The Ultimate Gravity Forms Review: The Best Form Builder or the Most Overpriced?

Gravity Forms is a contact form generator plugin, built specifically for WordPress.  The popular plugin  can be used for different purposes that include capturing leads, and receiving notices from site visitors. The drag and drop features make it an easy to use plugin, and it also includes many advanced features to the point where you can use the plugin to build some pretty comprehensive platforms (bulletin boards, forums, and more) from within your wordpress, just by using the plugin and the various form features offered.

Note: I have no monetary incentive to write this 3000 word review on Gravity Forms as I don’t even have an affiliate account with Gravity Forms. I’ve written this comprehensive review of Gravity Forms because it’s THE most popular form builder plugin for wordpress and I want to give a good breakdown on if the high cost is worth the feature set. So, take this as you will, but this is an honest, unbiased review of Gravity Forms.

As of 2016, Gravity Forms is the most popular form builder on the web, widely hailed as the leader in the wordpress Form space. However, there are some strong alternatives such as Formidable Pro and the new WPForms (see our WP Forms Review)

The current configuration and abilities available on the web almost demands that all websites contain some interactive features. It is almost mandatory that all sites include a method that allows site visitors to contact the site operator. Including contact information, such as telephone and email, although satisfactory, is slow and cumbersome, and will often put your website in a negative light. Site visitors prefer and almost by default demand immediacy in responses.

Users on the web, function in a time- starved environment, and attention spans are getting shorter. If given the option, most site visitors would prefer a live-chat, rather than having to wait for a response. However, if having a live chat function on your site is not a viable option, the best alternative would be a properly functioning contact form. These forms can be used for more than contact, as they can also offer several advantages, and Gravity Forms is now rated among the best for a number of reasons.

How Gravity Forms Work: The Basic Setup

You need a self-hosted WordPress installation to use Gravity Forms. After purchasing one of the three licenses, you download the associated zip file.

Login to your WordPress admin dashboard. Hover over the plugins menu item to click on Add New to upload the file to your site. After locating and uploading the zip file, you can then install it. When the installation is complete, you must then activate the plugin to begin using it. A few settings are required in order to make efficient use of Gravity Forms in WordPress.

Entering the key when prompted, verifies your license, and ensures that you will receive updates and support. You have the option of receiving automatic updates which are applied without intervention.

A few other  required settings include the Currency in which you wish to transact, provided you are involved in transactions. This is selected from the dropdown menu, and the Conflict mode can be used to indicate when there is a conflict between Gravity Forms and any other WordPress plugins. You choose to suppress or display the form source code, and whether you allow immediate and automatic updates and bug fixes. From there you are then ready to begin creating forms, or do any of the other wonderful things capable with the plugin.

Licenses

There are three different licenses available for Gravity Forms. The bare-bones Personal license, is the one that is downloaded from plugin the WordPress repository, and can be used on a single site. A step-up to the Business and Developer Licenses allows you to install the plugin on more sites and to get more out of the plugin with the use of the available addons.

Powerful Features Offered by Gravity Forms

One of the things that I like about Gravity Forms, is that it can speak different languages. The default is in U.S. English, but it supports easy language translations, and all that is required is to is change the language of your WordPress installation the mo and Po language files are all included.

There are also some powerful features that many of the competing Form Builders don’t offer.

Surveys and Polling

Businesses can all benefit from interacting with potential prospects. One of the ways to do it in a cost-efficient manner, is to conduct surveys and polls, and Gravity Forms does it well. Build polls and surveys in various formats, so respondents can submit suggestions, answers, and comments easily, You can listen to your customers to find out what the need, like or dislike, and this can  help improve your business by staying ahead of competitors. Apply some cool effects to the survey forms that make them difficult to ignore.

You have the ability to create surveys at any time, and more flexibility is allowed, when conditional logic is included. Additional questions to collect more information can be based on preceding information that is submitted.

Allow Guest Posts with Gravity Forms

By Guest posting on other sites, site owners can build links to their own sites. This is often cited an a win situation for all as publishers get free content, while posters can build backlinks to their sites.

