Ninja Forms Free vs Ninja Forms Premium – Is It Worth Paying Extra?

If you’re looking for the best way to add forms to your WordPress website, Ninja Forms is a name you’ll almost certainly come across — if you haven’t already!

Below, we’ll be covering both the free and premium versions — comparing the two in detail and exploring their various features to see whether or not the premium version is a product worth paying for.

Ninja Forms 3 Update

Ninja Forms Homepage

Before we get to the real meat of the article — whether you should upgrade from the free to the premium version — it’s worth mentioning the release of Ninja Forms 3. As part of this latest major update, the Ninja Forms user interface has been completely rewritten and redesigned, introducing a new-and-improved drag-and-drop form builder, more intuitive form settings and controls, upgraded form submission options and actions, and lots more.

Because of this upgrade, if you’ve not used Ninja Forms for a while, now is a great time to reacquaint yourself with this powerful WordPress forms plugin — and if you’ve never used Ninja Forms, now is the perfect time to start!

What Can Ninja Forms (Free) Do?

Ninja Forms (Free) Logo

With freemium plugins such as Ninja Forms — where the core functionality is available for free and paying more for commercial upgrades unlocks premium features — it’s understandable to be skeptical. Does the free version offer any real value, or is it just there to steer you towards a paid product?

The good news is that if you simply want to add a contact form to your WordPress website, the free version of Ninja Forms is more than capable. Furthermore, it’s able to do a lot more, and may well meet all your online form requirements. With Ninja Forms, another benefit of the freemium model is that you can test the user experience before you buy.

To help you decide whether you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version of Ninja Forms, before exploring the features you’ll need to pay to access, let’s look at what the free Ninja Forms plugin can do.

Add a Contact Form to Your WordPress Website

After activating Ninja Forms (Free), a prebuilt contact form is added to your WordPress website. This contact form includes the basic fields required by most forms of this type.

Example of the Ninja Forms contact form template

Ninja Forms (Free) adds a basic contact form to your WordPress website

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By default, form submissions are stored in your WordPress database for easy access through your WordPress Dashboard, and are also sent to the email address associated with your WordPress user account. We’ll cover the other actions that can be performed after a form submission in the Form Submission Handling section of this comparison. However, out of the box, the two most useful options are enabled by default.

Ninja Forms settings and controls

The prebuilt contact form is configured to use your WordPress website user account email address

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Because of the Add Form button the plugin adds to the WordPress Editor, inserting forms into your posts and pages is very straightforward.

How to insert a form into your content

Ninja Forms adds a handy button to the WordPress Editor, making adding forms to your posts and pages easy

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The plugin’s ease of use and preconfigured contact form make the free version of Ninja Forms a highly recommended and efficient way to add a contact form to a WordPress website. Moreover, thanks to the features and functionality of Ninja Forms (Free), you can do a lot more with this plugin before you’ll need to upgrade to the premium options.

Publish a Quote Request Form

The free version of Ninja Forms also includes the Quote Request form template. If you use this template, you should have no trouble adding a quote request form to your WordPress website. Alternatively, you could use this template as a starting point for your own custom forms.

The Quote Request form template

The Quote Request form template in the Ninja Forms drag-and-drop form builder

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The Quote Request template will help you collect all the information you need from prospective clients and customers. This template makes great use of many of the form fields available to users of the free version of the plugin.

A selection of the Ninja Forms (Free) form fields

The Quote Request form template uses many of the free form fields

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We’ll examine the user experience and functionality of the Ninja Forms drag-and-drop form builder soon, but, simply put, the form builder makes it very easy to add, remove, and edit the fields of the templates.

Build an Event Registration Form

The Ninja Forms Event Registration form template

Preview of the Ninja Forms free Event Registration form template

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The third and final Ninja Forms (Free) template gives you a quick and easy way to add an event registration form to your WordPress website.

The Event Registration template in the builder

Editing the Event Registration form template in the Ninja Forms builder

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Like the other Ninja Forms templates, this one can also be edited through the builder, and is another great example of what the free version of Ninja Forms can do. However, if you’d like to collect payments from your visitors as part of event registration, you’ll need to purchase one of the Ninja Forms payment-related premium addons.

Create Custom Forms with the Ninja Forms (Free) Fields

The free version of Ninja Forms includes an impressive selection of form fields that compare well to the most popular free WordPress form plugins.

The form fields available to users of the Ninja Forms (Free)

The form fields of the free version of Ninja Forms

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Thanks to these fields, you can easily use the free version of Ninja Forms to design some fairly advanced forms that can include checkboxes, radio lists, dropdown menus, and date pickers. Adding multi-line paragraph text fields as well as single-line text fields is very easy too. The predefined user information fields can save you a lot of time if you need to collect address-related information from your website visitors — simply drag and drop the appropriate options to add fields for city, state, zip, phone, and more.

A form using the Ninja Forms address fields

A basic address collection form created with the free version of Ninja Forms

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Ninja Forms (Free) Form Customization Options

Although the good selection of form fields can help you create some varied online forms with the free version of Ninja Forms, customizing the appearance of your forms isn’t as easy.

