By the numbers, Contact Form 7 is the most popular form plugin at the WordPress.org plugin directory. It’s active on more than 5 million WordPress sites, with the next most popular form plugin coming in at 3 million.
There’s a lot to like about Contact Form 7, which explains its popularity. It’s simple and bloat-free, and, because it’s so popular, there’s a massive library of third-party Contact Form 7 extensions that add new functionality to the core plugin. When you factor in those extensions, I don’t think you’ll find any other form plugin that offers the same level of functionality for free.
But there are also some real drawbacks to Contact Form 7, and those drawbacks may have you looking for the best Contact Form 7 alternatives.
In this post, we’ll talk about what some of those drawbacks are, and then we’ll dig in to what we think are the best alternative plugins. Most of these alternatives offer a free version that you can use for basic forms, as well as paid versions that add on all kinds of new features and form types.
Why Look for a Contact Form 7 Alternative?
I already highlighted the benefits of Contact Form 7. It’s free, simple (but not necessarily user-friendly), and has a huge third-party extension library. For example, if you search for Contact Form 7 at WordPress.org, you’ll find a bunch of extensions to add things such as:
- payments via PayPal or Stripe
- conditional logic
- reCaptcha for anti-spam
- multi-step forms
- design styles
- in-dashboard entry management
- email marketing service integrations, such as connecting Contact Form 7 to Mailchimp.
But there are also some very real drawbacks to the plugin, which is why we’re writing this post.
First, one of the biggest negatives with Contact Form 7 is the interface — you need to build your forms using shortcodes and a text editor, like this:
This interface hasn’t changed in years, and it’s far behind the convenient visual, drag-and-drop form builders that all of the form plugins on this list offer.
So, if you struggle to design your forms with Contact Form 7, you have much better options when it comes to the form-building interface.
Second, while I highlighted the extensibility of Contact Form 7 above, there’s still a potential problem with that approach:
Almost all of the extensions come from third-party developers.
Because of that, you may run into compatibility issues because they’re all separate developers, rather than a unified team working together. Or, a developer may just stop maintaining an important extension you rely on.
With the Contact Form 7 alternatives on this list, all (or most) of the functionality comes directly from the developer. That means all of the features are pretty much guaranteed to continue working together, and you have a lower chance of compatibility issues.
Finally, there’s a small performance issue with Contact Form 7 in that it loads its scripts on every page on your site — even pages where you don’t have a form. This is just bad for performance, because it slows down your non-form pages for no reason.
While you could fix this with a free plugin, such as Asset CleanUp, a better approach would be to just use a form plugin that’s optimized out of the box.
Five Best Contact Form 7 Alternatives
Now, let’s dig in to what we think are the best Contact Form 7 alternatives. All of these plugins offer much more user-friendly form builder interfaces, as well as the ability to add all sorts of new functions without resorting to third-party extensions.
The one downside? While most of these alternatives let you create basic forms for free, you’ll almost always need to pay for the more advanced features.
Again, I don’t think you can find a plugin that matches the flexibility of Contact Form 7’s third-party extensions for free — but you can definitely find one that matches or exceeds its flexibility if you’re willing to pay. And the benefit here is that those paid add-ons come straight from the developer, rather than a mix-and-match of third-party developers.
WPForms — FREE/$39.50
After Contact Form 7, WPForms is the next-most-popular form plugin at WordPress.org, and is active on more than 3 million sites.
It comes in both a free version at WordPress.org and a few different paid versions.
The free version makes a great option for basic forms, and it includes a visual drag-and-drop form builder interface that’s a huge upgrade from Contact Form 7’s form builder:
If you’re willing to pay, you can add more advanced features, such as:
- Email marketing service integrations
- Conditional logic
- Surveys and polls
- Conversational/interactive layouts (such as Typeform)
The paid versions of WPForms start at $39.50.
You can learn more in our full WPForms review.
Gravity Forms — $59
Gravity Forms is a popular plugin with WordPress developers and other people setting up more than just a simple contact form. Unlike all of the other plugins on this list, it does not offer a free version. So, if you just want a free plugin for a contact form, you have much better options.
But if you want to create more complicated forms, then Gravity Forms is one of the best options out there. For example:
- Payment forms
- User registration forms
- Email marketing opt-ins
To build your forms, Gravity Forms gives you a drag-and-drop editor. It’s not my absolute favorite editor because it looks a little dated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a big step up from Contact Form 7, but plugins such as WPForms or Ninja Forms offer a slightly better user experience in the form editor.