There is often some compromise required from publishers who can gain access to free content, as posts must be managed to ensure criteria is met before publishing.

With Gravity Forms, you can manage guest posting, by creating a page form, where posts can be drafted without access to WordPress. As the admin, you can examine each post, and determine which can be published, either in part or in whole.

User-Generated Content

Gravity Forms allows you to do much more with content that is generated by users. Along with the same principle behind surveys and polls, you build a review, Wiki, or Q&A style site, simply by generating separate forms, and it can be done without any coding, Use the drag and drop feature, to design the page layout within WordPress. Simply publish the pages to accept more user generated content that search engines seem to favor.

If you are a developer, Gravity includes an extensive set of documentation, with access to the API along with accessible hooks and filiter, to get creative juices flowing. A large developer community is also being built around Gravity Forms.

The Good

Gravity forms is extremely  user-friendly, and as you can realize, installation, and configuration is a simple task that requires no technical skills. What makes this an outstanding form-generator, is the number of additional options that are, or can be easily included.

Total design Control

  • When compared to other form generators, Gravity Forms may be way ahead because of all of the control that is a your fingertips. If you have any knowledge of writing code, you may be even be still further ahead, The layout of your form, and easy edit of the CSS means you style in any way you wish, while still maintaining all of the functionality.
  • Building trust has always been one of the keys to success on the web. With Gravity Forms, you can build trust immediately, by interacting with site visitors after they submit information. Send them to any page you wish, and a good idea, would be to send them to a page that includes a welcome video message. They can be directed to any other link or page you wish.
  • Easily include various types of fields in any of your forms. The standard field types are HTML, Page, and Section breaks, Drop-downs, check-boxes, Radio buttons, Paragraph, and single line text fields, and you can even hide fields. Some advanced and pre-formatted field types that are easily included are Date, Time, telephone, Address, Website, and email. You simple add them to your form with the editor. A handy feature that can be enabled is email verification that sends a confirmation message so that users can verify their address. It also verifies the syntax of the field to ensure that the address is entered in correct format.
  • Conditional Logic allows you design forms that are much more efficient to render and process, because you can chose which fields, pages, or sections can be hidden or displayed, based on the requirements. You can even apply conditional logic to the submit button to ensure that specific info is entered before submission.  
  • If you are involved in eCommerce, you can easily create Order forms with Gravity forms. Add some options for your products, include pricing and a shipping module, include the PayPal addon , and you are ready to begin selling with minimum hassles.
  • Easy customization. Gravity Forms can work out of the box almost any WordPress theme. However, you may need to design forms for your site that compliment the theme. You can change any element of your form, either directly on indirectly by using the ID, class name or CSS inheritance, to give your form a specific appearance or property. With the preview button, you can readily observe the appearance of the form as it is developed.
  • User data collection: The entries of each field of Gravity Forms are stored in the WordPress database. The data is easily accessed at the admin Dashboard, where you can annotate, edit with the Gravity Forms Entry Manager. Choose to Auto capture user IP addresses, and referring URL for details, and  then select which entries allowed for exporting to CVS file.
  • Notifications: Email though efficient, is still considered as a slow process as users prefer immediacy. With Gravity forms, you can decrease the time it takes to respond to messages, by having alerts sent to you every time a form is submitted. Simulate interactivity, by configuring user notification included with your form.Messages can be sent when the form is submitted. I like the ability to apply conditional logic to email notifications, so that I only receive alerts only when some conditions are met. You can then choose to respond when email notifications are received.
  • It is easy to integrate Gravity Forms with any of the other third party providers, as it supports the popular ones such as Mailchimp, Aweber, and even Stripe. Get more support for payment processors such as PayPal, AuthorizeNet, and Freshbooks.
  • Sometimes you may to design forms that capture more than just name and email. If you build a detailed customer database, you may add work and home addresses, telephones, date of birth and much more. Such forms can be composed of several pages, and Gravity Forms makes it simple as several multi-page forms with easy editing are included. Building Multi-Page forms is made simple with a few steps. Include the page break, and the progress bar which indicates to the degree of completion user.
  • Another neat trick is the ability to limit the entries submitted with forms. Let us say you have a contest or a poll, and only require a limited number of submissions. You specify the number of entries required, Gravity form displays a custom message when the number is reached. The form can also be displayed for specified periods.
  • You can get much more functionality out of Gravity Forms with the multitude of Basic and Advanced Addons.
  • I have not had the opportunity to require assistance from the support team, but it appears that they have gone to great details to help. You can browse an extensive list of FAQs that cover both pre and post sale issues. They have also made available, all of the required documentation, and an extensive knowledge base that is continually updated with new information. As if that is not enough, licensed users can submit queries via the ticket system, and if you hold the Developers License, you can get priority support.
  • Though it can be a bit tricky, the user Registration add-on also works with BuddyPress and WordPress Multi-Site. One trick that has made my life much more productive, is that I can easily add user information to multiple databases.

