This article is not sponsored by any of the mentioned companies and contains no affiliate links.
Form plugins are a minefield. There’s some good, some bad and some seriously ugly.
If you (or your client) has the budget for a paid plugin then there’s some well known solid options such as Gravity Forms and Formidable Pro, but what do you do for a client with very simple form needs or no extra budget? at this point you’re on the lookout for a free form plugin. Some premium form plugins also have free versions, but they’re often extremely limited with many upsells. This isn’t something you’d want on a client site.
After looking through a lot of free plugins, we think the best of the bunch is Forminator by WPMU DEV, by quite a long way. In fact, it has a very similar feature set to many premium plugins at zero cost.
A few years ago, we wouldn’t have touched a WPMU DEV product – it always looked “too good to be true” and the sheer amount of plugins they were selling on a membership basis gave us the impression that they were low quality and somewhat spammy. This opinion has certainly changed, though. Over the last few years there’s been a definite shift; they now have fewer products and seem to have a much greater focus on quality over quantity.
So this is where Forminator comes in. When we were first evaluating it we were expecting it to be like other freemium form plugins – extremely limited with constant, spammy upsells – we could not have been more wrong.
Some key features of Forminator include:
- Simple drag and drop interface
- Plenty of field types, including drag and drop multiple file upload.
- Validation rules
- Condition logic
- Integrations (including Zapier)
- Take payments via Stripe or Paypal
- Google reCAPTCHA
- Privacy settings. e.g. remove form submissions after x days
- Import forms from Contact Form 7
- Security features (honeypot protection)
- Insert by Gutenberg block or shortcode
- The ability to disable the default form CSS (a must for developers)
- Pre-populate fields from query params (great for devs)
and plenty more. These are all in the free version. Currently, the pro version adds an e-signature field and the opportunity for white labelling. As you can see, the free features here massively outweigh the competition.
There must be some catch, right?
There really doesn’t seem to be at the moment. It does feature some upselling, but this isn’t too intrusive and is mainly on its own pages (not throughout the whole WordPress Admin) which we feel is fine given the large free feature set. The admin interface isn’t exactly standard WordPress, but overall it’s not so different that it feels like you’ve gone to a totally different website.
Our only concern is that other free form plugins in the past have actually removed free features and moved them to the pro version – a poor and very frustrating move. Fingers crossed this doesn’t happen here.
Wrapping it up
Overall, we think Forminator is the best of the bunch in free form plugins (and probably better than some premium ones) – we tested almost every plugin in the top WordPress.org listings and Forminator easily came out on top for features, stability and usability.
Have we got this wrong? Do you know of a better free form plugin? let us know your thoughts in the comments.