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Exploring The Best Contact Form Plugins For WordPress

Posted on June 20 by in Resources | 34 comments

Exploring The Best Contact Form Plugins For WordPress

Looking for an easy way to add contact forms to your site without having to manually hard code them? Here are some great free options, plus some others that you may want to check out for more advanced needs.

Contact Form 7 by Takayuki Miyoshi

The quick details:

Customizable back end? Yes.
Documentation available? Yes.
Customizable visuals? Requires CSS and HTML.
Customizable fields? Yes.
JavaScript and CSS disabling allowed? Yes.
Captcha? Yes, through integrations. This is why.
Integrates with Akismet? Yes.
Other spam protection? Yes, through integrations.
Ability to create multiple forms? Yes.
E-mail newsletter capabilities? Yes, through integrations.
Paid upgrades available? No, author likes it free and open source, and takes donations only (which you should totally do, cuz that’s cool).

This contact form plugin is probably one of the most popular in the WordPress repository, with well over 17 million downloads to date and over 1600 5-star reviews. Its author, Takayuki Miyoshi has declared it will always be free, because he believes in the philosophy and strength of keeping things open source for everyone to use and learn from. Also, as Takayuki tells us, this has allowed himself and others to build upon and improve the contact form plugin, which makes it even more useful:

Since Contact Form 7 doesn’t have any ‘paywall’ around it, anybody can get its source code for free. This allows me to get tons of feedback from users, and feedback is absolutely imperative to maintain quality of software. Also, a lot of add-on plugins for Contact Form 7 have been developed by third party developers.

In fact, one author has mentioned that this contact form has qualities that make it better than Gravity Forms, which is a paid option. In particular, its code is mentioned as being cleaner, and the general accessibility and documentation of the plugin make it easier for developers to work with it.

However, that being said, this plugin, while not being hard to learn, does require minimal knowledge of HTML and other code. If you’d like to create more fields, it’s quite a bit of work to both create those fields and make sure the form sends all its information to the right place. Yes, there are shortcode generators that make this a lot easier, to be fair. But if, for example, you want to disable the JavaScript or CSS of the plugin, you’ll need to know how to play with the wp-config, and other PHP files, which is not a beginner’s piece of cake.

Upcoming news from the author: Takayuki has let us know that while there are no immediate major announcements to make, he has been thinking of integrating his popular Contact Form 7 plugin with his Flamingo plugin. CRM capabilities with a popular contact form? Yes please!

Takayuki is a web developer from Japan who first created Contact Form 7 for his own use.  Today he has 11 plugins in the WordPress repo.

Fast Secure Contact Form by Mike Challis

The quick details:

Customizable back end? Lots of dashboard settings, or you can use this.
Documentation available? Somewhat, through an FAQ page and a regular changelog.
Customizable visuals? Requires CSS.
Customizable fields? Yes.
JavaScript and CSS disabling allowed? Yes.
Captcha? Yes.
Integrates with Akismet? Yes.
Other spam protection? Yes.
Ability to create multiple forms? Yes.
E-mail newsletter capabilities? Yes, with Constant Contact.
Paid upgrades available? We couldn’t find any, but you can donate here.

Though not as widely used as Contact Form 7, this plugin is an up and coming front-runner in the WordPress contact form arena. It’s got a higher rating than Contact Form 7, with 1235 5-star ratings, but much fewer downloads – just over 4.5 million.

It’s likely popular for many reasons, one of which is that it doesn’t load its JavaScript on every page, if there is no form on every page. It also has a lot of settings – too much to explain here, but you can read a comprehensive list of features and abilities on its description page in the WordPress repository.

This form is a teeny bit more ‘dummy proof’ for non-coders than Contact Form 7 because of its drag-and-drop, check-a-button interface. Plus there isn’t really any HTML or complicated shortcode creation. However (and this is a big ‘however’), there are so many settings that it can be overwhelming to learn at first. If you want to get rid of a default field, you can’t just delete it, for example. You have to figure out that you must “disable” it. And if you want to change a field label, you don’t do that where you create fields, you do that in a separate tab where there are separate settings.

