shortcode that the form plugin gave us. In the case of Ninja Forms, it was:

[ ninja_form id=1 ]

whereas Contact Form 7’s was:

[ contact-form-1 id="117" title="Contact form 1" ]

Insert the shortcode, save the page or post, and done!

In Summary

User support is becoming more and more important, so you’d better start thinking seriously about offering your users and customers mechanisms to get in touch with you. The fastest and easiest way to add one on your website is through a contact form, so install one of the plugins we’ve seen, create the form, and you’re done!

Featured Image by rawpixel on Unsplash.

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