What is Gravity Forms?
If you’re a WordPress user, you’ve probably heard of Gravity Forms. It’s one of the leading form building plugins, and can do anything from a simple contact form to a college admission application. You can read about features and pricing here.
I’ve used Gravity Forms for many years. At first, I found it intimidating, but once I installed the plugin and started using it, I realized how simple it really is to create forms.
As a reminder, a WordPress plugin is a piece of software that you install on WordPress that provides a bit of extra functionality.
How Can I Use Gravity Forms?
When you add Gravity Forms to WordPress, it creates a menu on the left sidebar under Forms. To create a new form, click Forms and you’ll see a list of your forms, or a get started message if you haven’t yet built a form.
Click Add New at the top, then give your form a name and click Create Form.
Then you’ll see this window which tells you exactly what to do now.
Each bit of information you collect, like name, email address, phone number, etc., is a separate field. There are four types of fields within Gravity Forms:
1. Standard Fields
These are basic form fields, such as single-line text fields, paragraph text fields, radio buttons (round buttons that allow you to select only one option), checkboxes, multi select, dropdown and more. You’ve probably encountered them in surveys, questionnaires, exams, quizzes or applications. If you have true/false, yes/no, or multiple-choice-type questions, these will work well.
2. Advanced Fields
Advanced fields are specific forms of data that are regularly collected via web forms. Examples of advanced fields include name, address, email, phone number, time and website. When these inputs are used, they will be recognized as the types of data they represent and formatted as such in your form results.
3. Post Fields
These fields allow you to create post drafts in WordPress from the submitted data. You may not use this type of form field much unless you accept post submissions from others.
4. Price Fields
These are useful if you’re selling items on your website. Product, Quantity, Options (you might use this for size and/or color), Shipping, and Total are the available price fields. You can also build nonprofit donation forms with Gravity Forms, using the price fields.
How Do I Build a Form?
Form Field Options
Building a form in Gravity Forms is the easy part. Figuring out the information you want to collect is much more difficult.
All you have to do is click on the field in the right column. Once it’s added, it will appear on the left side. If you hover over the name of the field, you’ll see a down arrow on the top bar. Click that arrow to expand the field options.
Just to the right of the arrow is the Duplicate icon. This will make a copy of your form field, which can come in handy on other fields you may include.
Here, I’ve clicked on Name. The Field Label tells the user what to enter in that field. You can change the label or hide it. Here I’ve changed it to Your Name to be more personal.
The Description provides more information to the user about what kind of information you need. You can leave it blank if there are no particular instructions, or use it to clarify potentially confusing fields.
Under Description, you can toggle on and off information like prefix, suffix, and middle name. Check the Required box if you want to require that information before the form is submitted.
Now click the Appearance tab. Placeholders are the text that appears inside the form field. You’ve probably seen forms that don’t have labels, but just the placeholder, like my contact form below. You can hide the form labels under the Field Label Visibility option.
You can also add your own custom validation message (this tells the user that the form has been filled out correctly and will be submitted) and a CSS class to the form if you want more styling control.
On the Advanced tab, you can add an admin name for the form field. If you want to pre-populate the field to save the user a second or so of time, you can do that under Default Values. This could be useful if you expect all or most of your users to be from the same geographic area, have the same prefix or suffix, or common answers to any field.
Under the Visibility option, you can hide the field from the user and only show it to the admin.
The last option under Advanced is Conditional Logic. You may have seen this in action if you’ve ever filled out a survey. Depending on your answer to a question, other form fields may appear. It’s also used when you’re building a donation form, but that’s for another post.
You can preview your form by clicking Preview at the top of the form building area. The preview does not represent how the form will actually look on the page, as when it’s actually added to a page the styling will be in line with the overall site style (CSS).
Here you control form-wide settings. The most important field here is the copy for your Submit button. Never leave this on Submit. If it’s a contact form, use something like Send or other text that is more welcoming and friendly.
Save and Continue is useful if you’re building a multi-page form, such as a detailed job or college application form.
This page allows you to set the confirmation message the user sees when they complete the form. You can also redirect them to a page or URL of your choice. This works well if you want to send them to a Thank You page on completion of the form.
Notifications controls what you see when a user fills out your form. You’ll get an email to the address you enter; it defaults to the admin email address for the website. I like to display everything as it allows me to see the form entry without opening the admin dashboard.
There are too many add-ons to count, but nearly every email service and payment gateway has a Gravity Forms add-on, which allows the two services to communicate. For example, if you’re going to accept payments or donations, you’ll need PayPal or another payment gateway to process the credit cards.
All of the major email marketing providers offer Gravity Forms add-ons, which allows you to create an email capture form easily. One advantage of using Gravity Forms instead of a form embed is that the forms have the same look and feel of your other forms.
Go to Forms > Add–Ons to see what’s available.
How Do I See My Form Entries?
Under the Forms menu, click Entries. You’ll select which form you want to view entries for, then you can click on any entry and view its details. To save all or selected form entries in a .CSV file, go to Import/Export, choose Export Entries and select which form you want to export entries for.
You can also export and import forms, which is helpful if you have more than one website and want to duplicate a form on another site.
How to Display Your Form on Your Website
If you’re using Gutenberg, adding your form is dead simple. Click the plus icon below your current block to add a new block. Start typing Gravity Forms and the form block will appear in the window. Click it to add the form.
Then select which form you want to add.
If you’re using the Classic Editor, you can use the Gravity Forms shortcode
to insert the form in the text window where you want it to appear.
This shortcode will add form 1 to my page, it will not display the form title or description (“false”), it will use Ajax to submit form data, and the tab index of 49 lets the user use the tab key to advance through the form fields. A higher number is better.
Now admire the lovely form you just created. The form will fit to the size of the content area it’s in.
Is Gravity Forms For Me?
If all you need is a simple contact form, perhaps not. It’s powerful and flexible, but there are other plugins that can give you the basics for far less money.
A Basic license for Gravity Forms is $59/year for one site. If you want unlimited sites, you’ll have to spend $259/year. This is good for developers and website designers who use Gravity Forms for client sites.