Like with Contact Form 7, if you want to change the look and feel of the form, you do need to know CSS. Word of the wise: if you plan on using the CSS settings of the plugin and not adding styles to your stylesheet, be prepared to re-do a lot of that work when migrating a site or creating a new form.

This plugin has a lot of integrations that come right out of the box. This may or may not be a good thing, since not all people will need to integrate with Constant Contact or use online scheduling software that can also do invoicing. But if the need is there, this plugin can make those integration processes so much smoother for you.

It’s author seems to be a jack of all trades in the tech industry, having created other plugins, PHP Scripts and a website devoted to weather in Long Beach, WA. He also does computer repairs, go figure.

Contact Form by BestWebSoft

The quick details:

Customizable back end? Not really.
Documentation available? Yes, through a 55-page Google Doc, through an FAQ page and a regular changelog.
Customizable visuals? Requires upgrade to pro version.
Customizable fields? No.
JavaScript and CSS disabling allowed? Not mentioned, but multiple forms require JavaScript to work for sure.
Captcha? Requires an extra plugin.
Integrates with Akismet? No.
Other spam protection? No.
Ability to create multiple forms? Requires an add-on, which has it’s own extra paid add-on.
E-mail newsletter capabilities? No.
Paid upgrades available? Yes, lots of them which you can find here.

This contact form plugin by BestWebSoft has over 2 million downloads and a 4.5 out of 5 star rating, though not as many reviews as the other contact form plugins mentioned in this article. It is an extremely simple contact form – don’t expect any bells or whistles here. If you want to keep things ultra lean, then this plugin will work for you.

According to Anna from BestWebSoft, its simplicity is its main compliment:

The main thing that our users point out in their reviews is that our Contact Form plugin is extremely easy in usage. Indeed, it is functional, intuitive and user-friendly. It does not have tons of settings, so even a person without any technical knowledge can install and configure it in a few clicks.

That being said, if your ever see yourself needing a contact form where you can add your own fields, or collect more information than what someone could or would send by having your e-mail address alone, then this won’t be the plugin for you.

Many things that come standard in other free contact form plugins either require an extra download or a paid add-on with this plugin. For example, creating multiple forms requires an additional plugin installation. And having a default value requires a paid add-on. So if you’re going to go beyond collecting contact info, a subject and a message, then you’d be better off going with another free and well-used plugin, rather than paying for every little feature you might need down the road.

That is, unless you really need a simple user interface and minimal settings in the back end, which can make a big difference for some users, especially the non-technical ones. For example, changing a colour of a field can be done more easily through a dashboard setting with their pro version, than with the free plugins mentioned in this article.

This plugin is also translated into several languages, which can be necessary for international users.

BestWebSoft set out on a mission to create simple plugins with very little settings on purpose. According to Anna, when they started their company,

The only thing that bothered us at that moment was the lack of simple plugins. When we say simplicity we mean ‘install and run’ plugins.  All plugins of that time had a huge number of unnecessary settings and sophisticated options. There was no universal and simple tool which would just do its job. We could not even find the right plugins for our own website…Therefore, we decided to create such a tool and then another one, and another, and we are still creating plugins.

Today they sell several plugins, which they also try to integrate with each other. Soon they plan on releasing the ability to try a version of their Contact Form Pro plugin, so you can test it out before committing to the full purchase.

A few other WordPress contact form options you should know about…

contact-forms-other-options-crm

Image by Bloom Design / shutterstock.com

There are more contact form plugins available for WordPress, of course. We can’t cover them all in detail, so we’ll just try to let you know of a few more that are out there, which you should definitely check out. Then, let us know how they fare in the comments section below!

JetPack by WordPress.com – this is a multi-feature plugin designed to make your WordPress.org site a lot like a WordPress.com blog. One of those features is a simple contact form, which is backed by Akismet spam protection. So if you’ve already got JetPack going on your site, and all you need is a simple way to capture people’s messages on your site with a form, then you don’t need additional plugins – just make full use of JetPack!

