This is the sixth post in our series on Gravity Forms for WordPress. We will review why it’s a popular forms plugin for WordPress and then we will dig into how to think about and execute a complex form. To get caught up, review the other posts in the series:
- Using Gravity Forms – How to Create a Simple Form
- Setting up Gravity Forms
- How to Set Gravity Forms Controls – the Definitive Guide
- Styling Gravity Forms Layouts – Ready Classes to the Rescue
- Connecting Gravity Forms and MailChimp
- Looking For A Website Shopping Cart Alternative? Consider Gravity Forms And Stripe
Gravity Forms – Why it’s #1
Our claim above is bold and likely valid, but we aren’t able to obtain sales data so you’ll need to trust us 🙂 That said, Gravity Forms has been around for a long time and continues to be one of the most popular premium forms plugins. It’s been our go-to choice for many years. It has held its dominant position because, at the same time, it’s easy to use for simple forms and yet it’s powerful enough to build even very complex forms. Add to this the additional capabilities available through add ons, and you have a killer combination.
Out of the box, Gravity Forms provides most if not all the fields you need to build your WordPress form. Each field has many settings that can be used to communicate with users and capture data. In addition, you have control over what happens once the form is submitted. Confirmation messages can be customized. Redirect confirmations are easy to set up. “Would you like fries with that?” Notifications can be sent to multiple recipients. Form data can be included in the notification, or not, as required, and notifications can be conditional based on form data.
Gravity Forms is very flexible. In addition to the many form fields available with the plugin, more are available when you add Add Ons, Ready Classes give you complete control over form layouts. Plus you can use the HTML block to add additional messaging to your form. Conditional logic can be used to make forms less intimidating; conditional logic can control what form fields appear based on earlier responses. No need to scare users with a lot of blank fields if many aren’t needed. For example, in this onboarding form, we ask customers if they intend to have a blog. If the answer is “no” then it’s all good, and we move on to the next question.
If the response is “yes” then we ask about comments using a conditional based on the “yes” response. All this control allows you to design and build a form that’s friendly, that users will want to complete.
Building a Complex Gravity Form
First and foremost, when designing your form consider user experience. Forms, especially when the website’s primary objective is conversion, are the point of the fulcrum. Getting web forms right is vital to an effective website. Forms are your main point of interaction.
There are four guiding principles to keep in mind:
- Keep it human
- Make it easy
- Efficient forms convert
- Show them the way
Keep it Human – Approachable Forms Convert
A friendly form is much more likely to be completed. In the minds of many consumers friendly equals trustworthy. Keep it fun. Use the HTML block to insert images to highlight and emphasize. Explain the steps in a human voice. In essence, design your website forms as if you are a human, not a CPA.
Make it Easy – Ask for Information in a Logical Way
Simple is better than complex. Ask for information that’s sensible given the situation. Ask for the information in a logical order. Avoid jargon. Use the field description to explain how you will be using the data, how it will benefit the user.
Efficient Forms Convert – Design to Save Time
Vertical/single column layouts work well. This is especially true when the form is presented in a lightbox. Don’t ask for information that isn’t needed. Use conditionals to save time. If you are asking for data that isn’t required unless certain conditions are met, then use conditional logic only to show the field when the condition is met.
Show Them the Way – Adding Guidance Makes Complex Forms Less Scary
Add messages using the HTML block to guide users. Tell them where they are in the form and explain why you need the information.
Use section breaks to separate sections. The Section Break description can be used to introduce the next section; it can be used to explain what’s going to happen.
Use the Gravity Forms Page Break function to break long and complicated forms into pages. It won’t make the form any shorter, but by breaking it up into bite-sized chunks, it will be less intimidating. And there’s a handy progress bar option that helps you communicate how much more is in front of users.
Even a simple thing like a horizontal rule can help users stay oriented.
Conclusion – Using Gravity Forms for WordPress to Design and Build a Complex Form
Gravity Forms for WordPress is a powerful, yet easy to use forms plugin. Using it with thought and consideration will make your web forms more effective. This is important because forms are the main inflection point on a website. Forms are how your users interact with you and your business. Keep it human, make it easy and efficient, and guide them to the end. Following these guidelines will make all your forms, and especially complex forms, more effective.