In the dynamic world of online business, engaging with your audience is key. One of the most effective ways to do this is by incorporating online forms into your WordPress website. These digital tools not only enable seamless communication with customers but also provide valuable insights that can help shape your business strategy.
Whether you're a novice or a tech-savvy entrepreneur, this guide will walk you through the process of creating online forms for your WordPress site, from understanding their significance to choosing the right tools and services.
Why Websites Need Online Forms
Online forms serve as the virtual bridge between you and your visitors, enabling interaction beyond the confines of traditional communication channels. By integrating forms on your website, you can effortlessly capture user data, feedback, inquiries, or direct customer inquiries. These forms transform static websites into interactive platforms, fostering a sense of engagement and connection.
Imagine a platform where your visitors can seamlessly reach out, share insights, and make inquiries with just a few clicks. This isn't a mere concept; it's the power of online forms in action. These digital envoys hold the potential to transform static web pages into interactive experiences, fostering a sense of involvement that resonates deeply with your audience.
Beyond their role in facilitating communication, online forms can be an invaluable source of insights. Every click, every response, and every data point collected paints a vivid picture of your audience's preferences, aspirations, and concerns. Armed with this wealth of information, you're empowered to refine your business strategy, shape marketing campaigns, and elevate user experiences in ways that resonate with your target demographic.
Types Of Online Forms
There are many types of forms that you might wish to integrate into your website, each serving a unique purpose depending on your business goals. Here are a few of the most common:
- Contact Forms: The virtual equivalent of a handshake; contact forms allow visitors to reach out to you directly. Gather crucial contact details while making it easy for potential clients to initiate conversations. and making it easy for you to reach back out to them in the future with items of interest to them.
- Surveys and Feedback Forms: Understanding your audience is vital. Surveys and feedback forms provide insights into customer preferences, pain points, and suggestions for improvement.
- Subscription Forms: Build a loyal readership or customer base by offering visitors the chance to subscribe to newsletters, updates, or special offers.
- Order and Payment Forms: For ecommerce ventures, order and payment forms simplify the purchasing process, enhancing user experience.
- Job Application Forms: Hiring? Streamline the application process by utilizing online forms to collect candidate information.
The Best Plugins And Services For Creating Online Forms
Creating online forms doesn't necessarily require coding expertise, thanks to a plethora of WordPress plugins and third-party services. Here are a few great options to consider which will work with your WordPress website, ranging from free and user-friendly, to complicated form builders which support conditional logic, business integrations, and more.
With a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, WPForms is perfect for beginners. It offers customizable templates, advanced features, and seamless integration with email marketing services.
Supports Conditional Logic: Known for its user-friendly interface, WPForms also offers robust conditional logic capabilities. You can easily set up rules to show or hide fields, making your forms highly personalized.
Free Version: WPForms offers both a free version and a premium version with more advanced features, including conditional logic. The free version provides basic form-building capabilities, but to access conditional logic and other advanced features, you would need to consider upgrading to a premium plan.
Supports Business Integrations: WP Forms offers integrations with a variety of third-party services and platforms, including email marketing services like MailChimp, AWeber, and Constant Contact; payment gateways such as Stripe and Paypal; CRM tools such as Salesforce and Hubspot, and integration with Zapier, which allows you to connect WPForms with literally thousands of other applications.
Contact Form 7
This plugin is a veteran in the field. Although it requires a bit more technical know-how, it's highly customizable and can be tailored to suit your specific needs.
Supports Conditional Logic: Contact Form 7 doesn't support conditional logic out of the box, but you can use their "Conditional Fields" addon to achieve this functionality. A great plugin with 25+ add-on features for Contact Form 7 (including conditional logic) can be found at Ultimate Addons, and it includes multi-step forms, star ratings, redirects, booking forms, and much more.
Free Version: Contact Form 7 is 100% free and comes bundled into most WordPress installations out of the box.
Supports Business Integrations: Without using addons, Contact Form 7 integrates with Brevo and Constant Contact (Email marketing tools), Akismet (spam protection), reCAPTCHA (form security), and Stripe (payment gateway.) There are also plugins or services available which extend the integration capabilities of Contact Form 7 to other applications.
If aesthetics are a priority, Typeform's visually appealing forms engage respondents effectively. Its interactive approach creates a conversational experience, resulting in higher completion rates.
Supports Conditional Logic: Though not a native WordPress plugin, Typeform's interactive forms and conditional logic create engaging user experiences that can be embedded seamlessly into your WordPress website.
Free Version: Typeform is not a WordPress plugin but a standalone form builder service. It offers a free basic plan with limited features and branding, and its more advanced features, including conditional logic, are available in paid plans.
