If you have a website, it’s virtually a given that you have a contact page with a form on it for collecting messages from your users. Pretty much everyone does. Which is why if you run a query for “forms” in the WordPress plugin directory, you’ll be overwhelmed with hundreds of results. Some of the most notable come up on the first page, including WP Contact Form and Contact Form 7.
The latter has been my form plugin of choice, for its simplicity and flexibility. That is, until I heard about Gravity Forms.
Corralling Form Data
A client on a recent project requested two special sections on his site: 1. A page a user could leave feedback; and 2. A ‘Help Desk,’ where a subscriber could submit a trouble ticket. Both sections needed to be stored in the database and easily retrieved and reviewed. None of the form plugins I’d previously used provided this functionality. Gravity Forms came highly recommended from a few people on the Theme Hybrid forums, so even though it’s a ‘premium’ plugin (yes, premium as in I paid for it) I gave it a go.
For what I needed to use it for, GF has worked like a charm. Form submissions are stored in the database and my client can easily view, delete, or mark each submission as read. He can mark certain submissions with a star if he wants. There is also an export feature, with the ability to selectively limit the data fields, as well as a date range. The file then gets downloaded as a .csv file. For collecting data over a longer period of time, this is obviously far superior to tracking down hundreds of emails with one submission each.
But Wait, There’s More!
As easily as Gravity Forms has handled my clients request, this plugin actually does a whole lot more. Here’s just a few of the features, most of which I’ve yet to even play with:
- Dynamic Field Population: Save users time by automatically filling in fields
- Form Scheduling: Define a start and end date to a form
- Limit Entries: Limit the number of entries that a form can receive
- Respond to Entries from WordPress: Manage and respond to entries right from WordPress
- Autoresponder Emails: Send automatic responses to submissions
- User Created Posts: Allow users to create a post when the form is submitted
That last one makes me smile big. I can just see the possibilities: user submitted stories, job boards, lost and found submissions, etc. For a more complete list of features, check out the full feature list, or try out their demo. Or just go buy it!
Plugins such as Contact Form 7 have served me well for a long time. CF7 is still a great form plugin for those who just need to get notified via email when a user wants to leave a message. For those who need a bit more, however, Gravity Forms is the way to go.
But isn’t it too pricey?
For me, no. I opted for the 5 site license for $99, and it’s been worth ever dime thus far. The potential future uses for this plugin make it even more valuable.
For those who believe that since WordPress is free to use so shall all plugins be free, this plugin is not for you. Because it costs way more than a penny. And good luck finding this kind of functionality and flexibility out of any of the other guys.
What Do You Think?
Am I right? Wrong? Have you used Gravity Forms? Is there something better out there? Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas below!