Contact Form 7 Review: The Best Free Contact Form Plugin For WordPress?

Review of: Contact Form 7

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4.5
On November 29, 2016
Last modified:January 8, 2017

Summary:

Contact Form 7 is by far and away the most popular free WordPress plugin for creating contact forms. But is it any good? In short, although not particular user friendly – and difficult to customize – if it's free you want, it's well worth considering...

If you’re looking to add a contact form to your WordPress website, Contact Form 7 is likely one of the first solutions you’ll run into during your research. It’s free, very popular, and included in many lists of recommended WordPress plugins.

However, with so many other great contact form plugins available, is Contact Form 7 the best choice for your website? Let’s take an in-depth look at what this plugin can do, how it works, and how easy it is to use.

About Contact Form 7

The Contact Form 7 Plugin Logo

Contact Form 7 is a free — and extremely popular — WordPress contact form plugin. According to the WordPress Plugin Directory stats, it’s been actively installed on over 1 million websites. As well as being the most widely used contact form solution in the official plugin directory, it also has an impressive user rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.

In short, when it comes to adding a free contact form to a WordPress website, it’s about the most tried-and-tested option. But is it any good?

Let’s take a look…

5 Reasons to Considering Using Contact Form 7

Before we get to the drawbacks of Contact Form 7, here are five of the best reasons to consider using this plugin to add a contact form to your WordPress website.

Quickest Way to Add a Contact Form to WordPress

The Contact Form 7 Get Started Screen

The Contact Form 7 welcome message

Apart from being free to use (many people’s main requirement!) and having an overall pretty positive rating from users, one of the best reasons to choose Contact Form 7 for your website is how quickly your new contact form can be up and running. Unlike some other popular free WordPress form plugins, a ready-made contact form is automatically added to your website (ready to be inserted on whichever page you’d like it) immediately after activation.

The Contact Form 7 pre-made contact form

The default pre-made form created by Contact Form 7

As you don’t need to create a contact form or even add your own contact details to the form (unless you want to change the email address form entries are sent to), Contact Form 7 is one of the quickest ways to add this type of form to any site.

The shortcodes used by Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 uses shortcodes to insert forms into your content

Once the plugin is activated, you can add the default contact form to your WordPress posts and pages by inserting the corresponding shortcode (not sure what shortcodes are?) into your content.

A contact form shortcode in a WordPress page

Example of the contact form shortcode inserted into a WordPress page

You can then preview your page to see how the contact form looks before hitting the publish button once you’re ready for the form to go live.

A published contact form

Example of a published contact form

Forms can also be inserted into your sidebars and other widget-friendly areas of your theme by adding the shortcode to the WordPress text widget.

How to add a form shortcode to a text widget

Add a contact form to your sidebar or other widgetized areas of your theme

For example, if your chosen WordPress theme features a widgetized footer area, using the text widget in this way makes it easy to display a contact form at the bottom of every page on your website.

Contact form published in a widget

Example of a contact form being displayed in a footer widget

The forms can also be added to theme template files to enable you to display forms in others areas of your site aside from posts, pages, and sidebars.

Once you’ve published a form, by default, submissions will be sent to the email address associated with your WordPress website user account. However, this can easily be changed through the mail section of the form settings.

Contact Form mail settings

Change the email address form entries are sent to through the form’s mail settings

Some issues can arise if the email address associated with your form doesn’t share the same domain name as your website. For example, if your website’s domain name is WinningWP.com and the email address form submissions should be sent to uses the gmail.com domain, the form submissions might not be delivered.

If this Contact Form 7 non-delivery problem does occur, it’s usually an issue with your web host, rather than the plugin itself. There are free tools that can help you overcome this issue although the easiest option is usually to create and use an email address with the same domain as your website.

It’s Easy to Create Custom Forms

If you need more than a basic contact form, adding and removing fields to the default form or creating a new form is relatively straightforward. Unlike some of the other popular free and premium form plugins, you don’t get a live preview of your form. Neither is there a drag-and-drop form builder interface to simplify the process of creating your forms.

Contact Form 7 form builder interface

The Contact Form 7 form builder user interface

Instead, your form creation work takes place through a slightly un-user-friendly interface. At first glance, the form builder might look a little bit scary, especially if you’re not used to HTML and similar markup code. However, if you take a closer look, this approach is relatively easy to understand.

Example of the Contact Form 7 markup tags

Example of the markup used to create forms with Contact Form 7

The form field labels reside within the angle brackets, while the form field placeholders use square brackets. Clicking on a button adds the corresponding field to the form.

Adding a new field to the contact form

A new field has been added to the form

Then it’s up to you to add a suitable label to describe the purpose of the field to your visitors and form users.

Adding a new field label to the form

A label has been added to the new form field

Once you understand the system, creating custom forms is very straightforward with Contact Form 7. After you’ve saved a form, every instance of that form will be automatically updated on your site. Thanks to the power of shortcodes in WordPress, there’s no need to republish any content that contains that form.

Useful Set of Form Fields

Compared to the most expensive and powerful WordPress multi-purpose form plugins like Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7 might be lacking in form fields. However, for creating basic online forms, it should have all the fields most users will need.

The current list of Contact Form 7 form fields includes:

  • Text
  • Email
  • URL
  • Telephone number
  • Number
  • Date
  • Text Area
  • Drop-down menu
  • Checkboxes
  • Radio buttons
  • Acceptance
  • Quiz
  • reCAPTCHA
  • File attachment/upload
  • Submit button

As you can see, all of the basics are covered, plus a few advanced options such as quizzes and the ability to attach and submit files. Whether you need to create a basic contact form or something a little more advanced, such as an online quote request form, Contact Form 7 should suffice.

