How to Use Gravity Forms: The Ultimate Guide

"Importing entries to Gravity Forms". The Gravity Forms logo next to a green and blue icon

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Gravity Forms is the most powerful form plugin for WordPress. Find out how to set up forms, configure feeds and extend Gravity Forms with powerful add-ons.

Estimated reading time: 25 minutes

From contact forms to billing forms to customer surveys and reviews, forms are more than a tool for collecting data. Forms are the way your business connects with your customers

Gravity Forms is the most powerful and innovative form plugin for WordPress. Thousands of businesses use Gravity Forms to collect customer details, register users, take payments, and much more.

In this guide, we’re going to walk you through how to get the most out of Gravity Forms for your blog or business, how to extend Gravity Forms to fit your needs, and the importance of web form accessibility.

What Is Gravity Forms?

Gravity Forms is a WordPress plugin that allows you to build complex, accessible forms using an intuitive drag-and-drop builder.

Although Gravity Forms is branded as a form plugin, it’s so much more than that. Gravity Forms has integrations with some of the leading web applications and online service providers. This includes Hubspot, Mailchimp, Aweber, Slack, Zapier, PayPal, and more!

The Gravity Forms ecosystem is innovative and dynamic. Gravity Forms releases frequent updates and are well-known for their 5-star customer support. 

There are also seven Gravity Forms certified developers (including GravityView!) that build and maintain powerful add-ons, allowing you to create flexible, WordPress-powered web apps built upon Gravity Forms.

Why Gravity Forms Is the Best WordPress Form Plugin

If you’re a WordPress user, you’ve probably come across a number of different form plugins. So, what makes Gravity Forms better than all the rest?

Accessibility

Web accessibility is the process of creating websites that are easy to navigate and can be used by people with visual impairments or other disabilities.

Gravity Forms is the leader when it comes to web form accessibility. The release of Gravity Forms 2.5 included a range of accessibility improvements, allowing you to build forms that are WCAG compliant.

Some feature of Gravity Forms that make it accessible include:

  • Robust HTML5 markup
  • Enhanced screen reader feedback for users with visual impairments
  • The possibility of providing feedback on form errors
  • Improved keyboard navigation
  • Warnings about form accessibility issues

The CDC estimates that 26% of US adults have some form of disability, that’s around 60 million people! Optimizing your web form for accessibility can increase your user base, boost your SEO and improve the online experience for everyone.

Ease of Use

Gravity Forms is optimized for ease of use. It comes with an intuitive drag and drop, visual form editor that allows you to build complex forms with only a few clicks.

Version 2.5 includes a refresh to the form editor, making it a pleasure to use. Field settings are neatly set out and conditional logic settings open up in a fly-out panel, providing plenty of space to manage complex rules.

The form editor also includes a search field that allows you to find fields that you need without having to scroll through all of the different options. You can also drag and drop fields into columns, without having to add CSS classes. This makes the form-building process easy and efficient.

Finally, setting up a new form is easy. Just head over to the template library and choose from one of several Gravity Forms templates!

Extensibility and Flexibility

One of the most powerful aspects of Gravity Forms is its extensibility and flexibility. There is a range of extensions available that allow Gravity Forms to integrate with other popular applications.

Third-party, certified Gravity Forms developers also offer extensions that turn Gravity Forms into much more than a form plugin.

Displaying form submissions on the front end, exporting data to PDF, and performing advanced calculations on form entries are some of the things you can do using third-party extensions.

Gravity Forms can be used as the foundation for membership websites, online stores, employee databases, and more.

Features

Another reason why Gravity Forms is the most powerful WordPress form plugin is that it ships with a host of impressive features.

When building forms, there is a wide variety of fields to choose from including basic input fields, and more advanced fields like file uploads, product pricing, date, and time.

Conditional logic is also built into Gravity Forms, allowing you to show or hide form fields based on user selections. This allows you to create personalized forms that collect relevant information.

Finally, Gravity Forms allows you to set up notifications that can work like autoresponders to keep you in the know every time a user submits one of your forms. 

Spam Prevention

One of the most annoying things to do deal with as a website owner is spam form submissions! Almost everyone has encountered this problem before. You create a new contact form on your site and within days you find your inbox flooded with spam messages.

With Gravity Forms, you won’t have to worry about spam submissions anymore! From enabling the sophisticated honeypot feature to installing a free add-on, there are several effective ways to prevent Gravity Forms spam.

Creating Forms

Let’s get into the heart of this guide, starting with creating forms!

Form Field Types

Gravity Forms supports over 30 form fields including dropdowns, checkboxes, file uploads, and much more. While most fields come with Gravity Forms core, some require you to install specific add-ons.