The Bad

  • None of the Addons can be used with the Basic Personal Version. That means to  appreciate the functionality, either a Business or Developer License is required.
  • Gravity Forms can only be used on WordPress self-hosted platforms
  • The plugin is expensive with only pay-per-year options, with the Business or Developer License really the only license worth paying for
  • Gravity Forms can be difficult for beginners to use, due to the huge assortment of features present; not beginner friendly, though very developer friendly
  • Favors developers over beginners
  • Resource Intensive and May Slow ‘slow’ servers down

Pricing

Three annual subscription plans are offered for Gravity Forms, and they have different characteristics.

  • The Personal License for one site use costs $39/year. Addons cannot be used.
  • The Business License allows use on three sites, with the addition of the basic addons is available at $99/year.
  • Developer License with all addons for use on unlimited number of sites is available $199/year, and also offers priority support.

How Gravity Forms Compares to the Competition on Price + Features (Developers edition)

FeaturesVisual FormBuilder ProGravity Forms DEVFormidable Pro
No sitesunlimited sitesunlimited sites200 sites
Price$199.00 one time$199/year$397.00 one time
Support1 year1 year license renewal$199/yr
Adds on6 included36 included19 included

 The Bottom Line

My experience with building forms goes back a long way, and I have struggled to build forms manually coding with Visual Basic and PHP and HTML. From there, I graduated to using Contact Form 7 and others.

The fact is that Forms are one of the most important features you’ll need in a website, from a simple contact form, price quotation forms, gathering email subscriptions, collection surveys & polls, to taking customer payment details. At some point, you’ll NEED a form builder to interact with your readers and collect data (and in some cases, DO something based on that data collected).

Because of this, at some point, you’ll probably look closely at buying a Form Builder — and if this is the case, you’ll be looking closely at Gravity Forms.

I can objectively state that Gravity Forms is far more advanced, and the old days of struggling with code are made simple with the like of Form Builders like Gravity Forms. My forms are now easily built with the easy Drag and Drop feature on some pre-built templates. Click and paste without shortcodes or HTML, and it’s fairly easy.

I remain undecided as to whether inclusion of all of the addons is a good or a bad feature. As a user, you can choose a-la-carte, which addon you wish to activate.  

The Advanced Forms Features are what set it apart from the rest. Build a simple form for visitors to contact you, and with the same plugin,  extended features allow you to gather leads, conduct eCommerce, organize user data, connect with autoresponders to send emails, and do much more. Many have described it as the Swiss Army Utility knife, with multiple solutions in one package. The smorgasbord of addons , has about every thing that you may need, and you can do this on an limited number of websites, simply by downloading the addon that is needed.

 

Final Thoughts: Yay or Nay?

If you are struggling with the decision of whether to buy a form- generator, or deciding which form builder you should purchase. I can say definitely that Gravity forms should be on your shortlist of considerations.

It has already been downloaded by more than a million people, and the free basic License can be used to get a feel for the plugin and how it works on your site.

The list of addons is indeed impressive, and I don’t think there are any other form builders that offer the same amount of functionality. Others may come closer, but in such cases the cost is additional, while with Gravity Forms, they are still free.  

You will also be impressed with the outstanding support available in the form of extensive  FAQs online documentations, and the supports ticketing system. You can also contact the support via the Contact Form (naturally) that is posted on the site.