There’s no doubting Gravity Forms’ power, though — in addition to tons of advanced features that come directly from the developer, there’s also a vibrant marketplace of third-party Gravity Forms extensions to give you even more flexibility. For example, the GravityView plugin that we reviewed lets you display your Gravity Forms submissions on the front end of your site.
All in all, Gravity Forms is definitely one of the best options for more advanced use cases. The pricing starts at $59.
Ninja Forms — FREE/Add-ons
Along with WPForms, Ninja Forms is one of the most beginner-friendly, easy-to-use form plugins on this list.
It also offers a really nicely designed visual drag-and-drop form builder to help you to design your forms. It has a bit of a different approach to the interface versus something like WPForms, but both do a really great job of making it easy to build forms.
The core Ninja Forms plugin is available for free at WordPress.org, and you can use that to build contact forms or other types of basic forms.
If you want more functionality, you can find lots of official add-ons straight from the developer. For example, you’ll find add-ons for features such as:
- Conditional logic
- Email marketing service integrations
- Form to PDF conversion
You can either purchase these add-ons individually for $29 to $129 each, or you can get bundles of add-ons starting at $99.
If you need some help deciding between the free version and the paid add-ons, we’ve compared Ninja Forms free with paid.
Formidable Forms — FREE/$99
The free version makes a good option for contact forms and other basic forms. You also get a nicely designed drag-and-drop editor that can hang with WPForms and Ninja Forms, as well as a huge collection of pre-built form templates (though these require the premium version):
Where I think Formidable Forms really excels, though, is in more advanced implementations. The premium version offers a ton of features and integrations to help you to create different types of forms. It even includes its own ‘views’ tool, which lets you display form entries on the front end of your site.
So, for more advanced forms, this is another good one to consider alongside Gravity Forms. Unlike Gravity Forms, though, Formidable Forms does offer a limited free version that you can test and use for simple forms, which is nice.
After that, the paid plans start at $99.
Note: Formidable Forms is involved with the same company behind WPForms through the WPBeginner Growth Accelerator fund (which we discussed here). The two are still run separately and have different feature sets, though.
Caldera Forms — FREE/$99
In terms of the number of features you get for free, Caldera Forms is probably one of the most generous Contact Form 7 alternatives on this list.
For example, even in the free version at WordPress.org, Caldera Forms still gives you access to features such as conditional logic and front-end post submission — features all of the other form plugins on this list charge for.
So, that’s a big point in Caldera Forms’ favor — especially if you’re on a budget.
Caldera Forms gives you a drag-and-drop form builder interface that, while totally usable, is probably my least favorite interface of the plugins on this list.
Because the free version is so generous, you can use it for more than just basic contact forms, which is something that’s not true for most of the other free options. For example, conditional logic opens up a lot of different use cases by letting you display different fields based on how a person answered previous fields.
If you want more functionality, there are also a few different premium versions that can add support for payments, email marketing integrations and more. The paid plans start at $99.
Note: Caldera Forms was acquired by the same company behind Ninja Forms in August 2019. However, the two are still entirely separate plugins and have different feature sets.
Which Is the Best Contact Form 7 Alternative for You?
Picking the best option from this list depends on the types of forms you want to create, the features you need and your budget.
If you’re just looking for an alternative to create a basic contact form, your two best options are WPForms and Ninja Forms. Both offer functional free versions, and have the most beginner-friendly, easy-to-use form builder interfaces — at least in my opinion.
If you want to go beyond a basic contact form with the likes of conditional logic or front-end post submission, I think Caldera Forms is the best option if you’re on a budget. Again, Caldera Forms has the most generous free version of any plugin on this list in terms of the features you get.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to pay, really any of these plugins can make a good option. With the premium versions, all of these can handle payment forms, user registration and lots more.
Gravity Forms is an especially good option for more complicated types of forms, because it’s quite popular among developers and also has a large third-party extension marketplace.
Formidable Forms is also quite powerful, and can do some of the things Gravity Forms does without the need for third-party add-ons. For example, Formidable Forms includes its own tool to display form entries on the front end of your site. It also offers a limited free version, which means you can try it out at no risk (which you can’t with Gravity Forms).
Used/using any of these Contact Form 7 alternatives. Thoughts?