Gravity Forms standard fields

There are four categories of fields – Standard, Advanced, Post, and Pricing. Let’s take a look at each one below.

Standard Fields

Standard Fields include general form fields that you would expect to see in most web forms. There are ten standard fields, they are:

  • Single Line Text
  • Paragraph Text
  • Drop Down
  • Number
  • Checkboxes
  • Radio Buttons
  • Hidden
  • HTML
  • Section Break
  • Page Break

Advanced Fields

Advanced fields are helpful for specific use cases and often contain multiple input fields within one container.

  • Name
  • Date
  • Time
  • Phone
  • Address
  • Website
  • Username 
  • Password 
  • Email
  • File Upload
  • CAPTCHA
  • List
  • Multi Select
  • Consent
  • Chained Selects 
  • Quiz 
  • Survey 

Post Fields

Using post fields you can turn form submissions into WordPress posts. Gravity Forms supports the following post fields:

  • Post Title
  • Post Body
  • Post Excerpt
  • Post Tags
  • Post Category
  • Post Image
  • Post Custom Field

Pricing Fields

Pricing fields allow you to create product order forms. You can then use Gravity Forms Add-ons to integrate your forms with payment processors such as Stripe, PayPal, and more.

  • Product
  • Option
  • Quantity
  • Shipping
  • Total
  • 2Checkout card field
  • Mollie card field
  • Square card field 
  • Stripe card field 
  • Credit Card

To add a field to your form, drag and drop it from the right-hand panel onto your form.

Editing a form by dragging and dropping fields

Now that you know how to construct a new form using the different field types, you can start to customize your form by editing the field settings.

Field Settings

Each field in Gravity Forms comes with its own set of options, allowing you to customize how it looks and functions on the front end.

To bring up the Field Settings, click on a field in your form or hover over it and click on the settings icon that appears on the left-hand side.

The Settings icon above a form field

Under Field Settings, there are four groups of options – General, Appearance, Advanced and Conditional Logic. 

Tabs under "Field Settings"

Under General, you’ll find a range of basic options that allow you to change the label text, add a description, mark the field as required, and more.

Appearance is where you can alter the look of your fields on the front end. Here you can add placeholder text, add CSS classes and adjust field sizing.

The Advanced options allow you to change visibility settings, set default values, and add admin labels.

And finally, Conditional Logic allows you to show or hide fields based on parameters that you set. Conditional Logic settings open in a separate fly-out menu, giving you enough room to create complex rules.

Conditional Logic Settings fly-out panel

To learn more about conditional logic in gravity Forms, read Gravity Forms Conditional Logic: The Ultimate Guide.

Multi-Page Forms

As a user, it’s no fun staring at long, complicated forms. Multi-page forms improve the user experience by breaking up form fields into manageable sections.

You can create a multi-page form by inserting the Page field where you want one section to end and another to begin.

An arrow pointing to a "Page Break" on the Gravity Forms Edit Form screen

When a user is filling in a multi-page form, they will only see form fields for one page at a time. When they are finished filling in fields on the current page, they can click “next” to go to the next page.

Notifications

Gravity Forms allows you to create email notifications that send to admins or users when you receive a new form submission.

You can create a new notification by going to the forms page, hovering over your form, and clicking on Settings. Next, click on Notifications in the left-hand menu and then Add New.

Gravity Forms Notification screen with the "Add New" button highlighted

When creating a new notification, you can insert Gravity Forms merge tags in order to pull through information submitted by a user in their entry.

Gravity Forms Notification that says "You received a new form submission! Here are the details..." with the "all fields" merge tag

After configuring your notifications, you can create confirmations that allow you to control what the user sees after they submit your form.

Confirmations

Gravity Forms confirmations allow you to display messages to users after they submit your form, send them to a page on your site or redirect them to a custom URL.

You can also use conditional logic to display confirmations based on specific parameters. This allows you to target different users with different messages and personalize the user experience.

To create a new confirmation, hover over your form, hover over Settings, and click Confirmations.

The Gravity Forms Confirmation containing the "name" merge tag

For text confirmations, you can use merge tags to insert user-inputted content. In the example above, we’re using the “Name” field to personalize the confirmation message.

Form Feeds Connect Gravity Forms to the World! 🌏

Feeds allow you to send information between Gravity Forms and an external application or service each time a user submits your form.

While notifications send emails, feeds allow you to share information directly with external platforms such as customer management systems or payment gateways.

When opening the form settings page, you’ll see feeds show up on the left.

For example, if you’re using the User Registration add-on, you’ll see a User Registration feed appear, allowing you to register new users when they submit your form.

