While Contact Form 7 has been the go-to contact form plugin for nearly a decade, it is not keeping up with critical site needs like speed, GDPR, and integrations for all our site form needs.
See why I chose Formidable Forms as my replacement plugin for CF7, plus tips on what you may want to consider when making the switch too.
Plugins I Checked
While searching for a replacement to Contact Form 7, I checked into these alternatives:
- Formidable Forms
- Caldera Forms
- Gravity Forms
WPForms – it’s fine for a simple contact form. But it does not include reCaptcha in the free version.
Caldera Forms – yuck!!! I didn’t find the interface intuitive at all, and that’s as far as I got with checking it.
Gravity Forms – it can do ANYTHING, and that is the problem. It’s overkill for my needs.
Formidable Forms – met all of my criteria, which I cover below.
It Started with the Thank You Page
A super nice way to let your visitors know that their contact form has been sent to you is to redirect them to a special Thank You page saying so.
That page can also be a great marketing tool where you can include links to your most popular content, or any other incentive to keep folks poking around on your site.
Contact Form 7 used to have such a redirect option, albeit by way of adding an extra directive, which is not all that intuitive, and was a bit of a hidden function.
But due to a security issue, it stopped supporting that function.
So, the best you could do was have a little message at the end of the form displaying a message that it had been sent.
More modern contact form plugins have no such security restriction with the redirect, and they have an easy way for you to add that Thank You page redirect too.
It’s All About Speed
Fast page load time counts more than ever now, especially on mobile.
We need to run our sites as lean and clean as possible.
Plugins that are visitor-facing, meaning they provide a function that can be seen on the site, often come with their own CSS and JS files.
That adds more requests and weight which make a page load slower.
What’s really bad is a plugin that loads those files on every page/post, even when there is no contact form being displayed.
And that’s exactly what CF7 does.
You have to either get another plugin or add special code to your theme to stop that behavior.
One of the reasons I liked Formidable Forms is that it gives you the option to only load the CSS and JS files on pages where a form appears.
It also gives you the option to completely turn off any of its default styling and use your own.
That way you only load your theme’s CSS file, not one from the plugin.
Google reCaptcha v2 and v3
You don’t want spam bots filling out your contact form.
Contact Form 7 supported a simple math captcha to help confound bots. Unfortunately, they learned how to add those math quiz numbers and they can easily beat that type of simple Captcha now.
And then CF7 natively integrated with a better Captcha plugin and that worked for a while. But the bots learned how to beat it too.
In 2017, Google released reCaptcha v2. It’s the checkbox to prove you are human that you see on so many sites now. And CF7 made a way to natively integrate with it.
It stopped the bots cold!!
Then Google came out with v3. It’s invisible, meaning it doesn’t have a box to check.
CF7 decided to only support v3 after it became available, and it doesn’t work well for some folks. In fact, I’ve read many reports in security forums that it actually allows more spam bots through.
Plus, it puts a little reCaptcha logo in the lower right corner of every page of your site because the CF7 files load on every page, even those with no form.
That’s not exactly invisible, is it?
Formidable Forms supports both reCaptcha v2 and v3, so you can easily use whatever works for you.
With WPForms, you have to purchase the premium version to get reCaptcha support.
Formidable Forms gives it to you in their free version.
GDPR Compliance and Security
One of the things I really liked about Contact Form 7 was that it simply emailed me the form results. It didn’t capture or hold any visitor or form info in the database. In fact, it didn’t even create any database tables.
You would be hard pressed to find a modern contact form plugin that doesn’t at least create database tables, and some, like Gravity Forms, creates LOTS of them.
Formidible Forms creates six tables, but it has a checkbox for you to opt out of saving any form entries in the database. So, they are basically empty tables, which adds no real bulk to your database.
Turning off entries to hold form data in your database keeps your site in GDPR compliance as well, as you are not holding any sensitive personal data (at least on your site).
Plus, if you do hold that info in your database, if your site gets hacked, the hackers get all of names, email addresses, and any other form field info your visitor’s shared with you.
Formidable Forms also has settings to not collect the IP address, or any header info about the browser used or such, that could potentially identify the user’s personal info too. That’s super for GDPR compliance.
Drag and Drop Plus Custom HTML
I need a way to add plain content to explain some of the fields on my intake forms for site services like for site audits.
One of the things I enjoyed about Contact Form 7 was that it gave me a plain HTML editor to add or customize the form content any way I needed. (I’m an old coder, so dealing with plain HTML is fine with me.)
Most of the modern contact form plugins only offer drag and drop fields. There’s no way to easily add the additional HTML content.
Formidable Forms has a drag/drop HTML field that was super simple for me to customize with my own code.
Auto Add Field Results to Email Delivery
The biggest tripping point for new users of Contact Form 7 is that they didn’t know they have to not only customize the form, but also customize the email that is sent to them with the form results.
All modern contact form plugins do that for you. And most allow you to customize it if you want to, but you don’t have to.
We need our forms to look good. Formidable has more styling options than you can shake a stick at!! It’s nearly too many options.
Thank goodness the form looks great already. I only changed my Submit button color and left it at that.
Create Any Type of Form
Most modern form plugins allow you to create multiple types of forms, not just one for a contact page.
You can use it to integrate with your optin or for e-comm purposes too.
Formidable comes with multiple form templates to help you get started.
With Contact Form 7, you have to do all of that from scratch.
Want to Switch to Formidable Forms?
I made a video tutorial on Formidable Forms that highlights the main features and shows you how easy it is to build a form.
I also included it on my Recommended Plugins list.
It’s that good.