No matter what type of business you’re running or even if you’re using WordPress just for your personal blog, at some point you’re going to need a contact form. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t come with any sort of form builder, so your best bet is to look for this functionality in a plugin. Form plugins are plenty in the WordPress.org catalogue, but if you’re looking for a customisable, stable, well documented and regularly updated contact form plugin, you don’t need to look further than Contact Form 7.
What is it and what does it do?
Contact Form 7 is a WordPress free plugin that helps you create and manage multiple forms via a simple interface. With it, you’ll be able to create in no time either a simple contact form or complex surveys. While the plugin lacks a drag and drop interface, it does the job perfectly without one.
In all honestly, it’s one of the first plugins I install on a fresh WordPress website that requires any sort of form. The installation is through the Admin Dashboard panel. Just search, install and activate. With a fresh install of Contact Form 7 comes a simple contact form that you can instantly use on your WordPress pages, post, widgets or even template files.
Contact Form 7 is a very popular plugin. It has over 1 million active installs to date and it has been downloaded over 24 million times, with an average of 40,000 new downloads daily. Developers and users alike simply love it. It has been rated 4.6 out of 5 stars on WordPress.org. And with good reason.
How does it work
Creating a form with Contact Form 7 and using it on your website is a walk in the park. Simply go to Contact > Add new. By default, you’ll have a couple of fields generated for you, but you can simply remove those and build the form just the way you want it.
Every form with Contact Form 7 will be split into 5 main sections.
1. The form tags
Contact Form 7 uses form tags to build its forms. Terminology aside, these tags are just another way of saying form fields with options. Every form consists of fields that you can easily generate here. So what type of fields can you generate? Contact Form 7 has literally everything you can think of. From simple text fields to date and number fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, file upload inputs, Captchas, quizzes or acceptance boxes, it’s all there for you at the click of a button.
To generate a new form tag, simple select the type of field you want, add any CSS attributes you require and then simply copy paste the generated shortcode in the form builder.
You can read more about form tags on the official Contact Form 7 documentation.
2. The form builder
Once you’ve generated a form tag, you’ll need to copy paste it in the form builder window. The form builder is basically your form, an ordered collection of all the generated form tags. You’ll also need to manually insert the labels for each fields as well as provide the proper formatting your form requires. This may include wrapping fields and labels into HTML, so basic HTML knowledge is required if you want to visually customise your form.
Don’t forget about the submit button, which, by the way, is also a form tag that can be easily generated.
3. The mail section
When the user fills in a form and submits it, you naturally want it to be sent to an email address and the email should of course contain the fields the user has filled in. This is where mail tags come in. Using a slightly different syntax than form tags, mail tags are Contact Form 7’s way of linking form fields to email content.
You’ll need to manually copy the mail tags into the mail section in order to receive the emails. Don’t forget to also fill in your email address.
You can read more about mail tags on the official Contact Form 7 documentation.
4. The form validations and messages
Contact Form 7 comes bundled in with several validations and messages. If a user fills in a field incorrectly, you want to show an error and Contact Form 7 makes it super easy to customise these error messages. In addition to validations, the plugin also offers messages for both success and error when submitting a form.
5. The form shortcode identifier
In order to add a form anywhere on your website, make note of the form’s shortcode and copy paste it in a page, post or widget. You can also do it right in your template via PHP.
To put it simply, you create fields for you form using the tags generator and then copy paste them into both the form and mail sections, using the appropriate tag syntax. The form section is where you form lives and the mail sections is what you receive in your inbox.
Still undecided whether to use Contact Form 7?
- Easily customise the form visually using CSS and HTML.
- Generate any number of fields of various types.
- It integrates with Akismet.
- You can create and manage multiple forms.
- It’s well integrated with other plugins like Really Simple Captcha for Captchas or Flamingo to save submitted messages via contact forms in the database.
- Its documentation is incredible.
- Very wide language support.
- It’s free. The author takes donations.
- No drag and drop interface.
- There is a lot of manual labor involved. A lot of copy and pasting.
There is no shortage of alternatives when it comes to contact forms for WordPress. The following are just a few of the most noteworthy: