450 – Plugin Review: Form Builders
In today’s episode, we talk about two premium form builder plugins, Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms and which one is right for you.
Full TranscriptBusiness Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.
On today’s episode, we are going to talk about and compare two different premium form plug-ins, and those are Ninja Forms and Gravity Forms, right here on YourWebsiteEngineer podcast, episode #450.
Hello and welcome to another episode of YourWebsiteEngineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler and we are winding down the month of July. Okay, I can’t believe that July is almost over, but that means my sabbatical is almost over, and I’m about ready to jump back into day-to-day WordPress. It seems like I’ve just been kind of out of the loop lately and it’s been a good, welcome break, and I’m excited to get back. I do kind of enjoy the summertime without having to do any work and working on house projects and building the deck and doing all these things. But, yeah, it’s getting to the point where I’m almost back into a routine. I’m starting to use my computer just a little bit more and just get back into the swing of things and learning what’s going on in the WordPress space.
I have no idea what’s going on with e-commerce or what has happened. I’ve literally been off email from work and slacking and whatnot for months, so I have no idea what’s going on. I’m maybe on a different team. Who knows? I’ll find out in a couple of weeks. But we’re continuing the summer series and the sabbatical series talking about premium plug-ins, and which ones are worth the cost, and which ones you should entertain purchasing, or which ones – I’m just doing a review on some of those plug-ins that are out there. The two form plug-ins that I used, and I have used in the past are, Ninja Forms and Gravity Forms. We’re going to talk about those a little bit. We’re going to compare them and see which ones are actually worth the money.
If you have ever tried to look for a contact form plug-in, you’re probably noticed that there are a plethora of options that are out there. There’s so many that are out there, the one that is a free plug-in that a lot of people use is Contact Form 7. It can take care of your basic needs, but if you need something that’s a little bit more attractive, you need something that has just a little more oomph behind it, you probably need to explore some of the commercial options, or some of those paid options. Today, the ones that we’re going to talk about, like I said, are Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms.
Gravity Forms has been around longer than Ninja Forms and has earned a strong reputation as the go-top premium WordPress form plug-in, but since its release in 2011, Ninja Forms has been amassing features and refining its user interface to emerge as a more-than-worthy contender. It used to be that I used Gravity Forms. I had the developer level Gravity Forms and every time – every year that the renewal came up, I just automatically hit that button and said, “Yes, I’ll pay whatever the $100, $200 it was,” because I was using it on all my websites. As the years went on, it got to the point where I was not building websites for clients anymore. I wasn’t really in the need for a commercial contact form. Most of my contact forms are just basic, “Send me an email” type things, so I didn’t need a lot of features.
So, I don’t know, three years ago or so, I decided to check out Ninja Forms, and then I moved all of my sites to Ninja Forms. So, I have experience with both of them, and both of them look very nice on the backend. They’re both very comprehensive tools for working with different forms and building forms. They have a few different features, but for the most part, they are very, very similar. They have – you can create number – each plug-in will allow you to create unlimited forms for your sites, so there’s no limit to the number of submissions that a form can accept.
They also restored – all the submissions are stored in your WordPress database, and you can access them through your admin dashboard, or you can send out a number – you can send out your emails to your inboxes as well. Where this is good is, maybe you have a contact form or maybe you’re running an event, and somebody’s in charge of – two or three people are in charge of responding all of the contact form requests. They can come in right into your email dashboard, and then they can go in and look at them, and respond accordingly through there, so that’s really nice. Both of them also have unlimited – not unlimited, but they have a ton of different form field types.
What this means is you have the ability to add a text box or a checks box or a list or a hidden field or a phone number or a website or a file upload. You can add a password. You can do payment fields if you wanted to have payment fields as part of the checkout process. It makes it really nice, especially the address one. You just drag the address section in, and it adds the street, it adds the state of the city and the ZIP. So, that’s really, really handy. It allows you to create those forms and they’re all drag and droppable, which is really nice. You can just drag the features in that you need.
With Contact Form 7, which is the free one, you have to manually create shortcodes for each of those forms that you need, and then you also have to build the email that sends when somebody submits a form. With Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms, it automatically does that for you, so you can – it sends the information in the same order that is presented in the form, which is really, really nice. So, those are some of the features between the two that are very similar, and you can also do with them – they also have some conditional fields, which is really nice. If it says, “Until you put a form field in this, maybe it’s one of those” – I’m trying to think of a good example, but if you check this box, then another field appears, so it’s conditional formatting. So, if this happens and this happens, then it shows you this field, or if this happens and this happens, remove this field. Things along those lines, which is really, really nice.
They also have integrations with other things. So, like, email marketing services and payment gateways, CRMs, notification services, e-commerce platforms, and project management apps. There’s not a lot to separate the two. There are available in different configurations and whatnot, but it really depends – the pricing on the add-ons are really what sets the two apart, so we’ll talk about that. Let’s see, Ninja Forms is free out of the box, and then if you need additional things, if you need the ability to go for multiple sites, or if you want some of the add-ons and extensions, then that’s when you have to start paying and that’s where you start getting some of the different price points.
With the personal plan, it is $99.00 per year, $199.00 for professional, and then the agency is $499.00 per year. The add-ons range anywhere between $29.00 and $129.00. The add-ons are the conditional logic. I guess that is an add-on. If you want to have people be able to upload multiple things or do file uploads, that’s an add-on. If you need special layouts or styles or you want to use user analytics or you want to connect with AWeber or MailPoet or PayPal or Insightly or Sendly or Elavon or Zapier or Slack or – all of those things are going to be premium add-ons, and you’d have to pay for those either,
I guess, if you go with the add-ons one-by-one add-ons, they’re going to cost you per site. But, like, if you use the professional plans on Ninja Forms, it’s $199.00 per year. It goes for 20 sites and then it shows some of the integrations that you can use. You also get a discount on any future add-on purchase, if you’d like.