Adding custom CSS to your forms

Creating a form layout with two columns requires some knowledge of CSS and custom class names

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The good news is that depending on your chosen WordPress theme, your forms should take on the basic styling of your theme and blend in with the rest of your website. However, one drawback of the free version of Ninja Forms is that, when it comes to creating multi-column forms, using custom layouts, and carrying out other changes to the default layout and styling of your forms, you’re limited in what you can do through the builder interface.

While the online documentation does explain how to create custom row and column form layouts, and add custom CSS to your forms, the simplest way to customize your forms is to upgrade and purchase the Layout and Styles extension.

We’ll soon explore the options for upgrading the free version of Ninja Forms to get more control over the appearance of your forms, but, for now, let’s take a quick look at the improved Ninja Forms 3 drag-and-drop form builder.

Ninja Forms (Free) Drag-and-Drop Form Builder

As mentioned, the release of Ninja Forms version 3 saw a major update to the form builder user interface. The new and improved form builder brings Ninja Forms in line with modern WordPress forms plugins, such as WPForms, and now features its own intuitive drag-and-drop form builder.

New Ninja Forms builder interface

The new Ninja Forms builder interface

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Now, as soon as you hit the Add New Form button, the WordPress Dashboard is replaced with the Ninja Forms builder interface.

Drag and drop form fields

Fields can be dragged and dropped into your forms

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At first glance, this replacement of the WordPress Dashboard area could be a little confusing for some because of the temporary disappearance of the WordPress sidebar and admin toolbar, and change of interface. However, the Ninja Forms builder has been skillfully designed, resulting in an intuitive user experience. Having the extra screen space really does make creating forms much more efficient, which makes abandoning the WordPress user interface a worthwhile tradeoff.

Whether you choose to use one of the templates or to start with a blank form, you’ll be able to drag and drop fields onto your form and into position.

Form fields can be dragged and dropped

Drag and drop form fields to change their location

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Clicking on a field displays its setting, giving you the ability to customize how it looks and functions. Although, as mentioned, if you want to customize the appearance of your forms and fields through the builder, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium Layouts and Styles addon (keep reading to find out what you can do with this extension).

Accessing the field settings through the builder

Each field has its own settings

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We’ll look at the form submission handling capabilities of Ninja Forms (Free) and Premium in more detail next. However, in short, the Emails and Actions section of the builder gives you a quick and easy way to define what happens once a user submits a form.

Controls for the email and actions of the form

Define what happens after a form is submitted via the Emails and Actions settings of the builder

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The Advanced settings section of the form builder allows you to customize how the form is displayed, covering the form title and whether to display it, as well as a few other display-related options. You can also restrict access to the form through the advanced settings, including only making the form available to logged-in users — a feature that would be useful if you were using the forms to accept post submissions from registered users — as well as limiting the number of form submissions accepted.

Advanced form settings of the builder

Ninja Forms (Free) advanced settings make it easy to limit the number of form submissions that will be accepted

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One very useful feature that was added to Ninja Forms 3 is the ability to view the changes that have been made to a form with the option of undoing individual actions.

Undo actions in the form builder

You can now view recent changes to a form and undo individual actions

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You can preview your form at any time, giving you a quick way to see how it will look when it’s published on your website.

Form preview mode

The preview mode demonstrates how your form will look in a WordPress page

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Once you’re happy with your form, hitting the Publish button will save it. Any instances of that form on your website will be instantly updated with the changes.

Form Submission Handling

As mentioned, Ninja Forms will automatically send form submissions to the email address associated with your WordPress website’s admin user account, meaning you don’t have to enter any contact details to get started with Ninja Forms. However, you can also choose to have form submissions delivered to other email addresses, or have a copy of the submission sent to users who have completed a form.

Form submission settings

What happens to submissions can be configured for each individual form

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The free version of the plugin will also store form submissions in your WordPress database, making them accessible from your dashboard area.

VIew form submissions in your dashboard

View form submissions in your WordPress Dashboard with Ninja Forms (Free)

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Having form submissions accessible from within your WordPress Dashboard is a really useful feature that isn’t available with all free WordPress forms plugins. Emails can get lost or deleted, so having a central location where form submissions can be accessed can help you find and recover any missed communications.

View and edit individual form submissions

Ninja Forms makes it easy to review individual form submissions from within your WordPress Dashboard

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You can review the form submissions from the Submissions section of the Ninja Forms area on your WordPress Dashboard. Ninja Forms gives you the ability to filter the submissions by different forms, making it easier to find the submissions you’re looking for.

Export form submissions into Excel

Form submissions can be exported in CSV format for analysis in spreadsheet software such as Excel

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As well as having the ability to view and edit form submissions, you can also export them in CSV format. Being able to open multiple form submissions in a spreadsheet app such as Excel gives you a convenient way to analyze data from surveys and others forms you’ve created with Ninja Forms.

Form Submission Confirmation and Redirection

Create a custom submission confirmation message

Display a custom form submission confirmation message or redirect users to a new page

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Once a user has submitted a form entry, Ninja Forms (Free) gives you the ability to either display a confirmation message or direct the user to a specific URL on your website or elsewhere. Because you can customize the confirmation message, you can take this opportunity to display links to important pages on your website or to your social media profiles.