Gravity Forms – by far probably the most popular option for an advanced, paid contact form plugin with several integration options. If you’re looking for that special integration with a CRM, payment system or newsletter, then Gravity Forms will likely have an add-on for that.

Plus if you want your form to do all kinds of fancy things and function a certain way (such as showing fields only after selecting from a drop down, or limiting the number of times a form can be entered), then Gravity Forms can likely get it done for you.

The WordPress.org repository – there are many more free options in the WordPress repository, though maybe not as popular or as widely used as the ones mentioned in this article. However, that doesn’t mean they’re junk! Many are awaiting great discovery by users such as yourself, and we’d love to hear about your experiences with them!

Integrate with a CRM or special program – sometimes what you need is not just any contact form, but a contact form that will send form information to a special database or file, or store things in a certain place. In cases like these, you’ll need to use the forms or plugins that a program gives or makes for that special purpose.

For example, if you use SalesForce as a CRM, you’ll want to make sure all the leads that come through your site are automatically entered into SalesForce so that you can follow up with them later, and save yourself a lot of manual work. In those cases, try a plugin like WordPress-to-Lead for SalesForce CRM. Same goes for using things like Hubspot, Zoho, or Ontraport forms as lead generators. Sometimes these forms require their JavaScript portion to go in the header of a WordPress site in order to work properly; so having a plugin take care of those difficult parts for a non-techy user is a big time saver.

In another example, if you are conducting a survey, getting a bunch of emails that you’ll need to manually do data entry with later will be very tedious with most ‘regular’ contact form options. In cases like those, consider embedding a Google Form (yes they can do surveys, record answers to a spreadsheet, and give you charts too!) or another survey program’s form into your site. There are usually always plugins that can help with these things (such as this one for Google Forms) but whether or not you need them will be something you’ll need to evaluate, since many of these tools are extremely simple to use once you find their embed codes.

Build it manually – sometimes a contact form needs to feed into a custom-made program, because no existing solution can match an organization’s exact needs. In those cases, you’ll need a developer to manually build your contact forms on your site, and have their “action” be to send the filled in information to a particular database. For example, this tutoring company uses a system built specially for their company, so that when a client books a tutor, the information goes directly into a system that can also later handle billing and scheduling – extremely convenient and much better than just getting a bunch of e-mails to sort through!

To conclude: pick a contact form for your long term needs

The contact form you decide to go with should first consider your long term needs. You may not need to integrate with a CRM or payment system right now, but consider what your business will look like in the next few months to a year. For example:

  • Will you need to eventually collect survey information?
  • Will there be a time when sending a message is just not enough, and you need to collect attachments or require consent check boxes?
  • Will your forms serve as registrations for events or programs?
  • Will your website leads need to be collected in an organized way for sales follow up later on?
  • Will your contacts need an immediate response as soon as they fill out a form?

These are all the types of questions you should ask when picking a contact form plugin for WordPress.

If your needs truly are simple enough, then go with a simple option and don’t bother yourself with all the ‘extras’ that can complicate things. The great thing about WordPress is that you can change your mind about a plugin and use something new later on. But the work that will be required to do so at that time is what should motivate you to ask these questions up front.

Article thumbnail image by La1n / shutterstock.com

34 Comments

  1. Visual Form Builder is also a great plugin to use.

    • Another vote for VFB here.

      • VFB is awesome to use on so many levels. Plus, if you yank the css out of their styles sheet and turn off css in the backend, you can copy their css into your child theme and tweak it to look like a part of your site. I’ve worked with a lot of these form builders and contact plugins and have to say that it works the best out of everything that I’ve found so far.

    • Another vote for VFB.

    • I liked Ninja Forms until they changed their license/fee structure and changed the standard plugin’s features then neglected their existing customers i.e. I bought an unlimited license for unlimited upgrades (so I thought) but got ripped off (so I felt). Ninja Forms kinda lost its credibility with the license change.

      NF might be a nice plugin again now, I don’t know. I would never trust it again. Moved to VFB Pro and haven’t looked back.