But when it comes to Gravity Forms and their pricing structure, they start at $59.00 per year for one site. It’s got unlimited forms, unlimited entries. It does include conditional logic. It does file uploads and has some very basic add-ons. And then you go to the pro license and it goes to three sites, and then the elite license is for unlimited site for $259.00. So, as those price points get higher, you get more and more add-ons.
Gravity Forms has basic add-ons, they have pro add-ons, and they have elite add-ons. The basic add-ons are Active Campaign, AWeber, Campaign Monitor, basically all of the email marketing, MailChimp, Map Mini, Eye Contact, all that kind of stuff, are basic add-ons. The pro ones are the ones that are connecting with Agile CRM or Matchbook or Breeze, Campfire Dropbox, there’s a ton of them there. And then the elite ones that go with the check-out forms, So, Two Check-Out or Authorize.net or polls or quiz or signatures or Stripe or surveys or web hosts or whatnot.
Basically, with the way to think about it is, if you just need a very standard and generic contact form on your website, the two are going to be very comparable out of the box, except for the fact that Ninja Forms is completely free to use, and you can set that up completely for free. With Gravity Forms, you’re going to have to buy at least the lowest level price, which is at least $59.00 per year. But if you need something like file uploads, conditional logic, those two price point things, you’ll need to buy separately for Ninja Forms. So, it just really depends on what the application is.
I think most of regular websites that don’t need a lot of bells and whistles when it comes to the contact form can get by with the free version of Ninja Forms. I really like the builder interface when it comes to Ninja Forms. They have a drag-in, drop interface. You can also save things as Favorites. So, if you’re all the time, you’re using name, email address and phone number, or something like that on a contact form, you can drag those into – it’s kind of like organizing a widget, is what it looks like, and you can drag those into your Favorites field. So, they’ll always be right at the very top and you can make contact forms very, very quickly.
With Gravity Forms, it’s kind of the same. They don’t have – it looks like they may have some Favorite fields as well, so you can set that up and get that up and rolling. There’s a little bit more – how do I say this? There’s a little bit more customization with Gravity Forms, so once you add an element like, say, first name, then you can put a label as first name or you can put – then you can control where the position is, so if you want it to be above the element, or if you want it to be in the – kind of a placeholder text, so there’s no label, it’s just inside the form field itself, you can do that.
If you wanted to do – and there’s also settings in there with Gravity Forms where you can add special classes, you can organize things left and right, and all that kind of stuff. So, you can do all of that with Gravity Forms.
Now, both of them also have a preview form, and so, once you get a form going, you can look at a preview. Both of them require the form to be saved in order to keep the preview up to date, which isn’t ideal if you’re not ready to commit your change. But Ninja – Gravity Forms gives you a simple preview of what your creation will look like, but Ninja Forms actually goes in styles, just like your current theme, so it provides a more accurate representation of your form. I like that feature of Ninja Forms, so when you look at a form, it looks like the form is actually going to be.
The forms are fully functional with both of them. You can test out any rules, formulas, or other features that you might be using, and you can – let’s see, without – by switching to the appropriate tab in Ninja Forms, you can configure the individual form settings, and I guess this is for both of them, and so you can say, “I want the form title to be this, and I want it to be sent to this person, or these are the actions that happen when somebody clicks the submit button.”
So, both of them, like I said, are very, very comparable, very, very close to the same thing. If you are going with – I guess where it comes – where the pricing comes very, very differently is with the unlimited amounts of sites. If you wanted to do unlimited amounts of sites with Ninja Forms, it’s going to be $500.00 per year. So, that’s access to all the add-ons – and that’s unlimited sites, all the add-ons, and anything in the future that they create, so for $4.99 per year.
But if you want all the things that Gravity Forms has to offer for unlimited numbers of sites, then it’s only $259.00. It’s a little bit better of a price point comparison-wise if you need lots and lots of sites. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, or if there’s only a few things that you need, then it might be – make more sense to go with Ninja Forms to just buy that one add-on that you need. Maybe a $29.00 or a $49.00 add-on versus paying for whatever.
But all in all, in general, as I’m going through the review, both are very, very good. Both of them remind me of each other, I guess. They’re very similar when you’re building out a form and whatnot. There is – I don’t know. I don’t think there is a bad way to go. Like, if you are very much pro-Gravity Forms and you use it all the time, I’d say stick with that. If you’re a Ninja Forms user and you really like that, or you want to try to get away from that, buy the add-ons that you need. Or if you just want to just try to explore it, the free version can do so much, and you might want to switch or mix some of those very basic sites, just use Ninja Forms because it works really, really well.
So, that’s what I want to share today, just kind of a comparison, and full disclosure, I am using – 100% using Ninja Forms on all my websites, just because, again, I’m not running a business anymore. I’m trying to conserve money where possible, so I think the features that I need are right there with Ninja Forms, and being completely free works really, really well. I guess there’s also – one of the things with Ninja Forms and – I believe Gravity Forms had this, like, you could export your forms. So, if you want to create just your basic form, you could export that and then import it into other sites if you’re making multiple sites.
Those are the things that I wanted to share and talk about on today’s episode of YourWebsiteEngineer podcast. If you’re interested in more, head on over to, I guess, the show notes for Episode #450. If you head over to yourwebsiteengineer.com/448 is the last week to enter for the drawing for the OptinMonster contest to win a free license for OptinMonster. You can find out more there at yourwebsiteengineer.com/448. That’s all I got for you this week. Take care and we’ll talk again soon. Buh-bye.