The Gravity Forms User Registration feed

Feeds allow you to:

  • Process payments through third parties like PayPal or Stripe
  • Send form information to CRM platforms like ActiveCampaign
  • Initiate support requests through HelpScout
  • Send files to external storage services like Dropbox.

Now you know how to create and configure a new form in Gravity Forms! The next step is to display that form on a page or post.

Embed Gravity Forms on Your Website

It’s easy to embed forms that you create inside WordPress pages or posts. Here’s how to do it.

The WordPress Block Editor (Gutenberg)

If you’re using the WordPress block editor (also known as “Gutenberg”), you can use the Gravity Forms block to add a form to your post or page.

Start by creating a new page (or edit an existing one). Next, click the plus icon to add a new block to your layout and search for “Gravity Forms”.

The "Gravity Forms" block in the WordPress block editor

After adding the block to your page, select your form from the dropdown menu. You should now see a preview of your form load inside the editor. 

In the right-hand panel, there are some options that allow you to change the look of your form. You can show the title, show the description, and turn on AJAX submit.

Embed Shortcode

If you’re still using the classic editor, you can manually add forms to your pages using the [gravityforms] shortcode.

The shortcode takes the following parameters:

  • id (The ID of your form)
  • title (Whether or not to display the form title, either true or false)
  • description (Whether or not to display the form description, either true or false)
  • ajax (Whether or not to use AJAX when submitting the form, either true or false)

To find the ID of your form, hover over Forms in the left-hand menu and click Forms. You’ll see the form ID in the first column on the right.

The Forms page in Gravity Forms with the ID column on the right

A basic shortcode template looks like this:

[gravityform id="2" title="true" description="true" ajax="true"]

After constructing your shortcode, all you need to do is copy and paste it into a page or post on your website.

Divi Builder

The Divi theme by Elegantthemes is the most popular WordPress theme on the market. One of the reasons for this is that it comes with its own visual page builder called the Divi builder.

Unfortunately, as of yet, Divi does not offer a Gravity Forms module. But you can still embed a Gravity Form in Divi by copying and pasting your shortcode into a Code module.

If you want finer control over your form parameters, and the ability to add custom styles, you can use the WP Tools Gravity Forms Divi Module plugin. 

The plugin adds a Gravity Forms module to the Divi Builder, allowing you to modify shortcode parameters and form styles from inside the Divi editor.

Elementor

Elementor is used by more than 5,000,000 websites, making it one of the most popular WordPress page builders.

The Elementor builder does not yet include a Gravity Forms widget, but you can add one by downloading and installing the PowerPack Addons for Elementor plugin.

After activating the plugin, edit your post or page and search for “Gravity Forms” in the search bar at the top left. You should see the Gravity Forms widget appear. Drag and drop it into your page.

The "Gravity Forms" Elementor widget

Next, select your form from the dropdown menu on the left and adjust the shortcode parameters. By clicking on the Style tab you can also style your form from inside the Elementor editor.

The CSS style options for gravity Forms inside the Elementor page builder

There’s another way to embed Gravity Forms in Elementor and that’s by pasting the [gravityforms] shortcode into an Elementor Shortcode widget. But if you do this, you won’t be able to style your forms using the Elementor editor.

Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder is another popular WordPress page builder that lets you create complex layouts using a drag and drop editor.

Beaver Builder does not integrate directly with Gravity Forms but you can embed a form in Beaver Builder by using the

Oops! We could not locate your form.

shortcode.

First, edit your page, click the plus icon in the top right, and drag and drop a Text Editor module onto your layout.

Next, paste your form shortcode into the text module and click Save

A Beaver Builder "Text Editor" module containing the "gravityform" shortcode

You should now see a preview of your form load inside the Beaver Builder editor.

If you’re looking for a way to style your Gravity Forms from inside Beaver Builder, check out Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder.

Gravity Forms Merge Tags

Merge tags are one of the most important features of Gravity Forms. Merge tags allow you to dynamically load content from user inputs.

While shortcodes use square brackets, merge tags use curly braces, like this {name:2}.

Merge tags take three parameters:

  • descriptor (This is user-defined for readability. By default it’s the field name)
  • field_id (The is the ID of the field you want to display)
  • modifier (Modifiers allows you to display field labels or specific values from a Drop Down or Checkbox)

You can use merge tags inside notifications, confirmations, feeds, views – pretty much anywhere in Gravity Forms!

Merge tags allow you to personalize your messages and display important user information on the front end.

Here’s an example of a notification that will be sent to a support technician after someone submits a contact request. The first merge tag pulls through the first name of the user and the second one displays their email address.