Adding a drop-down field to a form

How to add a drop-down field to your contact form

As you won’t find the advanced form fields you’ll get with commercial options like Gravity Forms, if you need to create forms that use conditional logic to determine which fields to display based on a user’s selections, or accept payments and include auto-calculating fields, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium forms plugin like Gravity Forms or Ninja Forms.

Helpful Online Documentation and User Support

The Contact Form 7 support forum

The Contact Form 7 support forum is actively monitored by the plugin team

One of the advantages of choosing a commercial plugin over a free option is often the promise of responsive user support. However, Contact Form 7 is supported via the WordPress Plugin Directory and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a solution to your problem in the forum archives. If not, new topics are responded to quickly in the forum.

The online documentation has grown over the years and covers everything from getting started to troubleshooting. The Contact Form 7 FAQ is extensive too.

Also, as this is such a popular plugin that’s used by so many websites, it’s highly unlikely that it will be abandoned anytime soon.

Contact Form 7 Add-ons

Like many of the best WordPress plugins, a number of third-party add-ons have been created to enhance Contact Form 7.

Contact Form 7 Skins add-on

Contact Form 7 Skins add-on plugin in action

If you’re not familiar with CSS, customizing the appearance of your forms can be a little tricky with Contact Form 7. While the forms do generally blend in well with most WordPress themes, there are a few add-ons that can help you change their appearance. Contact Form 7 Skins is a popular option, as is Custom Skins Contact Form 7.

Contact Form DB Plugin

Use the free Contact Form DB plugin to store form entries in your WordPress database

Another useful add-on is the free Contact Form DB. After enabling this plugin, form entries will now be stored in your WordPress database and made available through your WordPress Dashboard. If you want to reduce the risk of losing form submissions or you’d like to create a central location where form entries can be stored and viewed, using an add-on like Contact Form DB is highly recommended. Flamingo is another free plugin with similar functionality.

As mentioned, the free Postman SMTP mailer plugin might be able to help you overcome problems that can arise from trying to send form submissions to an email address with a different domain to your website.

Other Features of Contact Form 7

Form submission confirmation message

The default form submission confirmation message

Some other reasons why you might want to choose Contact Form 7 include:

  • AJAX-powered form submissions to avoid page reloads
  • Akismet and CAPTCHA anti-spam support to reduce contact form spam
  • Ability to display custom submission confirmation and error messages
  • Ability to display form field placeholder text
  • Ability to track form submissions with Google Analytics
  • Ability to allow users to select a form recipient
  • Ability to redirect users to another URL after form submissions

As Contact Form 7 is currently on version 4.5.1 and is updated on a regular basis, there’s a good chance new features will be added in the future.

Drawbacks of Contact Form 7

If you just want a quick and easy way to add a contact form to your WordPress website, Contact Form 7 is hard to beat. However, it’s not a perfect solution and does have some drawbacks.

The Contact Form 7 form builder interface

The Contact Form 7 form builder interface is one of this plugin’s drawbacks

One area where Contact Form 7 falls behind the completion is its form builder interface. Unlike WPForms and some other free and commercial form plugins, there’s no drag-and-drop form builder tool.

As we covered earlier, the process for adding additional fields to your forms is a little protracted. Creating custom forms isn’t too complicated, but a drag-and-drop form builder with a preview window would improve things considerably. There’s also no quick way to change the appearance and styling of your forms.

The WPForms Plugin User Interface

Some other free form plugins like WPForms feature more user-friendly form builder interfaces

A minor complaint is that Contact Form 7 doesn’t add a button to the WordPress Editor that gives you an easy way to insert forms into your content. Instead, you must copy and paste the form shortcode into your content. This isn’t a deal breaker, but again, being able to insert forms into your posts and pages from the WordPress Editor would improve the user experience.

Contact Form 7 doesn't add a button to the WordPress editor

An “Add Forms” button on the WordPress Editor would be nice

Undelivered form entries can be a real problem, especially if you’re using your contact form to accept message from potential new clients or customers. One way to overcome this issue is to save form entries in your WordPress database and make them available through your WordPress Dashboard.

Unfortunately, out of the box, Contact Form 7 doesn’t have this feature. However, as mentioned in the add-ons section, there are at least two free plugins – Flamingo and Contact Form DB – that can store your form submissions for safe keeping.

Final Thoughts

In short: Contact Form 7 is a great option for anyone who wants to quickly add a contact form to their WordPress website for free.

You won’t be able to create the same kind of advanced forms you can with a tool like Gravity Forms or WPForms Pro. You can, however, add dropdown menus, checkboxes, and file attachment fields to your forms — as such, it’s probably best to think of Contact Form 7 as a contact form builder rather than a full-on multi-purpose forms solution.

There’s also no commercial or premium version of Contact Form 7. In one way, this is good. There are no upsells or disabled features. On the other hand however, there’s also no option of upgrading as your requirements grow, whether you need access to more powerful features or more responsive support.

That said, if all you need is to add a straightforward contact form (for free) with the option of adding a few more fields, Contact Form 7 could very well be just what you’re looking for!

Used/using Contact Form 7? Thoughts?

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By Joe Fylan

Joe is an experienced WordPress user who enjoys sharing the tips and knowledge he's picked up from using this fantastic platform for many years. You can find out more about Joe on his website.
Comments (policy)
  • Mike

    I started using Contact Form 7 back in 2009. Coming from an HTML / CSS background, I found CF7 very easy to customize. I’d rather work directly with code than be limited to a plugin’s design options. For anyone coming from a traditional Web design background, CF7 should make them feel right at home.

  • I have a question on the back-end of the CF7.
    Why is it that [your-email] in the field where the sender is considered as error?
    I believe that the user email must be on the sender part.

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