There are a number of commercial addons available for Ninja Forms that allow other actions to be performed after a form has been submitted. These premium upgrades include:

The above are premium addons for Ninja Forms. However, users of the free plugin can still choose which email addresses form submissions are sent to, store form submissions in the WordPress database, display custom submission messages, and redirect users to a custom URL.

Other Features of Ninja Forms (Free)

As you’ll have noticed, the free version of Ninja Forms is a powerful WordPress forms plugin. In addition to the above features and functionality of Ninja Forms (Free), you can also:

  • create an unlimited number of forms
  • save modified form fields as favorites for reuse on your forms
  • use custom input masks to force correct data and required fields
  • implement anti-spam options including Google reCaptcha, question and response fields, and honeypot fields
  • avoid form submission page reloads thanks to AJAX-powered submissions.

You can view the full list of features and functionality of Ninja Forms (Free) on the plugin page at the WordPress.org directory.

Ninja Forms Premium Upgrade Options

Although you can do a lot with the free version of Ninja Forms, you can do a lot more by upgrading to the premium version of the plugin. There are a number of ways to upgrade, including purchasing addons individually or choosing a predefined package of addons. But is it worth going premium? Let’s find out.

Before we look at the different upgrade options, let’s explore some of the premium addons that are available for Ninja Forms.

Layout and Styles Addon

Available individually for $40, or as part of the Builder Pro pack for $99, the Layout and Styles addon upgrades the Ninja Forms builder. Giving you more control over the appearance of your forms, the Layout and Styles addon is ideal for anyone without CSS skills, or those who are looking for a way to create custom forms faster.

Upgraded form builder using the Layout & Styles add-on

Create multi-column form layouts and resize fields with the Layout and Styles addon

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As well as creating multi-column forms and resizing the form fields, you can also customize the colors and other appearance-related settings of your forms through the drag-and-drop user interface.

Customize form colors with Layout & Styles add-on

Easily customize the appearance of your forms with the Layout & Styles addon

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You’ll also be able to create default custom styles for all the forms and fields on your website along with the ability to export and import your preferences between websites.

Conditional Logic Addon

Controlling form fields with conditional logic

Use conditional logic to show or hide fields, or to pre-populate them based on user input

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With the $49 Conditional Logic addon, you’ll be able to show or hide fields, and also list items based on user input to other form fields. You can also use conditional logic to send out specific notifications based on user input, and change field values too. This powerful addon gives you the ability to create interactive forms that adapt to user inputs.

Other Ninja Forms Premium Addons

Ninja Forms add-ons library

Other notable Ninja Forms Premium addons you may want to consider include:

  • Multi-Part Forms: Break up long forms into multiple pages.
  • Front-End Posting: Create posts, pages, and custom post types from your front-end forms.
  • File Upload: Accept file uploads via your forms and automatically transfer them to your cloud storage space.

There’s also a selection of email marketing addons for popular services such as MailChimp, AWeber, and Constant Contact. The payment gateway addons give you the ability to collect payments via your forms with PayPal and Stripe.

You can view the full list of Ninja Forms addons here.

Ninja Forms Pricing Options

There are a few different ways to upgrade from the free version of Ninja Forms and get access to the premium features:

  • Buy addons individually, with prices ranging from $29 to $129 each.
  • Upgrade to the Personal plan for $99 (Builder Pro addons pack for use on one site).
  • Upgrade to the Professional plan for $199 (Builder Pro addons pack for use on 20 sites).
  • Upgrade to the Agency plan for $499 (all addons for use on unlimited sites).

All options include one year of access to updates and support, with a 50% discount on automatic renewals. Purchasing the Personal or Professional plans also gets you a 20% or 40% discount, respectively, on the price of purchasing additional addons.

You can view the full details of the Ninja Forms pricing plans here, including the details of the 14-day money back guarantee.

Final Thoughts

As we near the end of our look at what this plugin can do and the main differences between Ninja Forms (Free) and Ninja Forms Premium, one question remains. Should you go premium?

The free version of Ninja Forms comes highly recommended. The prebuilt form templates make it very easy to add a nicely formatted quote request or contact form to your WordPress website.

Thanks to the good selection of form fields and the intuitive drag-and-drop page builder, you should be able to create a wide range of forms without upgrading to the premium version of Ninja Forms.

The form submission handling options of the free version are also very impressive. If you need access to the premium features, it’s good to have the option of purchasing addons individually, as well as through the discounted plans and bundles.

When it comes to the competition, the main alternative to Ninja Forms Premium in terms of features and reputation is Gravity Forms (read our in-depth comparison). Both plugins have similar capabilities, although Ninja Forms now has a slicker form builder interface.

The best option for you will depend on your requirements and how much you’re prepared to pay to access them.

However, regardless of the competition, Ninja Forms is without doubt one of the best form plugins for WordPress, and whether you choose the free version or decide to upgrade, you’ll be getting a solid and reliable forms solution that’s easy to use and packed with useful features.

Used/using Ninja Forms free or premium? Thoughts?

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.
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