I have tested the compatibility with several other plugins on my WordPress installation, and found  a few minor issues with other plugins that were used for backing up the database. Before installing Gravity Forms, I recommend that you check to ensure you have at least the minimum sever capability to ensure proper operation of the plugin.  Your hosting account should handle MySQL v5.6+, the latest version of WordPress, and PHP v5.6+.

As a confirmation if the increasing popularity of this plugin which is set to be the standard in form builders, at last count there were more than 380 addons for Gravity Forms listed in the WordPress plugin directory. The fact that developers are so enamored with it, speaks volumes and it for this reason why I rated it among the best.

The developers are on a mission to disrupt the manner in which forms are built, and continue to reposition the the concept of continuous improvement, and that augurs well for users of Gravity Forms.

What’s especially powerful about Gravity Forms is that due to how ubiquitous is on the web (millions of websites use it) that so many Premium Themes and Plugins offer built-in support for Gravity Forms with tie-in functionality such as built-in theme-styling for Gravity Forms Forms and linkage between various plugins  that may connect with some of the Gravity Forms’ functionality. These are features that NON of the other form builders can offer.

However, Gravity Forms is a form builder that’s comprehensive and complicated. It favors the developer more than the beginner. Because of this, I personally recommend (and prefer) the new WPForms, which offers many of the same features but its SIGNIFICANTLY easier to use right out of the box due to the one click templates.

The pricing is also an issue. To keep the Gravity Forms updated, you’ll pay $199 per year. This adds up significantly over a few years. Because of this cost, I suggest Formidable Pro as a powerful alternative – you only pay ONE time to get lifetime updates (though you’ll have to pay per year if you want extra support).

But What Do I, Ben, Use?

I’ve used Gravity Forms, I’ve used Contact Form 7, I’ve used Formidable Pro, and I’ve used WPForms Pro. So I have quite a bit of hand’s on experience with all these builders for actual money-making websites.

My personal favorite and my go-to form builder right now is WPForms, due to the ease of use, the cost (there’s still a one time lifetime payment option), and the strong feature set. I also own Formidable Pro as well, which I’ve used on a couple websites to collect payment information. But I prefer WPForms because it’s a lot faster to build forms, be them simple or complicated ones.

But just because I prefer WPForms (or Formidable Pro) over Gravity Forms does not mean these are necessary better Form Builders. Gravity Forms, at least now, is more powerful than WPForms with far more features offered. It’s about the same as Formidable Pro in terms of features, but has far more 3rd party support.

So if you want the most features and the most 3rd party support, well, Gravity Forms is still the winner in the form space.

In short, this is my recommendation:

  • For the average blogger, internet marketer, or non-technical people: Go with WPForms (see our review of WPForms)which is powerful, super easy to use, and still offers a LIFETIME membership for a one time price.
  • For the price conscious developer type, go with Formidable Pro which charges you 1 time for lifetime updates
  • For the developer who doesn’t care about the price and who wants the global compatibility and feature-ties offered by Gravity Forms with many Themes and Plugins, go with Gravity Forms.
  • Ease of Use
  • Features
  • Functionality
  • Aesthetics
  • Plugin's Future
  • Support
  • Price
4.1

Summary

By far, the most comprehensive Form Builder in the world. In the Form space, Gravity Forms is the king, that plugin that all competitors must seek to dethrone. The popularity of the plugin means that many themes and 3rd party plugins offer default tie-in support for Gravity Forms -- something unique to Gravity Forms.

However, Gravity Forms is not beginner friendly and favors developers and the more technically adapt blogger. It's also expensive at $199 PER YEAR, which may be too high for most casual bloggers or website owners who just need a basic contact form or payment processing form.

Because of the high cost, some of the competing Form builders offer a much better bang for buck with most (if not all) the same functionality, but with a one time price with lifetime updates.

If you want the most comprehensive Form Builder and you need the advanced functionality and feature set offered by Gravity Forms, then Gravity Forms is the top dog. But if you don't need all the extra functionality or only some of it, or you simply want to save money, we recommend looking at Formidable Pro or WPForms which are better values per feature set at this point.

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