A Gravity Forms notification containing merge tags that says "A new contact request was submitted by Name. Please contact them at Email. Thanks!"

Here’s what the email looks like.

An email containing the text "A new contact request was submitted by Frederick. Please contact them at frederick@zyxdesigns.co. Thanks!"

Here’s another example of how you could create a Confirmation to send field data via a URL query string.

A redirect confirmation in containing merge tags inside a query string

Now you know how to create forms, embed them into pages, and use merge tags to dynamically load field data!

Next, we’ll look at how you can use Gravity Forms to sell products on your website or build a robust membership system.

Selling Products with Gravity Forms

Remember when we said that Gravity Forms is more than a form plugin? We were being serious! In fact, Gravity Forms can act as a full eCommerce solution.

No matter what business you’re in you can use Gravity Forms to turn your WordPress site into an online store.

It’s important to note that payment processors are not available with the Basic plan. You’ll need either a Pro or Elite license to take payments on your site.

Gravity Forms supports the following payment add-ons:

  • PayPal (Checkout and Standard and Payments Pro)
  • Stripe
  • 2Checkout
  • Authorize.net
  • Square

Once you’ve chosen a payment processor, it’s time to build your payment form.

Creating a Payment Form

To create a new form hover over Forms and click on New Form. Now give your form a name and start adding fields using the drag and drop editor.

The form fields that you add will depend on your business and the information you need to capture. Most payment forms include a Name, Email, Phone, and Address field.

The Edit Form screen in Gravity Forms displaying the Advanced Fields

Next, you’ll need to add pricing fields to calculate product costs, shipping fees, and process transactions.

You can find all product and payment-related fields under “Pricing Fields”.

Gravity Forms Pricing fields

After adding your product fields and choosing a checkout method, the next step is to configure a new feed to connect your form with your payment processor.

For example, if you’re using Stripe, hover over Settings, click Stripe and enter your Stripe details.

The Stripe feed in Gravity Forms

All that’s left to do is embed your payment form on a page or post on your website so that users can buy your products/services. That’s it!

Taking it Further

If you want to take it one step further and create a complete eCommerce platform? Take advantage of the various Gravity Forms integrations to connect your form with email marketing software, customer management platforms, or invoicing software like Freshbooks.

You can also use the Coupons add-on to create discounts and promotions.

Creating a Membership Site Using Gravity Forms

Using Gravity Forms in combination with a few other plugins, you can create a powerful membership site that allows you to register users and restrict content.

To register new users through Gravity Forms, you’ll need the User Registration add-on. The add-on will create a new user when they submit your form.

The first thing you’ll need to do is create the registration form. For the user registration add-on to work, you need to include fields for the username and email address along with any other fields that you feel are necessary.

Next, you need to create a new User Registration feed to ensure your form can register new users.

The User Registration feed in Gravity Forms

After configuring the User Registration feed, new users can sign up for your membership plan by filling out your registration form. 

But what if you want to charge people a fee to sign-up? In that case, you can connect the User Registration add-on with the PayPal add-on to ensure new users are only registered confirming payment.

Restricting Content

After getting your registration form working, you’ll need a way to restrict content to members only. That’s easy using the infamous Members plugin by Memberpress.

The Members plugin adds a Content Permissions meta box to all of your pages and posts. This allows you to restrict content to users with specific roles.

The "Content Permissions" meta box showing the different WordPress user roles

You can also use shortcodes to hide certain content on your website.

Display User Profiles

User registration and content restriction are two crucial aspects of any membership site. But what if you want to take it a step further by displaying user profiles?

GravityView offers the perfect solution! GravityView is a powerful add-on for Gravity Forms that allows you to display entry data on the front end of your website.

The GravityView plugin offers several layout options and gives you full control over what fields to display. You can also allow users to edit their own entries from the front end. The best part about GravityView is that you can set it up in minutes without a single line of code.

Extending Gravity Forms with Add-Ons

Part of what makes Gravity Forms such a powerful plugin is its extensibility. Using the vast library of add-ons you can build almost anything with Gravity Forms.

Gravity Forms Add-Ons

Gravity Forms offers a range of add-ons depending on which license you buy. There are three licensing options – Basic, Pro, and Elite. Let’s take a look at each one below.

Basic

The Basic license costs $59/year and gives you access to 15 add-ons allowing you to integrate Gravity Forms with popular third-party applications. 

Here are some of the add-ons included in the Basic license:

  • Hubspot
  • Aweber
  • Constant Contact
  • Mailchimp
  • ActiveCampaign

Pro

The Pro license includes everything in the Basic license and gives you access to an additional 18 add-ons. The Pro option costs $159/year.

