Creating a student database with GravityView

A step-by-step guide to building an alphabetized directory for your university or school

Creating a student database

Creating a student database with GravityView

On our blog, we recently featured a case study of one of our users, Adam Cavotta, who is a Senior University Training Specialist at New Mexico State University. NMSU uses GravityView in nearly 10 different ways. In this ongoing blog series, we’ll teach you how to create similar applications for yourself.

Want to read more about using GravityView at universities, schools, and other educational institutions? Check out our guide.


In this post, we’ll walk through creating a student database. Here’s what our final product will look like (using the default Twenty Seventeen theme):

Student Database

Here’s what it will be able to do:

  • View all student profiles at once
  • Search and filter through student profiles
  • View a specific student’s profile
  • Automatically filter through students
  • Allow administrators to modify student information directly on the front end of the website

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Create a Submission Form

First, we’ll need to create a form in Gravity Forms for adding new students. To do this, go to Forms > New Form on your WordPress Sidebar.

New Form

Tip: Already have a directory file of students? Not to worry. Importing it into Gravity Forms and GravityView is super simple with our Import Entries plugin. You can import CSV files in seconds.

Give your form a title – let’s call it Add a New Student to the Database.

Title for Form

Now we need to add the relevant fields. These will depend on the nature of your school (university vs. elementary school, etc.) Some common options include:

  • First and Last Name
  • ID Number
  • Email
  • Photo
  • Date of Birth
  • Year of Graduation
  • Locker Number
  • Department
  • Enrolled Courses

…and so on.

Let’s add all of the listed items above to our form. To add a field to your form, simply drag it to the left. You can also just click the field to add it.

Tip: Want to make sure that all of the fields are filled out? Be sure to enable “Required” at the bottom of each field.

Required option

For First and Last Name, add the Name field, which is under Advanced Fields.

Field - Name

For ID Number, we can add a Number Field, which is under Standard Fields. If your ID number includes letters or other non-numeral symbols, you’ll need to use a Single Line Text field.

ID Number field

Once you add a Number field, click on it to edit its options. Rename it to “ID Number.”

For Email we’ll use the Advanced Field, Email.

Email field

For Photo, we’ll use a File Upload field, which is under Advanced Fields. Once you add it, click on it to change a few options:

  • Rename it “Student Photo”
  • Type “png, jpg, jpeg, gif” into the Allowed file extensions option. This will only allow users to upload image files (and not other types of files.)
  • Type a number into Maximum File Size option. Typically, an image should not be more than 10-15 MB.

Student Photo

For Date of Birth, we’ll add a Date field, which is under Advanced Fields. Rename the field to “Date of Birth.” We’ll change the date format to be yyyy/mm/dd. You can also add a calendar icon, if you wish.

Date of Birth

For Graduation Year, we’ll add a Radio Buttons field, which is under Standard Fields. Rename it and add an option for every graduation year. To be safe, add at least 10-15 years into the future. Alternatively, we could use another Date field. This will future-proof your field at the cost of being more cumbersome to use.

Date of Graduation

For Locker Number, we’ll add a Number field and rename it.

Locker-Number

For Department / School, we’ll use a Checkbox field. This will allow students to belong to multiple departments or schools. For example, a university student may be a double major in Biology and Philosophy, and thus would belong to the “School of Sciences” and the “School of Humanities.” Be sure to add all of your school/university’s departments.

School

For Major, we’ll add another Checkbox field. Just like the Department field above, this will allow a student to have more than one major.

Major

Finally, for Enrolled Courses, we’ll use a Checkbox field. This will allow an administrator to add a student to multiple courses.

Enrolled Courses

Conditional Logic

Want to only display a particular field if a certain option is selected? For example, you may want to create a specific Enrolled Courses field for each major, rather than have all the courses for all majors listed in one field. That way, only the relevant course options will be displayed.

To do this, you’ll need to use Conditional Logic. First, go to the field that you want to be “activated” only under certain conditions. For example, this may be the Major: Medicine – Enrolled Courses field. Under the Advanced tab, check the box next to Enable Conditional Logic.

Conditional Logic

You can now choose when this field will be displayed (or hidden). For our example, choose Major + is + Medicine. Now, this field will be hidden until the Medicine choice is selected for the Major field.

Conditional Logic

You can create complex logic trees using this functionality.

Press update to finalize and save our form. As a final step, you’ll want to add this form to a page. To do this, create a WordPress page and click Add Form.

Add Form

Now that we’ve created the form, let’s see what it looks like!

