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Once a popular and powerful WordPress form builder, Gravity Forms seems outdated and clunky compared to its rivals. It doesn’t offer a free version, and its features are mediocre at best. If you’ve never used a form builder before, you could find it overcomplicated – and there are bigger, better, and cheaper alternatives in the WordPress plugin repository. Read on to find out which ones I recommend.
Easy to Use and Full of Great Features, but There Are Better Tools
Since its foundation in 2009, Gravity Forms has been heralded as the most powerful WordPress form builder plugin. Now, however, it has a lot more competition – and it doesn’t even offer a free version you can install from the WordPress plugin repository. Instead, you have to choose one of its three paid plans – Basic, Pro, or Elite.
Although Gravity Forms has some advanced tools such as conditional logic, its interface isn’t too appealing and you’re short on style options, too. It doesn’t support multilingual forms, which can be a huge disadvantage – though you can change the language from the default US English to your native language by changing the language of your WordPress installation.
There are other WordPress form builders you can try out for free, like CaptainFormand NinjaForms, and they also come with lots more features – but don’t write Gravity Forms off just yet. Keep reading to find out if this form builder can meet your needs.
When I first tried out the Gravity Forms demo, I couldn’t find any templates anywhere. Instead of offering a template picker, like most WordPress form builders, Gravity Forms includes sample forms in the plugin that you can edit and customize.
These samples include an advanced contact form, a survey form, a multi-page form, a job application form, a product order form, a simple contact form, and a conditional logic form. These sample forms are definitely focused on business and e-commerce.
Since Gravity Forms integrates with your WordPress theme, as long as your theme is mobile responsive, your forms will be, too – but there’s no way of adjusting your forms to look different on different devices.
Gravity Forms’ Features Limit Your Creative Freedom
Despite its claims that it’s the most powerful WordPress form builder plugin, Gravity Forms’ feature set fails to impress. It’s not terrible, but there are better plugins available, such as NinjaForms, that lets you completely customize its features with a range of add-ons.
With Gravity Forms, you can create unlimited forms with over 30 form fields and receive unlimited submissions, create multi-page forms, and benefit from automatic updates. Other Gravity Forms features include calculations, Save and Continue options so users don’t have to complete your forms in one session, and WordPress post creation for user-generated content.
However, Gravity Forms does limit your control over how your forms look. Unlike Cognito Forms, for example, Gravity Forms doesn’t allow you to arrange your forms in columns or change colors, fonts, and other style options. To change the style of your forms in Gravity Forms, you need to use CSS – which makes it much more complicated.
Add-Ons and Integrations
Gravity Forms offers a number of add-ons and integrations. What you get depends on the license you purchase. The Basic License includes 14 add-ons, the Pro License includes all basic add-ons plus 16 others, and the Elite License includes all Basic and Pro add-ons, plus 14 others.
The add-ons for the different plans include:
Basic plan: HubSpot, AWeber, GetResponse
Pro plan: Dropbox, FreshBooks, PayPal Payments Standard, Zapier
Elite plan: Polls, Coupons, Stripe, Survey
Limit and Schedule Forms
If you do a lot of market research, the Limit and Schedule Forms feature can help you manage how and when you capture information. For example, you could schedule forms to be available only during certain seasons for information you need to collect only at specific times of the year.
You can limit the number of responses that can be submitted per form to close registration for an event automatically, or run limited prize draws and competitions to engage with your target audience.
If you’re creating a long form, you can make it less intimidating for your visitors by only showing them the form fields and questions that are relevant to them, using conditional logic. This makes it more likely that people will complete the form, since having to answer irrelevant questions can quickly cause visitors to click away without submitting.
Conditional logic can be complicated, but Gravity Forms makes the process easy through the simple creation process for this form type (as illustrated in the screenshot above). It can be enabled for form fields using the Advanced tab in the form field settings, by checking the conditional logic box and selecting the appropriate options. This means you can use conditional logic without having to leave the form field settings:
Simple Form Builder, but Not All Settings Are Beginner-Friendly
Gravity Forms inherits some of the frustrating aspects of WordPress – such as the outdated editor and settings that you may struggle to locate. If you’ve never used an online form builder before, Gravity Forms may seem overly complicated.
For the form editor itself, Gravity Forms uses a drag-and-drop interface, but it can feel a little clunky and not all that intuitive. Form fields are split into standard fields, advanced fields, post fields, and pricing fields. To edit a form field, you click on it in the editor – but the settings are split into tabs that you have to click through.
When you create a blank form, you’ll notice that there’s some in-editor guidance to help you get started. There are also tooltips you can view by hovering over the question mark symbol on form fields and settings. These can be useful if you’re not sure which settings to select.
Easy Add-On Management
Using add-ons with Gravity Forms is incredibly simple. The available add-ons can be activated and deactivated (just like with WordPress plugins) from the add-ons settings panel. When activated, these features become automatically available in the form editor.
The level of support you get with Gravity Forms depends on which license you purchase. The Basic and Pro licenses offer standard-level support, but if you opt for the Elite plan, you will benefit from priority support.
Support is available via support tickets only (there is no live chat or phone support). Gravity Forms doesn’t offer 24/7 support, either, and it’s only available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.
Gravity Forms advises that support is only available for issues with setup, existing features, and bug fixes. The support team is not able to offer support for third-party add-ons.
There is, however, a documentation section on the Gravity Forms website, which includes some user guides and a knowledge base with answers to commonly asked questions.
The majority of WordPress form builders have a free version, but Gravity Forms is an exception. You can, however, use a demo version of the plugin – Gravity Forms provides you with login details for a demo site unique to you – if you want to try it out before you buy.
You can pay via credit card (all major cards accepted) or PayPal. All payments are set up as recurring – so if you want to cancel, you may need to also cancel the recurring payment authority with your credit card or in your PayPal account.
There are three licenses, and each renews annually. The Basic License is for use on a single website, Pro Licenses allow you to install Gravity Forms on up to three websites, and the Elite License can be used on unlimited websites. The form fields and native features included in each license are identical – the primary difference between the plans is the number of websites and the included add-ons.
Gravity Forms was once the cutting edge of WordPress form builders, but it has been eclipsed by better, easier, and more powerful form builder plugins. The lack of a free version is a big downside, and the clunky, dated interface is not very user friendly. The form builder does enable you to create unlimited forms and integrates seamlessly with add-ons, however.
Other WordPress form builder plugins, with more user-friendly interfaces, can be installed for free or at a lower price, such as CaptainFormand NinjaForms. Gravity Forms just can’t compete with the newer, dynamic form builders.
Ari is passionate about web hosting and design and has been building websites with WordPress for over ten years. When he’s not testing web hosts, you’re likely to find him trying (in vain) to train his three beagles (who are better at training him than he is them!)