Ah contact forms….such as a standard feature of a website aren’t they? One would think that WordPress would have tons of great, easy-to-implement choices for this. And indeed there are TONS of choices, it’s just that most of them have pretty cryptic interfaces, especially for newbies.
For contact forms and anything data collection oriented I prefer Gravity Forms but it’s not free and for some bloggers there really wouldn’t be any point in buying it. But a basic contact form is something most WordPress users want so it’s important to find a good, simple and easy to use solution. And by “easy to use”, I mean something that can be figured out by a new blogger fairly easily. Not the kind that’s “easy to use” once you’ve spent hours figuring it out.
So I’ve done some testing of some of the most mentioned contact form plugins – the ones that show up in the plugin directory search, along with ones mentioned by other bloggers. Honestly, most of them made my skin crawl. They called themselves things like “fast” and “easy” (which sounds like a recipe for a great time) but hurt my brain to look at them. Instead of list them anyway (it is, after all, my job to filter the chaff on your behalf), I’ve picked just a couple that I think are actually useful.
When looking for plugins, I wasn’t looking for the plugin that offered the most options, the most data crunching etc. I was looking with new bloggers in mind. So the goal is something pretty easy to use that has the basic functionality needed – a simple contact form. Spam protection and the ability to use the form in a widget were also considerations.
Best Contact Form Plugins for Beginners Bloggers
Formidable is an extremely sophisticated, but well-presented, forms plugin along the lines of Gravity Forms. One of the major differences is that they provide a free version which Gravity Forms does not. Their free version is a solid choice for newbies mostly because it comes with form templates – pre-built forms which can be used as-is very quickly, or easily edited. So it’s pretty quick and painless for a new user to get up and running.
It also includes a captcha field and a widget for your sidebar. Once you have created a form, it’s easy to insert it into a page or post by using the forms icon which shows up next to the media upload/insert icon.
Their interface is very much like Gravity Forms, so if you were to ever make the switch, it won’t be too much of a jump. The real power features come with the paid version of the plugin, but this free version will work for many bloggers.
The contact form built into Jetpack is a good one and it’s easy to use. It’s based on a standalone plugin called Grunion which seems not have been updated recently, so Jetpack would be the best way to add it. It comes with a preset template which you can easily edit to add/remove fields like drop downs, checkboxes etc and the interface is easy to use.
A strange omission is that there is no specific contact form widget, but if you have added a form to a page, you can copy/paste the shortcode it creates into a text widget for your sidebar. A dedicated widget would be a nice touch for newbies. The form submissions are filtered through Akismet so in theory this gets rid of spam entries. There is no option to add a CAPTCHA which would make me feel a little naked, but one has to just trust Akismet in this case.
Recommended Contact Form Plugins for Intermediate and Advanced Users
Contact Form 7
This is a free plugin and it really can do a lot of advanced things if you delve into it. But the interface isn’t particularly user friendly and I noticed that a lot of newbies had problems understanding how it worked. But if you are a more advanced user and want to go beyond the basic form functionality, you can probably achieve what you need with Contact Form 7 and some elbow grease. It’s a very widely used plugin and has even spawned several add-on plugins to extend its capabilities, so you can do things such as collect data and send it to a 3rd part database outside of WordPress (such as a CRM). By adding the plugin Really Simple Captcha you can easily add a captcha.
For me, Gravity Forms (aff. link) is cream of the crop. If you are a developer or someone who runs multiple sites, the developer license will pay for itself very quickly. You can do so many awesome things with Gravity Forms – everything from selling products with its Paypal integration, creating a front-end content submission process for your readers, to modifying the default WordPress user registration process.
Formidable Premium Version
The premium version of Formidable is another great choice. It has many of the same features as Gravity Forms although i haven’t spent enough time with it to be able to point out what significant differences may be.
What is your preferred contact form plugin? What particular issues have you faced in trying to implement forms on your site?
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