Form

Looks good! If you test it out, you’ll see that the Enrolled Courses: Medicine field is using the conditional logic we set up.

Tip: You will want to change the confirmation message. You can do this on the Settings page of your form.

Part 2: Creating a View

Note: For this part, we’ll assume that you have already added a number of students to your database.

Now that we have a form, let’s create a View. A View will allow us to display and modify the entries from the front end of our website, without having to log into the back end.

To start, go to Views – New View on your WordPress sidebar.

New View

Let’s call our View “Student Database.” Under Data Source, select the form we previously created – Add a New Student to the Database.

Data Source

Then, we need to choose a View Type. For our purposes, we want either a Table layout or a Listing layout. The table layout will display all of our entries (students) on one page, in a table, while the Listing layout will display each student individually in a listing. Unless you have very few students, you’ll probably want to use the Table layout.

Now we’re on the View Configuration page. Here’s what we want to create:

  • A Multiple Entries page, where we can view, search, and filter through student profiles
  • A Single Entry page for each student, where we can see all the details (fields) of a particular entry (student)
  • The Edit Entry page, where we can modify the details of a particular entry (student)

Let’s start with the Multiple Entries Context. At the top, under Above Entries Widgets, we want to add some widgets. Click Add Widget and then click on each item to add it to the View. Note that you can also add widgets below the Entries (in the Below Entries Widgets section).

You can customize how it looks by adding it to the Top, Left or Right area.

Show Pagination Info

This will show us how many student entries are currently visible. For example, 20 of 1,000

Page Links

This will add navigation links to multiple pages

Search Bar

This will let us search through the database for a particular stduent

A-Z Entry Filter

This will let us filter students by their first or last name

Widgets

Once we add the widget to the View, you can customize its options by clicking on the blue gear icon. Depending on what functionality you need, there are many possibilities:

  • Edit the Page Links widget to enable show each page number, rather than a summary (e.g. 1 2 3 … 8)
  • Edit the Search Bar widget to customize what is searched through. By default, it will search through all fields. However, you may want to specify it to only search through a particular field, like Name. You probably also want to change “Search Entries” to “Search Students”
  • Edit the A-Z Entry Filter widget to choose which field will be used for alphabetization. You will likely want to select Last, the field for Last Names

Once you’re done adding widgets, scroll down to Entries Fields. This is the main part of our student database. Since the Multiple Entries context is only a broad overview of the students, we’ll only want to add a few specific fields. (We’ll add all of the detailed fields to the Single Entry Context.)

For this example, we’ll add the following three fields:

  • Name
  • ID Number
  • Department / School

Fields in Multiple Entries Context

Then, click on the blue gear icon next to the Name field. Enable Link to single entry at the bottom. This will allow us to click on the student’s name and see their details.

Link to Single Entry option enabled

Our Multiple Entries context should now be good to go!

Settings

Finally, let’s scroll down to the View Settings at the bottom of the View. There are a lot of options here for customizing your View. For our purposes, there are a handful of settings we should be aware of:

  • Under View Settings, you should enable Prevent Direct Access. If you enable this setting, the View will only be accessible on pages where you specifically embed it via a shortcode. This is very important if you want to keep your View private or restricted to particular users.
  • Under Filter and Sort, we can customize our filtering options. This is useful if you want to sort students by a particular field by default (like Last Name). You can also enable sorting by column, which will let you sort students by a field displayed in the View by clicking an arrow. In our example, you can sort the students by Name, ID Number, or Department / School.

Now, let’s take a look at our View! Press Publish and then View on website after the page reloads.

Final product - our student database.

As you can see, our students are now listed in the database.

  • We can click on a letter to filter them by name
  • We can search through the students
  • And we can click on different page numbers.

If you click on a student’s name, you’ll be taken to the Single Entry page. Since we haven’t set this up yet, we’ll do it now! Click Add fields to Single Entry.

Single Entry View of student

On the Single Entry Context, we want to add all the details of a specific student:

Add Fields in settings

Once you’ve added the fields, click Update and then View on website. Now click on the name field for an entry. As you can see, our Single Entry Context now displays all of the information about our student.

Single Entry of student

Note: If you used conditional logic to create specific fields earlier, be sure to add all of these fields to the Single Entry View. By default, empty fields will be hidden. This means that the field will only be displayed if it has content.

Edit Entry

Finally, the Edit Entry page lets administrators change the content of an entry’s fields. An “Edit” link is at the bottom of the Single Entry page by default.


That about covers our guide! If you enjoyed this walkthrough, check out some of the other posts in our blog.