Supports Business Integrations: Typeform, as a standalone form builder, offers integrations through its "Connect" feature. This feature enables connections with applications such as Google Sheets, Email marketing services such as MailChimp and HubSpot, CRM platforms such as Salesforce and Pipedrive, and even Slack for team communication and notifications.
Gravity Forms is a premium WordPress plugin that empowers users to create versatile and interactive online forms with advanced features, including conditional logic and seamless integrations. It is especially robust in offerings if you are an advanced user with complex needs.
Supports Conditional Logic: Gravity Forms allows for complex conditional logic setups, catering to advanced users. It supports multi-page forms that adapt based on previous responses.
Free Version: It is not available for free. Users need to purchase a license to use the plugin, and the cost varies based on the type of license and features included.
Supports Business Integrations: Gravity Forms easily and seamlessly integrates with a variety of third-party services and platforms, including email marketing services like MailChimp, MailPoet, and Campaign Monitor; payment gateways such as Stripe, Authorize.net and PayPal; CRM tools such as Salesforce and Zoho CRM, and integration with Zapier, which enables thousands of other applications.
What Is Conditional Logic? Do I Need It?
Conditional logic is a smart feature that makes your online forms responsive to the choices users make while filling them out. It allows you to show or hide form fields, sections, or entire questions based on specific conditions. In other words, your form becomes smart, displaying only the relevant information based on user input. This not only streamlines the user experience but also allows you to gather accurate and targeted data.
Examples Of Conditional Logic
- Dynamic Pricing: Imagine you're running a workshop with different pricing tiers for students and professionals. With conditional logic, you can display relevant pricing options based on whether the user selects "Student" or "Professional" in an initial dropdown question.
- Follow-up Questions: If you're conducting a customer feedback survey, you can use conditional logic to ask follow-up questions based on the user's initial response. For instance, if they rate your service as "Poor," you can trigger a series of questions to understand the specific issues they encountered.
- Customized Experiences: In an event registration form, you can use conditional logic to offer attendees various session choices. If a participant selects "Design Workshops," the form can dynamically display related workshop options, tailoring the user's experience.
Why Use Conditional Logic?
- Enhanced User Experience: By displaying only relevant fields, users are spared from navigating through unnecessary information, making the form-filling process quicker and more user-friendly.
- Accurate Data Collection: With tailored questions, you gather precise information. For instance, if a user indicates they prefer digital marketing, subsequent questions can pertain specifically to that area.
- Engagement and Interaction: Dynamic forms feel interactive and engaging, boosting user satisfaction and potentially increasing completion rates.
The digital world demands adaptability, and conditional logic brings that extra sauce to your online forms. Imagine a form that anticipates user needs, responds to their choices, and tailors the experience accordingly. By embracing this feature, you'll enhance user engagement, collect more accurate data, and offer a polished interactive experience that stands out. Elevate your forms from static to dynamic, and watch as your audience engages with your content in ways you never thought possible.
Do I Need A Form Plugin That Supports Integration?
Three of the four plugins I've mentioned here - WPForms, Gravity Forms, and Typeform - offer integrations to other services right out of the box, and Contact Form 7 can be modified with addons to achieve that functionality. The specific integrations available will depend on the plugin and the plan you choose. Integrations can enhance the functionality of your forms by allowing data to flow seamlessly between your forms and other tools you use for marketing, customer management, analytics, and more. Before deciding on a plugin, it's recommended to review their integration options to ensure they align with your business needs and workflows.
Why Choose a Plugin with Integrations With Other Services?
- Streamlined Data Flow: Integrations facilitate the seamless exchange of information between your forms and other tools you use in your business operations. This eliminates manual data entry, reduces errors, and ensures that data flows effortlessly through your ecosystem.
- Enhanced Automation: Integrations enable you to automate various tasks based on form submissions. This saves time and allows you to focus on higher-value activities, knowing that critical processes are being handled automatically.
- Centralized Data Management: By integrating your forms with other platforms, you can centralize your data management. This helps in maintaining consistent and up-to-date information across different tools.
What Are Some Examples Of Integrations For My Online Forms That I Might Find Useful As A Business?
- Email Marketing Automation: Integrating your forms with email marketing platforms like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or HubSpot can be a game-changer. When users subscribe to your newsletter or fill out a contact form, their information can automatically be added to your email list. This ensures that your audience receives updates and promotions without manual input.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Integrating forms with CRM systems like Salesforce, Zoho CRM, or HubSpot CRM allows you to capture leads and customer data directly into your CRM database. For instance, if someone fills out a lead generation form, their details can automatically be recorded as potential leads in your CRM for further nurturing.
