Free WordPress Form Plugins

Published 12 Sep 2010 in Plugins, WordPress by ZigPress

Almost all websites have (or should have) a form of some kind, to be completed by interested visitors. Whether it is a simple newsletter signup, a means of contacting the owner, or something more complex like a survey, all website authors need to be able to create a form and handle the responses that it generates.

When using WordPress to create a website, the normal (and indeed sensible) approach is to use a plugin, because the only form built in to WordPress is the fairly limited comment form. But which plugin? This article helps you compare the most well-known free WordPress form plugins – some old, some quite new.

Core Features

Different websites need forms for different purposes, and will need different features. However, there are some core features which most WordPress developers will need to use at some point, and I have focused on the features that are most important to me.

I haven’t included email alerts as a core feature, because it is offered by all the plugins I have tried.

  • Store submissions in the database

    This is vital, since alert emails can go astray. If a form submission has the possibility of generating business, you don’t want to miss one.

  • Upload files via the form

    I use this feature less often, but for the few times I do use it, it’s essential. If you need visitors to send you files or images, asking them to use email looks unprofessional.

  • All field types

    Clearly you will sometimes need more than just boxes for text. How about a set of tickboxes, or a drop-down list of options? A good forms plugin should let you set these types up easily.

  • Easy Update

    All WordPress plugins can be updated easily, right? Well, no, there’s one particular form plugin that can’t, which is why I’ve included this feature specifically.

  • Creation Method

    A GUI-based form plugin that lets you drag and drop items into place can be quicker to use, however a plugin that lets you create the form using HTML with special tags may be more flexible depending on your needs.

Summary of Findings

I have tested the most well-known free form plugins against the above criteria – here are my findings. I have included the standard WordPress comment form, partly as a comparison, and partly because if your needs are simple, it can be pressed into service as a quick and easy contact form.

[table id=1 /]

My Choice

So, which is the best? Well, I can’t answer that – clearly it depends on your needs. What I can do is tell you which ones I use.

When I need power, flexibility and lots of options, I use CForms II. It has everything – customisable emails, built-in CAPTCHA, multi-page forms, you name it.

However, CForms is not part of the WordPress plugin repository, and this means that whenever a new version is released, you need to back up your WordPress site and database, download the new version from the CForms site, FTP it up to your site, deactivate and reactivate it, check certain file permissions, then hope nothing has broken. When you have it installed on 10 or more sites, that’s a real pain in the coccyx.

So, when a project only requires fairly simple forms, I use MM Forms Community. This works much like the very popular Contact Form 7, with the added bonus of storing form submissions in the site database for future reference.

Non-free alternatives

The one commercial forms plugin that gains the most mentions and plaudits in the WordPress community is Gravity Forms. I haven’t yet found the need to buy it, but if you’re interested, check it out. Pricing starts at $39 for a single-site license.

Another non-free option might be Formidable Pro (from $37). There is a free version of this plugin but it doesn’t have enough core features to be included in this review.

Update, February 2011

I have now tried Gravity Forms, and I’m a convert. OK, it costs money, but it is streets ahead of all the free plugins. It does everything I need, it’s far easier to create new forms than any other plugin mentioned in this article (the admin user interface is a joy to use), and it’s very stable.

42 Comments

  1. On 12 Sep 2010 at 11:45, Phil @ Digital Fodder said:

    CForms II is the one I turn to the most, it’s level of customisation is superb, but updating it to the latest release is a pain like you say. We’re spoilt with all the automatic updates these days!

    If you just need a basic contact form, and you’re happy with the usual name, email, subject and message fields i’d recommend a plugin called Easy Contact. It’s not got much in the way of custimisation, but it’s useful for beginners .

  2. On 13 Sep 2010 at 09:59, Andrew @ Blogging Guide said:

    Great list. I am planning on changing my contact form. Will start from your list of which one would really be suitable for me.

  3. On 13 Sep 2010 at 17:54, Sarees Online said:

    I use Contact Form 7 in wordpress. I have a simple use of form. However, I am thinking about form with captcha and hope CFormsII is suitable for it.