  • Will renew yearly until cancelled.

  • Will renew yearly until cancelled.

  • Will renew yearly until cancelled.

Creating an academic advisor directory

How to make an Academic Advisor directory with Gravity Forms and GravityView

On our blog, we recently featured a case study of one of our users, Adam Cavotta, who is a Senior University Training Specialist at New Mexico State University. NMSU uses GravityView in nearly 10 different ways. In this ongoing blog series, we’ll teach you how to create similar applications for yourself.

Want to read more about using GravityView at universities, schools, and other educational institutions? Check out our guide.


If you’re a university, or other educational institution, you no doubt have a team of academic advisors. Why not make a directory for them like New Mexico State University’s, featured above? In this guide, we’ll walk you through making a directory for yourself.

Here is what our final application will look like:

Academic Advisors

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Create the form

First, we need to make a form for submitting a new academic advisor. To do this, go to Forms > New Form on your WordPress sidebar.

New Form

Then, title your form “Submit a New Academic Advisor.”

Form Name

Now we need to add fields to our form. We need the following information about our advisors:

  • Name
  • Job Title
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • Photo
  • Office Address
  • About / Biography

Let’s add a field to our form for each of these items.

For Name, we can use the Name field, which is under Advanced Fields.

Name

For Job Title, let’s use a Single Line Text field, which you can find under Standard Fields.

Job Title

Click on the field to rename it.

Tip: Want to make sure that all of the fields are filled out? Be sure to enable “Required” at the bottom of each field.

Student Database 04

For Email, let’s use the Email field, found under Advanced Fields.

Email

For Phone Number, we’ll use the Phone field, also under Advanced Fields.

Phone

For Photo, we’ll need to use a File Upload field and customize it.

  • Rename the field to “Photo”
  • Type jpg, gif, png, pdf into the Allowed File Extensions setting. This will restrict uploads to only these file types.
  • Type a number into the Maximum File Size setting. Typically, an image should not be more than 5-10MB.

For Office Address, we can use the Address, under Advanced Fields.

Address

Once you add the field, you can customize how specific you want the address to be. For example, if your directory is for a single college campus, you can probably restrict the input to only Street Address. Alternatively, if you have multiple offices scattered around many cities or countries, you can include the City and Country options.

Address Options

Finally, for About / Biography, we want to use a Paragraph Text field. You can customize the size of the text input area under the Appearance tab.

About

All that’s left to do is add our form to a page. But first, save your form by clicking Update! Create a new WordPress page and give it a title. Add your form by clicking the Add Form button.

Add Form

Now save and preview your page.

Form

Our form looks good! Now we need to build the view.

Step 2: The View

Note: For this part, we’ll assume that you have already submitted a number of entries via your form.

The view is the main part of our application. It will allow us to “view” the academic advisor directory on the front end of our website, without requiring the user to log in.

To create a view, first go to Views > New View on your WordPress sidebar.

New View

Title your view “Academic Advisor Directory” and choose the form we created (Submit a New Academic Advisor) as your Data Source.

Data Source

Now choose a layout. Let’s use a List layout, as we want to display more information about each advisor.

If the physical location of your academic advisors is important, you can also use the Map view. This will display your entries on a map according to their Address field.

List View

Now we’re on the View Configuration page. Let’s start by customizing the Multiple Entries page.

At the top, let’s add a Search Bar widget.

Search Bar

We want to rename it, as “Search Entries” sounds a little impersonal. To do this, click on the blue gear icon next to the field. Then, rename it “Search Advisors”.

Search Options

At the bottom, under Below Entries Widgets, let’s add Show Pagination Info to the left and Page Links to the right. These will show how many entries are displayed on this page and links to other pages, respectively.

Below Entries Widgets

Now scroll back up to the Entries Fields section. To add a field, click +Add Field next to the specific section.

  • For Listing Title, select the Name field
  • For Subheading, select the Job Title field
  • For Image, select the Photo field
  • Under Other Fields, add About / Biography
  • Under Footer Left, add Office Address
  • And Under Footer Right, add Email and Phone

Entries Fields

We want to remove the labels for each of these fields. Why? Because the field content is already obvious – we don’t need to label someone’s name or their photo.

To remove a label, click on the blue gear icon next to a field. Then, uncheck Show Label. Repeat this process for all of our fields.

Show Label

By default, the Address field will have a Map It link beneath the field content. This link opens the address in Google Maps. To remove it, uncheck Show Map Link in the settings.

