Most websites have simple contact forms that collect data from site visitors and email it to a specific contact. This is great for low volumes of responses, but it doesn’t give you an easy way to collect and manage dozens or hundreds of responses without slogging through pages and pages of emails.
One of our favorite WordPress plugins is Gravity Forms. This premium plugin lets you create all types of fancy input forms that email the data like usual, but also collects the information in a database which you can export in a spreadsheet format. This gives you an easy way to do simple registrations and surveys without having to transcribe the data out of dozens of emails.
Gravity Forms single site license price is only $40 (US), which is a bargain when you realize everything it can do.
Using Gravity Forms you can setup a simple registration form or survey (simple, meaning there are no payments required — we’ll save that for a future article).
You create a new form with the input fields you want to collect – name, address, phone, email, etc. You can also ask custom questions, multiple choice questions, drop down boxes, etc. You can then define what happens after the form is completed. The system can send an email with the data, and send a confirmation email back to the user. It can even send the data to different email addresses based on responses in the data. Pretty sweet. Even if I plan to collect the data from the database, I still like to have the system send me emails as the registrations come in. It lets me know what kind of response we are getting.
Meanwhile, the data is also being collected in a database by Gravity Forms. When you are ready to process the registrations you can go to the control panel, select the form, and export all the data in CSV format. This format can easily be opened and manipulated by your favorite spreadsheet program.
Other neat features provided by Gravity Forms includes limiting the number of responses, ie. only the first 50 entries, then it won’t take any more. It also allows you schedule a form so it will quit taking responses after a cutoff date. All these features can be very expensive to program in any other tool.
Overall, Gravity Forms is a great plugin that allows powerful forms and data collection on your site for a very small price.