How to Add Web Forms for a WordPress Site Using Plugins

Some WordPress website owners need to provide a way for their visitors to contact them directly via e-mail. You don’t want to publish your actual e-mail address on your website, because people run special programs — called bots or spiders — that travel around the Internet and collect published e-mail addresses.

After these programs collect hundreds, thousands, or even millions of e-mail addresses, they create a database of user e-mail addresses and sell them to marketing companies. That’s how a lot of people end up with gobs of spam in their inboxes!

If at all possible, never, ever publish your e-mail address directly on your website. Instead, use an easy form that your website visitors can fill out to e-mail you. Here’s an example of an e-mail contact form at lisasabin-wilson.com/contact.

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Different types of forms you can use on your site

The e-mail contact form is a simple example of a form you can build and include on your WordPress website. However, you can build several other kinds of forms to help fulfill the individual needs of your website. Here are some examples of forms you can build and display on your website:

  • Order forms: Collect the information you need from your customers by creating an order form with the necessary fields that they complete before sending the form to you. You can find an example of an order form at webdevstudios.com/contact. Potential clients who are interested in receiving project quotes are asked to fill in different types of fields (such as their budget and site specifications).

  • Surveys: Ask customers to review your product or services, or provide testimonials for your business.

  • Lead-generation forms: Collect information on your readership and customer base. This form is the opt-in type, and it allows you to build a database of contacts to send updates and newsletters to.

Helpful plugins to create forms

These two plugins are great options for creating forms: Contact Form 7 (available on the Plugin Directory page) and Gravity Forms (a commercial plugin).

Contact Form 7

The Contact Form 7 plugin provides a quick-and-easy solution to include a simple e-mail contact form on your site. This plugin, freely available from the Plugin Directory page, can be installed from the Dashboard. To do so:

  1. Choose Plugins→Add New to go to the Install Plugins page in your Dashboard, and then type Contact Form 7 in the search box to find the plugin.

  2. Install and activate the plugin using the site directions.

    After the plugin is activated, the Contact menu item is added to the Dashboard menu.

  3. Click Contact to go to an option page where you can build the contact form and get the short code to add it to a page within your site.

    You can find the short code to include in your page at the top:

    [contact-form 1 "Contact form 1"]
  4. Copy that short code, and then add it into any page where you want to display the contact form on your site.

    You can even paste the code into a text widget to include the form in your sidebar.

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Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms is a commercially available plugin for WordPress that's much more robust than Contact Form 7. If you need a more integrated solution with several tools to help you build different types of forms, get a more complex plugin like Gravity Forms. This plugin allows you to include a simple e-mail form and also provides additional features that make it a primary solution for many designers and developers.

This list describes some of the features of Gravity Forms:

  • An easy-to-use, click-and-add form builder — no need to know, or even understand, any HTML, CSS, or PHP code. The form fields are all ready for you to simply click and add to your new form — no HTML, PHP, or CSS required, because it’s all done for you.

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  • Multiple e-mail routing that allows you to not only have the form results e-mailed to you but also designate multiple e-mail addresses that the form should be delivered to.

  • Conditional form fields that allow you to build forms that are intuitive. You can show or hide a form field based on the value the user enters in previous fields within the form.

  • Form scheduling that’s helpful if you have a form you want to make available only during a certain, predefined period.

  • Form limits that allow you to limit the number of times the form can be filled out before it’s deactivated. This feature is helpful if you’re running a time-sensitive contest, for example, where the first 25 people to fill out the form win a special prize. The form is then deactivated after it’s been filled out by 25 people.

  • Dashboard management that allows you to view and respond to the results of the form from a designated page within your WordPress Dashboard.

  • Easily embed a form within a page (or post) on your website by using the Gravity Forms icon that’s added to the Edit Page, and Edit Post, editors. Click the icon and choose the form you want to embed, and then WordPress enters the correct short code for the display of the form on your site.

  • Integration with MailChimp, a popular provider for e-newsletters that many businesses and individuals use. Gravity Forms makes a MailChimp add-on available to allow your site visitors to easily subscribe to your e-newsletter when they fill out forms on your website.

Because Gravity Forms is a commercially available plugin, you download it from the Gravity Forms website and then manually install it on your WordPress site via FTP. Pricing starts at $39 for a single site license and increases to $199 for a developer license. The prices listed on the site are annual prices, so plan to pay the annual subscription to maintain your access to future upgrades and support.

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