Gravity Forms offers WordPress users the promise of easy to use form creation, but does it actually deliver?  This is what we will be investigating in our first look at Gravity Forms, but we also decided to devise a few tests that would see what Gravity Forms was made of.  After all, some plug-ins work really well with WordPress, but  that does not mean that do they play nicely with other skins and plug-ins.

Pleasant Surprises

After installing Gravity Forms, which itself was as simple as installing any other WordPress plug-in, we were immediately greeted with a new menu on our dashboard: Gravity Forms.  Clicking on this let us know that we did not yet have any forms, and so we were directed to create forms.  Later, once we had built a handful of test forms, we were given the option of managing these forms directly from this menu.

Setting up our first form was a mixed experience, but a decidedly positive one.  The only thing that was not to our liking was probably more of a WordPress problem than anything else, but a WYSIWYG editor really should show one’s theme off.  Instead, our test forms simply floated on a dull-gray background that was nowhere near as impressive as some of the skins we were using to torture Gravity Forms with.  Our theory was the Gravity Forms would look great on a standard WordPress install but a few skins would trip it up visually.  This was not the case, but it certainly proved to be an interesting exercise as we got to see our forms mingle with a bunch of different skins.

Flexibility Forms!

Setting up forms in Gravity Forms couldn’t be simpler.  Forms start with a basic title, description, and then can be added to with everything from off the shelf buttons, fields, boxes, menus, and virtually anything else that one could possibly want.  Most of these items are already pre-named, such as name fields, and that reduces the amount of time and effort involved with creating forms.  Additionally, form items can be conditional.  For example, a text input box might be inactive unless one answers a question with ‘other’ in which case it would be valuable to know the specific answer, such as how they heard about a product or site.

Forms can be scheduled to go live at specific times, just like posts, and go dark at certain times or once certain criteria have been met.  For example, perhaps a promotional item would be available only to the first 1000 people to fill out a form, and after that the form needs to be removed or made inactive.  Gravity Forms can handle this, and it is clear that people who really know their forms spent a great deal of time brainstorming possible uses for forms before they made Gravity Forms.

Where Does the Data Go?

Some forms end up being e-mailed, and Gravity Forms can handle that, but that is the least of the Gravity Forms can do.  The ability to integrated with other plug-ins has lead to a great number of ways to use the data generated from Gravity Forms.  Some third party plug-ins, such as the MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and FreshBooks add-ons only work with the Gravity Forms Developer Support License.  At $199, the Developer Support License is not inexpensive, but it can be used on unlimited sites and comes with priority support.

The Two Other Packages

There are two other Gravity Form licenses available: the Single Site Support License for $39, and the Multi-Site Support License differs from the Single Site Support License only in that it offers support for up to 5 sites.  This is certainly cost effective, but the add-ons are easily worth the extra $100.  There is even a free on-site demo that lets visitors give Gravity Forms a test drive, but it too is not entirely feature complete due to the limitations of the demo-technology involved.  Still, it should give a reasonable approximation of what one can expect when using Gravity Forms.

The Verdict

The ability to quickly create and manage forms from an intuitive WordPress interface makes Gravity Forms an absolute must-have plug-in for anyone who can use forms.  Anyone engaged in online marketing or preparing for future marketing campaigns can use forms, so that more or less means that nearly everyone using WordPress can probably benefit from Gravity Forms.