Show Map Link

Let’s finally take a look at our view to see how it looks.

Final View

Pretty snappy!

The Single Entry View

What if we want to add more information about an advisor on their own, individual page? Or what if an advisor’s “About Me” is too long to easily fit in the Multiple Entries page? Then we need to use the Single Entry view.

Start by clicking on the blue gear icon next to the Photo field. At the bottom, enable Link to single entry. Do the same thing for the Name field.

Link to single entry

Now both the advisor’s photo and name will link to their single entry page. When a user clicks on their photo or name, they will be taken to a more detailed page – the Single Entry page.

You may also want to limit the number of words shown in the About/Biography field on the Multiple Entries page. For example, their biography may be thousands of words long. To do this, edit the field and type in a number.

Maximum words

Now let’s edit the Single Entry view context itself. Click on the Single Entry tab. The layout is essentially the same. We simply have more space.

  • For Listing Title, select the Name field
  • For Subheading, select the Job Title field
  • For Image, select the Photo field
  • Under Other Fields, add About / Biography
  • Under Footer Left, add Office Address
  • And Under Footer Right, add Email and Phone

Remember to uncheck the Show Label option for all of the fields. If we had more fields, we could add them here too.

Save and preview your view. Click on an advisor’s photo or name and you’ll see their single entry page.

Single Entry View

Everything looks as it should! At the bottom of the entry, you’ll also see an Edit Entry button. If you click on it, you’ll be taken to the Edit Entry page, where you can edit the fields of the entry.

View Settings

Finally, let’s briefly talk about the View Settings panel at the bottom of the View Configuration screen. There are many settings here, but only a few are directly relevant to our current project.

Number of Entries Per Page

Under View Settings, you can choose how many entries will be displayed per page.

Number of Entries

Under Filter and Sort, you can choose how the entries will be displayed. By default, they will be displayed in order of their date created (newest to oldest). Let’s change them to be ordered by last name. To do this, select Last under Sort by field.

Sort by Field


That just about covers our guide to building an Academic Advisor directory! Have you built a similar application with GravityView? Let us know!

New Mexico State University logo

Case Study: How New Mexico State University uses GravityView

Are you a university, secondary school, or other educational institution? Interested in using GravityView? Check out our guide or get in touch with any questions.


In this new series, we’ll be talking to GravityView users about how they use our plugin! For our first interview, we’ll be talking to Adam Cavotta at New Mexico State University in New Mexico, USA. Adam works for the Executive Vice President and Provost and his department uses GravityView in a variety of ways:

  • Managing accreditations for various programs
  • Creating an actor and actress database for student films
  • Getting feedback on the university’s strategic plan
  • Creating a directory for academic advisors
  • Annual reports for university boards
  • Collecting and displaying input from educational decision makers
  • Connecting students with research projects
  • Displaying and distributing content from Domenici Institute conferences

For easy navigation, we’ve divided this case study into two parts:

Let’s get started!


Part 1: Why GravityView?

In the first part of this case study, we talk to Adam about his position, his department’s needs, and why he chose to use GravityView in particular.

Can you tell us a little bit about your university department?

AC: I work for the Executive Vice President and Provost at New Mexico State University. The Provost is the chief academic officer of the NMSU system, overseeing the academic colleges, accreditation and assessment of academic programs, as well as other areas of university operations. I serve to support the efforts of the office with various web projects and training initiatives.

What initially led you to search for GravityView or software like it? In other words, what problem did you need to solve?

AC: We have been a long-time customer of Gravity Forms and we’ve tried several methods to leverage information collected via Gravity Forms to display and otherwise use the information collected.

Gravity Forms

When I noticed GravityView was a solution to solve this problem, I requested a license because we had a big project coming up that we needed to have up and running in short order. The project was to collect input from various stakeholders around the state, including college and university administrators, teachers/faculty, students, and citizens of New Mexico regarding state higher education reform of the general education curriculum.

Why did you choose Gravity Forms and GravityView in particular? Did you try any other software programs first?

AC: With so much free software available for WordPress, I generally tend to find the free solutions that help us to get where we need to be. Regarding Gravity Forms, we needed a reliable and secure way to work with forms for all of our sites, so when we moved to WordPress the first thing our entire university did is purchase Gravity Forms.

Regarding GravityView and the task that we had set out to complete, we tried several plugins and some coding. This includes plugins and we briefly tried a plugin called ‘Contact Form DB’. The plugin was a bit easier than trying to code my own plugin or use other plugins (like WCK – Custom Fields and Custom Post Types Creator) in conjunction with child theme enhancements, but it only captures data submitted live. In other words, form data previously submitted couldn’t be queried and this was very limiting. We also tried using third party integration services, such as Zapier, but this was a complicated multipoint solution that was difficult to bring together.