Some of the add-ons included in the Pro license are:

  • Dropbox
  • Freshbooks
  • Help Scout
  • PayPal
  • Stripe

Elite

The Gravity Forms Elite license includes everything in the first two tiers as well as an additional 13 add-ons. The Elite license costs $259/year.

Here are some of the add-ons included in the Elite option:

  • User Registration
  • Survey
  • Polls
  • Quiz
  • Coupons

Certified Developers

There are also seven Gravity Forms certified developers that build outstanding plugins aimed at extending and improving Gravity Forms.

Certified developers are long-standing members of the Gravity Forms community and are trusted by Gravity Forms for their top-notch development and support.

Here’s a quick overview of each developer and the plugins that they offer.

GravityView

Here at GravityView, we are proud to offer the best solutions for importing, exporting, editing, and displaying Gravity Forms entries!

Our core plugin, GravityView, allows you to display form data on the front end of your website. Display form entries in a table, as a list, on a map, on a calendar, and more.

We also offer several other plugins and extensions to revolutionize what you can do using Gravity Forms.

GFChart

GFChart allows you to turn your form data into pleasing visualizations and calculations. Using GFChart you can create reports and extract important insights from Gravity Forms entries.

GFChart includes scheduled email reports, front-end filtering options, and pre-built templates to get you started.

JetSloth

The team at JetSloth build helpful add-ons for Gravity Forms that focus on improving the user experience.

Some of the add-ons they offer include Collapsible Sections for grouping form fields into accordion-style sections and Image Choices, allowing you to add images to radio buttons and checkboxes.

GravityPDF

GravityPDF allows you to turn your form submissions into beautiful, customized PDF files that you can then download or email.

The plugin generates PDFs on your server so your data is never shared with any third parties. GravityPDF comes with four customizable PDF templates and more are available with higher tiers.

Gravity Wiz

Gravity Wiz offers a product called Gravity Perks – a suite of powerful add-ons providing advanced functionality for Gravity Forms.

Each perk offered by Gravity Wiz is well-thought-out, handling a variety of use-cases. Two of the most popular perks are: Nested Forms (which allows you to create forms within forms – formception?!) and, Conditional Pricing (which allows you to create variable product pricing forms).

Gravity Flow

Gravity Flow creates business process management tools that allow you to create robust, automated workflows inside Gravity Forms.

The Gravity Flow add-ons allow you to process your form submissions any way you like by choosing from over 40 action steps including approvals, rejections, reverts, assignments, and conditional logic.

ForGravity

In their own words, ForGravity builds add-ons aimed at supercharging your forms. You can schedule automated tasks, generate fillable PDFs and restrict form access and permissions. ForGravity plugins can reduce your Gravity Forms admin time and optimize your forms.

While sticking with official add-ons or add-ons created by certified developers is always advisable, there is a range of other lesser-known add-ons for Gravity Forms that are often underrated and underutilized!

Backing Up Your Gravity Forms Data

Anyone who has ever owned a website will know how important it is to backup your data.

Websites can get hacked, servers can go down. It happens and it’s (mostly) out of our control. Ensuring you periodically back up your Gravity Forms data could save you hours of time and a lot of frustration.

There are two main ways to back up your Gravity Forms data.

Exporting Forms and Data

In Gravity Forms, you can export both your forms and your entries. This is a great way to ensure that you always have a copy of your data.

To export data from Gravity Forms, hover over Forms in your WordPress admin menu and click on Import/Export.

From the right-hand menu, you can choose whether you want to export entries or forms. If you’re exporting entries, you can choose which fields to include, select a date range, and filter entries based on conditional logic.

The "Import/Export" page under "Forms" in WordPress

Another way to back up your data is by doing a full database backup of your WordPress site.

Backing Up Your WordPress Database

Gravity Forms data is stored in your WordPress database. Backing up your database tables is a great way to safeguard your Gravity Forms data.

To backup your form data, you can use one of the many powerful WordPress backup plugins.

Getting Started with Gravity Forms: Final Thoughts

Gravity Forms is the most powerful and reliable form plugin for WordPress.

Gravity Forms is a leader in website accessibility, allowing you to build forms that are SEO optimized and WCAG compliant using an intuitive drag and drop interface.

The power of Gravity Forms lies in its extensibility and flexibility. There is a range of add-ons available for Gravity Forms, allowing you to integrate it with other popular applications. 

There are also seven Gravity Forms certified developers that offer a variety of robust extensions for Gravity Forms allowing you to display submission data on the front end, export customized PDFs, create automated workflows, and much more.