This site, and millions of others are powered by WordPress, a powerful blogging tool that continues to make waves in the industry due to the wide range of themes and plugins available to be used to personalize or extend the platform. Recently, a new plugin was released called Gravity Forms, and I am a huge fan of it, and so I want to take some time to talk about it.
First, some disclosure. I first saw Gravity Forms long before it was even released in Beta and was able to give some thoughts, opinions and ideas on shaping the plugin. I like to think that some of my advice helped Rocket Genius, the company behind the plugin, but because of this, I also feel like I have invested interest in seeing it do well. Secondly, Gravity Forms powers all the submission and contact forms on this site, and most sites that I run. Lastly, I am part of their affiliate program. If you don’t want to buy through my affiliate link, just head on over to GravityForms.com rather than clicking any links, banners or other “links” in this post.
What is Gravity Forms?
Gravity Forms is really an extension for WordPress, one of the first of its kind. It is a highly complex data acquisition and management plugin that will allow you to create any form needed to collect data from your visitors. The most simplistic version of this is the generic contact form. Everyone adds a contact form to their blog so that they don’t have to give out their e-mail address. Gravity Forms makes creating such a contact form very easy.
Beyond that, Gravity Forms could be used for any type of data collection. Some examples are as follows:
Example 1: Guest Posts – You want to collect guest posts on your blog. Using Gravity Forms, you create a form that allows the visitor to create the post title, put in the post text, and even upload an image to be used with their post. If you set up Gravity Forms correctly, the submitted information will become a post on your blog, usually in draft format. You change it from Draft to Published, and you’ve added user submitted content to your blog.
Example 2: Basic Help Desk – Customer having a problem with something? Create a form with all the details you need to collect and from within the WordPress administration panel, you can see the “tickets” created by users, add notes, star them for importance, edit them, and delete them as they are closed. You can even have admin only fields so you can mark tickets with a status of Closed.
Example 3: Image Hosting Site – Create a form with an upload element, and a few other fields, and quickly you could create an image hosting website, where each image uploaded becomes a WordPress post with that single image as the element displayed. You could even give submitters the power to tag their images to make them easier to find in the future.
Example 4: Visitor Survey – Create a single, long page visitor survey, and collect details regarding their location, ages, and approximate salary levels for use in selling advertising and honing in on the type of content they’d be interested in. Export the data to CSV, open it in Excel or another spreadsheet application and begin to create charts and graphs to visually interpret the data you collect.
Example 5: Limited Time Offer – Want to collect e-mail addresses for a contest or giveaway, but only want the submissions to be open from noon until midnight on one single day? With Gravity Forms, you can set scheduling on the form to do this. You could even limit it to one hundred entries if you so chose.
All of this and much, much more are possible through the use of Gravity Forms on your self-hosted WordPress site.
How Much Does Gravity Forms Cost?
While many of you might be used to getting everything for WordPress for free, Gravity Forms is one of the few Premium WordPress plugins. This “Premium” label means a few things.
- Number One: There are Developers working on improvements and fixes constantly
- Number Two: It includes useful and helpful support.
- Number Three: It costs money.
If you contacted a WordPress developer and asked him or her to replicate Gravity Forms as it currently exists for you, the budget they’d quote you on would be in the thousands. Even some of the cheapest programmers in the world would probably ask for a few hundred. Gravity Forms ranges in licensing costs starting at $39 for a Single Site license, moving up to $99 for a Multi-site license, and capping out at $199 for a Developer’s license.
What Does Each License Type Include?
With a Single Site License, you get to install Gravity Forms on your one site and use it as you see fit, for as many forms and pieces of data you want. Want to create one hundred different forms to collect information on your single blog? The Single Site License will allow you to do that.
With a Multi-site License, you are allowed to use Gravity Forms on up to five of your own sites, otherwise it is the same as the Single Site License.
With the Developer’s License, you are allowed to use Gravity Forms on an Unlimited number of sites, gain access to priority support, and will have access to all of the Gravity Forms add-ons that Rocket Genius has planned to release. They haven’t released any as of yet, but I’ll explain the importance of this soon.
What is it Like to Own Gravity Forms?
One of the early worries people had was, “how can Rocket Genius afford to focus their attention on both updating the plugin and supporting their users when they are making a maximum of $199 per sale?”
When the final version of Gravity Forms came out, I was offered a free copy for my continued input and excitement regarding Gravity Forms, but I ended up buying a Developer’s license anyways. A company I work for felt the passion that I had for Gravity Forms and bought a developer license for themselves. That’s how much I believe in this product.
Since day one, there has always been one of the main team on the forum answering questions as quickly as possible. They are helpful, friendly, and open to both criticism and ideas. I’ve never come across a problem that they couldn’t help me resolve. Also, after less than three months, we are already on version 1.2.1 of Gravity Forms. Each major revision adding new, highly useful features.
Version 1.2 of Gravity Forms added Dynamic Field Population, Bulk Add Predefined Choices, Form Scheduling, Limit Form Entries, Respond to Entries from within WordPress and Role Management Integration. If those don’t mean anything to you, then you need to check out Gravity Forms and see what all of them do. Once you understand what they’ve added, you’ll see your current contact form system looking like the old and rusty jalopy.
Then there is the talk of add-ons for Gravity Forms that would allow it to be used specifically to suit certain needs. Add-ons are things that not everyone would need, and as such shouldn’t be in the core of the plugin. Maybe they want to change Gravity Forms into a new and improved Comment Management solution, or a better Customer Record Manager, or a building block for a new e-commerce tool? These could all be possible with future add-ons.
Isn’t Upgrading Plugins a Pain?
The last few versions of WordPress have been making upgrading plugins easier than ever by allowing you to easily upgrade plugins within the WordPress repository. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow Premium plugins to be part of the repository, and as such, most Premium plugins can only be upgraded through FTP or other complex, old fashioned means. Thankfully, the folks at Rocket Genius figured out how to hook into this upgrading system, and you can upgrade Gravity Forms from within WordPress, just like it was in the WordPress repository. It is a very slick process and reduces the burden on purchasers to continue coming back to Gravity Forms’ website to download updates.
Bought It, Love It, Want to Be an Affiliate?
Rocket Genius has seen the wisdom in helping pay the people that love their product and spread the good word. I didn’t write this review because I could make some money. I wrote all this because I love what they are doing and hope that every WordPress user buys Gravity Forms and finds some new way to use it or that it makes their lives better when it comes to managing forms and user input on their site.
Gravity Forms is using E-Junkie for their Affiliate management, and it is easy to sign up and get started. For each sale of Gravity Forms, you’ll earn 20% commission. If you love Gravity Forms, it doesn’t hurt to sign up. If you purchase the one site license, and then help sell one Developer and one Single site license, you’ll have paid for your purchase.
Others Love Gravity Forms Too
I hate doing sales pitches, and even more so when it isn’t my own product, and so I thought I’d better have some opinions from others on here as well.
Joost de Valk, WordPress guru, plugin author and WordPress podcaster said, ” I have my own contact form plugin, and yet, I have decided to go with Gravity Forms for all the contact forms on this site, and it’s now the only contact form we use for all our client projects.”
Jason Schuller said, “Gravity Forms was designed with WordPress users in mind. Basically, if you know how to use WordPress, getting started with Gravity Forms will be like second nature.”
Jeremy from Papertree Design said, “I did a quick review shot this particular client a link to the demos and we both decided that it couldn’t get much easier than that. In fact he was sold in less than five minutes.”