      • Lee,

        A business has to evolve in it’s pricing to remain a healthy and growing one. We’ve made several changes over the year but that being said we’ve always honored and grandfathered customer’s through each stage.

        If you had unlimited license with us you should still have the same said license for the features that you purchased at that time. If that’s not the case please contact us (http://ninjaforms.com/contact/) and let us know so we can correct that.

  2. Hi Joyce
    I’m a CF7 man – I use it on all my sites apart from my Elegant Themes sites where I use the ET contact form.

    I have used Really Simple Captcha with CF7 but had problems when I use a caching plugin.
    The solution is to use a quiz question, which is built into CF7.

    If you use a quiz question you don’t have a problem with caching and it’s one less plugin to install.

  3. I’ve used gravity forms for 3 years and would not want to live without it. It is a top notch plugin and saves me so much time. It’s very reliable and has so many cool uses.

    • I agree. Gravity Forms is hands down the best WordPress contact form plugin. Once you go Gravity, you never go back. :)

  4. You’ve forgotten the best – Formidable Pro!

  5. I completely agree with Gregory and Pat. Visual Form builder Pro is great!!

  6. There’s a contact form in Divi, what do I need plugins for?
    Great post anyway!

  7. Thank you all for your input! It’s awesome to learn of other contact form plugins out there! Curious if anyone has had experience integrating their forms or form plugins with CRMs or other databases, and how easy or difficult that was for you?

    • Ninja Forms has integration with a few CRMs like ZOHO, Capsule, and Insightly with more in development. They’re all very easy and straightforward but obviously I would say that so as far as ease of use I’ll leave that to others. :)

  8. Very nice article for contact form. Contact form 7 is best plugin for WordPress based websites.

  9. While CF7 is nice, I use Formidable Pro for all my contact forms and just about anything else that involves forms. It’s a very versatile plugin and you’re only required to pay once for the premium version as opposed to Gravity Forms, etc.

  10. CF7 gave me headaches while trying to get the date picker to work across FF, MSIE, Chrome, Opera and Safari browsers, that and intermittent captcha issues (maybe related to caching) – switched to si contact form and loved how it sends html formatted confirmation email to the sender.

    Just tested VFB – Impressive. I’ll buy that one when I get a job that will cover its entry fee.

  11. Fantastic resource, Joyce. I’ve been a long time user of CF7 but recently switched to Gravity Forms since CF7 was giving me a ton of issues.

  12. thanks for this list… i was indeed looking for plugins to collect informations from surveys, but also for sales follow up. You guys at ET will always manage to surprise me…

  13. wow.. i searching for this kind of plugin….

    • same is the case with me that I was searching this for my sites, and now I like to use this contact us plugin for all of my sites.

  14. Just came to the second Plugin, tried it and got happy.
    Thx a lot.

  15. Hey Joyce,

    I use WordPress for some of my websites, however, I’ve recently started up with a custom PHP built CMS. I’m looking for a compatible non-Wordpress contact template; do you have any suggestions on where I should look, or what I should use? Hoping for a professional opinion on this as I’m in need of one. (:

    Thank you for your time, and the article! Great read.

    Regards,

    • Look at JotForm.com. It may be just what you want. It isn’t a WordPress plugin but works on WordPress and other sites. Try it for free.

  16. I use GRavity Forms at all my sites and are extremely happy with that. Ok, it costs money every year, but as all other stuff, you get what you pay for.

  17. I use JotForm for many purposes. You impede it into your site. It’s free for up to 100 submissions. $9.95 for up to 1,000 (the option I use). It has extraordinary versatility, is easy to use and it provides excellent customer service for the paid version I use.

  18. Is there any way I can add a multi step form on single page/post.

    I found the contact form multi step but it requires different page ofr each step.

    I want that when user finis 1st part see the 2nd part at same page, for example like this form I(http://www.vendorseek.com/call_center_services.asp) though its in asp. I am trying to get this done in WP

    Thanks a ton in advance for the help

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