Once I noticed that we could do everything we were looking to do, get support for the product, and get access to additional add-ons, like the Import Entries add-on, I was sold.

I heard about GravityView some time ago, but we had stayed away from it because it was a fee-based product and we already had broad use of Gravity Forms and WPMU DEV plugins, which central IT pays for. Once I noticed that we could do everything we were looking to do, get support for the product, and get access to additional add-ons, like the Import Entries add-on, I was sold. It took little convincing to get the funds for our office to pay for it given the importance of the task and the timeline.

Floaty, our mascot

Part 2: How NMSU Uses GravityView

In the second half of this case study, we discuss the particular ways in which NMSU uses GravityView.

What projects do you use GravityView for?

AC: Once we had GravityView we realized how many situations existed where we could use it to solve problems. It all started with our need to collect and SHARE feedback about our activities and initiatives. As a state university, it is our responsibility to be transparent and collaborative with respect to how the institution leads education efforts in the state and how we provide services and resources to our students and the broader community.

Once we had GravityView we realized how many situations existed where we could use it to solve problems. It all started with our need to collect and SHARE feedback about our activities and initiatives.

Gravity Forms and GravityView allow for this and most of our projects involve collecting input from the website and displaying and organizing it for everyone to read. I count about ten projects that use GravityView, although I’ve only detailed eight of them for this interview.

Accreditation for specialized programs

NMSU Accreditations and Recognitions System-Wide

AC: Accreditation is basically a process whereby a third-party validates that an institution delivers on their promises of providing programs that represent quality education and provide credentials sufficient for graduating students to enter professional life.

We needed a way for the leaders of each of these academic programs to provide updated reports to the general public about the type, status, and activities involved in their specialized program accreditation.

For a university of our size, we have more than just one accreditation. We have a global accreditation for the entire university system, but other programs, such as in Nursing, Agriculture, and Business, have their own, domain-specific, accreditors. We needed a way for the leaders of each of these academic programs to provide updated reports to the general public about the type, status, and activities involved in their specialized program accreditation.

One great benefit…is that the leaders in their respective areas get to directly input the details, making the management of information less laborious, more consistent, and more transparent.

The above link was used to create the list of specialized program accreditation at NMSU. One great benefit of this is that the leaders in their respective areas get to directly input the details, making the management of information less laborious, more consistent, and more transparent.

Actor database for the NMSU Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts

Actor and Actress Database
Note: the NMSU Actor Database is a private webpage.

AC: The CMI department (Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts) often casts actors for various productions. Actors can volunteer by completing a form on the CMI website, but the department wanted to have a searchable list that the directors and faculty could use to select actors to call

Want to build your own Actor/Actress database with GravityView? Check out our walkthrough guide.

NMSU Strategic Plan

Boards for Feedback
AC: As with any strategic planning process, it’s important to collect input from various stakeholders to capture the best ideas and frame our efforts in a continuous quality improvement mindset. As such, we developed a feedback form related to the strategic plan and posted the input on the website.

Academic Advisor Directory

Advisor Database
Our university recently changed from a distributed advising model (where advisors were located in each of the colleges) to a centralized model. As such, it was very important to provide mechanisms for students locate their advisors and get a sense of who they are before coming to meet with them. Working with the Advising area, we created a directory of advisors and an input form that the department could use to update the list.

Need to build your own Academic Advisor database? We’ve got you covered – follow our guide.

Note: The “Look Up Your Advisor” function that is linked to from the Directory page is not a GravityView solution.

University Boards Website

University Boards Annual Reports

AC: University policy requires that each official committee or board submit an annual report regarding their activities. We used GravityView to list the contents of these reports and provide a method for them to update their report from last year, as many details of the report remain the same from year to year. To do so, we use the Gravity Forms import add-on to create duplicate copies of reports for committee chairs to update, which has saved a lot of time.

In addition, this process was previously on paper and the website didn’t provide as much detail regarding the activities of the committees, which makes this solution more transparent. Finally, since the reports are collected in one location, it makes it a little easier for administrative staff in the Chancellor’s office to keep track of who has submitted a report and who has not.

State-Wide General Education Reform Feedback

Feedback Board

AC: The project was to collect input from various stakeholders around the state, including college and university administrators, teachers/faculty, students, and citizens of New Mexico regarding state higher education reform of the general education curriculum.