  4. On 13 Sep 2010 at 23:22, Biletul Zilei Pariuri said:

    If you just need a basic contact form, and you’re happy with the usual name, email, subject and message fields i’d recommend a plugin called Easy Contact.

  5. On 14 Sep 2010 at 01:26, Bob Dunn said:

    I initially was a big fan of cforms and was using it on a lot of client sites and my own, where we needed a more robust form, as opposed to Contact Form 7, which I have use for basic sites.

    But lately I found cforms would just stop working, and this wasn’t due to updates, or other plugin installs. Either I would have to reinstall and it would start working, or it just never worked again. Too much hassle.

    So I move to Gravity Forms. I know it’s not free, but the low cost you pay to get support, updates and all of its flexibility, is well worth it. And if you depend on your contact forms for potential clients to get hold of it, or hire you, something stable is invaluable.

    I always think this way– when someone finally let’s me know that my form isn’t working, how many others tried and said the heck with it and went somewhere else!

  6. On 14 Sep 2010 at 22:04, Carpet Guy said:

    I use contact from 7 also. BTW, gotta say, that is the coolest tag cloud I have seen.

  7. On 15 Sep 2010 at 02:16, Cert Exams said:

    Useful comparison. I thick the best way to find the suitable one is to experiment and see.

  8. On 15 Sep 2010 at 08:59, Elise said:

    Very informative article indeed
    …been using Contact form 7 but will try CForms II

  9. On 16 Sep 2010 at 19:25, Julia Corner said:

    I personally use contact form 7 for my blogs, but I dont’ use them for more them email fill out forms.

  10. On 18 Sep 2010 at 07:02, Spokane Web Designer said:

    Gonna give CForms a shot on the next wordpress website I build. I cant see paying that kind of cash for 1 license for a form, you could probably pay someone the same for 2 hours of custom form plug-in programming and put it across all of your websites.

  11. On 20 Sep 2010 at 06:36, justino said:

    I prefer Contact Form 7 by far.

  12. On 20 Sep 2010 at 06:49, William Papadimitriou said:

    Thanks, this is so useful, zigpress!

  13. On 21 Sep 2010 at 04:45, metal water bottle said:

    It looks like Contact Form 7 is the ticket. I will be testing that out. I might also check out the MM Forms Community plugin, as it has all the features I am looking for also.

  14. On 21 Sep 2010 at 07:30, Seo Queensland said:

    I cant see paying that kind of cash for 1 license for a form, you could probably pay someone the same for 2 hours of custom form plug-in programming and put it across all of your websites.

  15. On 21 Sep 2010 at 16:49, Objets Publicitaires said:

    CFormsII is clearly the best contact form plugin for Wordpress. Customisable, easy to use and not a source of problem with mail delivery system

  16. On 21 Sep 2010 at 18:31, George Mackay said:

    For the ole blog I have enjoyed MM Forms myself. Does exactly what I need and isn’t too much of a hassle to use.

  17. On 22 Sep 2010 at 18:07, web design leeds said:

    I try to avoid plugin forms wherever possible because you can easily hard code your own into wordpress themes without much fuss. Nice to see what’s available though.

  18. On 23 Sep 2010 at 20:26, Minnesota SEO said:

    We use CFormsII. I think connecting / integrating already established plug-ins are the way to go. Why recreate the wheel?

  19. On 26 Sep 2010 at 15:14, Alex @ Jacksonville Roofing said:

    I have been using contact form 7 for a long time now. Still suits me well. But thanks for the pros and cons for different types of contact from plugins.

  20. On 27 Sep 2010 at 15:36, 3D Animationen said:

    I have been using CFormsII for a long time now, but recently I have shifted to Gravity Forms, and all I can say it’s really worth the money. I specially like the “conditional logics” feature, from my point of view a must have in order to make forms as cluttered as your visitors want them to be. You present them with a simple form that can be filled in a breeze, but it can get longer if they’re willing to input more data. My 2 cents!

