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The Best Forms for Your WordPress Website

by Jason Unger, Founder

Nearly every website has some sort of interactive form; whether it’s a simple contact form, a donation form, or a more complex data collection form.

Similarly, there’s a number of ways to manage the data that forms capture, from a simple email notification to databases full of information.

The software that you choose directly relates to the goal of your form and what you plan to do with the data. Options range from the incredibly simple to the overly complex, and there’s a reason and application for each.

When it comes to forms that integrate with WordPress, for many years we recommended Caldera Forms. It was the easiest to use and the most flexible for managing data, while being incredibly extensive and integrating with third-party systems like payment processors and email marketing software.

In March 2021, the developers behind Caldera announced that they’d be sunsetting the plugin at the end of the year, effectively ending support for any future development, including security patches and updates.

With our recommended form plugin no longer an option, here are the form options you should consider for your website.

For Most Sites: Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms has been a long-time player in the WordPress form space, with a ton of add-ons and third-party integrations.

Even with our recommendation of Caldera, there were times where Gravity Forms made more sense – like the time we needed their Survey Add-On, or when we needed to build a form with complex conditional logic.

The downside of Gravity has always been the difficulty in building forms; it’s easy to add fields, but laying them out is historically difficult, and styling them always required a lot of custom CSS.

The release of Gravity Forms 2.5 brought a brand new drag-and-drop interface, where you can easily re-arrange and re-size your fields. It’s so much easier to build forms, allowing Gravity Forms to replace Caldera Forms as our recommended WordPress form plugin.

All of our website management clients have access to our Gravity Forms Elite subscription, which includes every single available add-on.

For Simple Sites: Contact Form 7

One of the oldest WordPress plugins, Contact Form 7 offers an incredibly simple, straight-forward contact form.

There’s nothing fancy about it; you have access to an HTML editor and a few different field types. By default, submissions aren’t stored in a database – you simply get an email notification with the form data.

That’s it.

While we usually don’t recommend Contact Form 7, we definitely still see sites using it. If it works for you – great.

You should never install more code on your site than necessary, and that’s especially true when it comes to plugins.

For Heavily-Integrated Sites: Third-Party Forms

If you’re an organization that manages your customer or community data in CRM software like Salesforce, Blackbaud, or Hubspot, then you’re likely best served with third-party form software.

While there are usually integrations with WordPress-powered form plugins (like Gravity Forms), most CRM systems have their own form software that can simply be embedded into any page on your website. That’s often the best option to make sure the data you capture goes directly into your database.

If you want to manage your form data outside of your CRM and outside of WordPress, third-party form software like Form Assembly and Wufoo does a great job at creating stand-alone forms, with easy data management and even some great reporting tools. It’s also incredibly convenient to be able to generate a standalone form page, outside of your website or CRM, if you simply need to capture data unrelated to your site.

The Bottom Line on Forms

The form software that makes the most sense for you depends on:

  • the type of data you are collecting
  • where you want to manage that data
  • how the forms need to integrate into other platforms

Not sure which form software makes the most sense for you?

Reach out and we’ll help walk you through the decision-making process.

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About Jason Unger

Jason Unger is the Founder of Digital Ink. He built his first website on Geocities, and hasn't looked back since. Digital Ink tells stories for forward-thinking businesses, mission-driven organizations, and marketing and technology agencies in need of a creative and digital partner.

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