- Ecommerce and Payment Processing: If you're running an online store, integrating your forms with payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, or Square enables customers to make purchases directly through the form. This seamless integration ensures a smooth checkout process and reduces the likelihood of abandoned carts.
- Analytics and Data Tracking: Integrating your forms with analytics tools like Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel enables you to track user behavior beyond form submissions. You can gain insights into how users interact with your site after submitting forms, helping you refine your marketing strategies.
- Project Management and Collaboration: Integrating forms with project management tools like Trello, Asana, or Slack can streamline your workflow. For instance, a support request form submission could automatically create a task in your project management tool, ensuring timely follow-up.
- Social Media Engagement: Integrating forms with social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn allows users to share their information or content directly from your forms to their social profiles, expanding your reach organically.
In essence, choosing a plugin with integrations empowers you to connect the dots across your digital ecosystem. It transforms isolated processes into a cohesive orchestration of tools that work together harmoniously, saving you time, effort, and resources while enriching your engagement with customers and prospects.
How To Build A Simple Form Using Contact Form 7
You've learned now that you have many plugins and services to choose from when it comes to building custom forms on your WordPress website, so let's start building one using the plugin that often comes free and embedded in your WordPress installation out of the box: Contact Form 7.
Inside your WordPress admin panel, you'll go to Contact -> Contact Forms. In the resulting screen, you will see the basic contact form that comes with your installation, so let's start by editing the form that's already here:
Your shortcode will likely be different from mine. What is a shortcode? The shortcode is the small snippet of code you can copy and paste to install your completed form on your WordPress website pages.
Contact Form 7's "Contact form 1" works right out of the box - if you wanted, you could use this shortcode without making any edits to the form, and make sure that your Admin email address in your WordPress settings is up-to-date (it defaults to sending to the admin email.) But what if you wanted to make changes? Hover over the title of the form and click "Edit":
In the resulting screen, you will start off on the "Form" tab, where you can see the code for your form. The buttons across the top are things you can add to your form. In addition to the name, email, subject and message, let's collect a telephone number as well. You can add this by clicking the "tel" button at the top of the code box:
In the resulting screen, you can see now that we have added a telephone number field to our form. But wait, that doesn't look right! Contact Form 7 added the field directly to the top of the form, first thing:
Let's make a label for it by copying and pasting an existing label, then moving it to where we want it to go in the form. Let's put it right under the "Email" field:
That's better. Oops! We forgot to check the "required" box, and we want the phone number to be required! You can require the field by adding an asterisk to the field name, no spaces, like in the name and email examples above.
Now that we have our form fields collecting the information we want, let's go the "Mail" tab. Here is where we can control where our form is going and what kind of messages it sends to us. We can add content to that message, and more:
The next tab is the "Messages" tab, where we can control the verbiage of the way our form interacts with visitors to our website. It is already populated with standard language, so changing these is strictly optional:
Great! Now we're ready to start collecting contact information. Click "Save" at the bottom of the page and you're ready to install your Contact Form shortcode on your WordPress website pages. You can add new forms for other purposes by clicking the "Add New" option at the top of your Contact Forms admin page.
When To Enlist Professional Help
While the aforementioned tools empower you to create online forms independently, there are instances when seeking professional assistance is a wise decision. Here are some potential scenarios where you might wish to call a web development agency or freelance developer:
- Complex Functionalities: If your form requires intricate functionalities such as conditional logic or integration with external databases, a developer's expertise might be necessary.
- Custom Design: To ensure your form aligns seamlessly with your website's design and branding, a developer can provide a polished and professional touch.
- Data Security: If your forms involve collecting sensitive data like payment details, enlisting a developer can ensure robust security measures are in place.
- Preference: Setting up WordPress plugins may not be your jam. There's no shame in not wanting to deal with it, and you may want to simply let a professional manage your online forms for you, since that is their jam!
In today's ever-changing digital world, building strong relationships with your audience is crucial. Online forms on your website serve as an excellent bridge to not only gather valuable insights but also nurture potential leads and optimize your business operations.
While there's a wealth of intuitive tools and plugins available to help you design these forms, occasionally the touch of a seasoned developer can add a dimension of sophistication and innovation. By leveraging the capabilities of online forms, you're not just boosting engagement with your audience but also refining the overall performance of your WordPress site.
Consider delving into the world of online forms and witness the significant impact they can have on your digital footprint. And for top-tier expertise in this domain, White Whale Web stands ready to assist. Contact us if you need some our professional web development help!