  21. On 28 Sep 2010 at 12:54, java software company said:

    CFormsII is clearly the best contact form plugin for WordPress. Customisable, easy to use and not a source of problem with mail delivery system

  22. On 28 Sep 2010 at 19:28, web design said:

    Contact form 7 is my preferred plugin, but having said that I haven’t tried the others. CF7 is incredibly simple to use and easy to install, which is pretty much all i’m after. Might give the other ones a look though

  23. On 28 Sep 2010 at 21:48, Francis said:

    I am using CForms II to power my blog’s contact form as well as the order forms for some products that I am selling. Upgrading is definite a more tedious process but it doesn’t happen that often.

  24. On 29 Sep 2010 at 17:02, Karen Mae Farro said:

    CFormsII is incomparable to any other contact form plug-in for WordPress. It is so fitting to all the websites I have created.

  25. On 30 Sep 2010 at 16:29, Penny Auction said:

    I use Contact Form 7 myself and it has been very good. The only thing is that you need a separate CAPCHA plugin installed and not integrated.

  26. On 01 Oct 2010 at 15:44, Bonjour Tristesse said:

    Checking out CFormsII after all the glowing reviews here.

  27. On 02 Oct 2010 at 14:52, Jean Galea said:

    In my opinion Cforms is the best free form plugin, but Gravity Forms is well worth the money as it is quite superior and hassle-free. The user interface is so much bettter as well.

  28. On 04 Oct 2010 at 21:17, Harry Holsinger said:

    I echo Jean’s opinion on Cforms. Works great for the sites that I’ve added the plugin too.

  29. On 06 Oct 2010 at 10:36, buscar pareja said:

    This comparison is very useful. CForms II is my favorite plug-in as well, it’s a very good one.

  30. On 16 Oct 2010 at 14:55, [email protected] carpet tile said:

    I’ve been building forms for years. As someone mentioned its not a huge deal to manually integrate a form into a template with a non-plugin processor…but wow, it’s hard to overlook the speed and power of Cforms. Updating is a pain, but a small price to pay.

  31. On 19 Oct 2010 at 11:48, Leeah Otis said:

    I personally use & love Contact Form 7 and use it for all my projects utilizing Wordpress :)

  32. On 23 Oct 2010 at 14:57, Golden Sun said:

    Hmm, I’ve been looking for a good script to use on one of my blogs for this purpose. This article helped a lot, thank you!

  33. On 23 Oct 2010 at 19:00, 8a Certification said:

    Thanks for the tips. I use Formbuilder and it works for us.

  34. On 27 Oct 2010 at 00:16, Shannon Suetos said:

    Thanks for this list. I have been researching different plugins for WordPress.

  35. On 19 Nov 2010 at 05:51, Vang Vieng said:

    I tried nearly all of the free contact form plugins that wordpress have to offer , but they all seemed a bit complicated for a newbie like me , until i discovered the GBCF plugin , works fine for me. Maybe when i get a bit more experience i’ll try the others.

  36. On 22 Nov 2010 at 00:06, Michael Bianchi said:

    I have been using contact form 7 for a while now, but now that I know of other, I may try them. Thanks for the informative post

  37. On 03 Dec 2010 at 07:07, Previa Dealers said:

    I think contact form 7 is simply the best. No issues with it. Anyway tips were useful. I would like to stay in touch with this post. Thanks for sharing with us.

  38. On 06 Dec 2010 at 20:54, Cid said:

    Thanks for the for plugin suggestions. Just installed contact form 7 and my visitors thank you!

  39. On 14 Jan 2011 at 03:55, Cleveland Web Design said:

    Gravity Forms is a great Wordpress Plugin, but it’s not free :(

    I love your table – what plug-in is it?

  40. On 14 Jan 2011 at 19:52, ZigPress said:

    @Cleveland Web Design: it’s called WP-Table Reloaded.

  41. On 10 Dec 2012 at 15:27, John said:

    Hi all.
    I want to add one more wordpress form plugin – http://web-dorado.com/products/wordpress-form.html

  42. On 16 Feb 2013 at 03:30, Ricardo said:

    I need a form plugin that is hable to send the email depending on the choices made.

    Better explaining:
    User selects Option A1 and B3
    The email is sent to [email protected]

    But if user selects A2 and B1
    The email is sent to a different email address such as [email protected]

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks!!! :)