Need a way to display feedback from your students, staff, or customers? You can easily build a feedback system with GravityView.

Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program

Apprenticeship / Researcher Program
AC: I was approached by a faculty member who wanted to put together a program he had seen at another university. The program promotes involvement of undergraduate students in research that the faculty at NMSU are currently conducting.

The challenge was to put together a couple of forms for both faculty/researchers to sign up to participate and for students to sign up to work on the research project so that faculty and staff could review potential opportunities for collaboration. Due to the nature of the data, we needed to protect the privacy of students so we require authentication to see the student list. However, you can see Faculty List and list of research projects without logging on.

The challenge was to put together a couple of forms…so that faculty and staff could review potential opportunities for collaboration.…This program has great potential and GravityView has helped us to mobilize a tool quickly to make it possible.

This is the end of the first year of this program and we’ve seen good interest from faculty and several projects have been listed. The best part is that it costs nothing to do (from an institutional perspective). We’ve just provided the mechanism for students to get together with faculty so that they can gain first-hand experience working in labs and conducting other research, and that’s real research too, this is not a class. This program has great potential and GravityView has helped us to mobilize a tool quickly to make it possible.

With GravityView, you can easily connect students with researchers for projects. Read our walkthrough guide to building your own application.

Domenici Institute

Domenici Conference Presentations Database

Note: this project is still under construction and will be live soon. Stay tuned!

AC: New Mexico State University is home to the Domenici Institute. Following Senator Domenici’s retirement from the U.S. Senate in 2008, the Pete V. Domenici Institute for Public Policy (Domenici Institute) was established on the main campus of NMSU with the goal of continuing Senator Domenici’s legacy of service. The Domenici Institute provides community engagement activities that serve to enhance the understanding of regional and national public policy issues. As part of that effort, the institute hosts a public policy conference and several policy forums each year. The annual Domenici Public Policy Conference is a significant, regional event with more than 1,000 attendees from New Mexico and parts of Arizona and Texas.

There was an untapped potential to organize and distribute content from the past Domenici Conferences (which is now in its 10th year) to serve the greater public good and support efforts of our student programs, such as the Domenici Student Scholars Program. Part of the challenge was to create a sustainable solution to be managed by Domenici Institute staff, that would be searchable and easy to maintain and expand. Using GravityView, we created a searchable database of past conference presentations, which include brief bios about the presenters, and link to the recorded Webcast of the session, and the basic title and topic of the presentation.

This is the first project where I used the DIY layout tool, and I’m very happy with the outcome.


We hope this case study gives you a few ideas on how to use GravityView yourself! If you also work at a university and are interested in using GravityView, click the button below to read more:

Are you interested in doing a case study with your GravityView project? Let us know on the Contact page or ping us on Twitter!

Creating a feedback board

Creating a feedback board with Gravity Forms and GravityView

On our blog, we recently featured a case study of one of our users, Adam Cavotta, who is a Senior University Training Specialist at New Mexico State University. NMSU uses GravityView in nearly 10 different ways. In this ongoing blog series, we’ll teach you how to create similar applications for yourself.

Want to read more about using GravityView at universities, schools, and other educational institutions? Check out our guide.


In this post, we’ll create a feedback board. Whether you’re a university, college, nonprofit organization, or other organization, you’ll likely find this guide useful.

Our final application will look like this:

Image of the final product, a feedback form

…and it will have the following functionality:

  • Allows readers to submit feedback on a variety of issues and topics
  • Allows administrators to comment on these issues and email the comment directly to the submitter

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Create your form

First, we’ll need to create a form. To do this, go to Forms > New Form on your WordPress sidebar.

The WordPress Dashboard sidebar menu. The Forms menu is selected, and New Form is clicked.

Name your form “Feedback Submission Form.”

Gravity Forms' "Create a New Form" dialog, with "Feedback Submission Form" entered into the "Form Title" field.

Tip: Already have a directory file of students? Not to worry. Importing it into Gravity Forms and GravityView is super simple with our Import Entries plugin. You can import large CSV files quickly.

Now, we need to add some fields to our form. We want to get the following information from our readers:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Topic: What is the feedback / idea about?
  • Feedback explanation

Tip: Want to make sure all of your fields are filled out? Enable “Required” in the settings of each field.

Required checkbox.

For Name, we can use the Name field, which is under Advanced Fields.

Field - Name

For Email, we can use the Email field, which is also under Advanced Fields.

Field - Email

For Topic, we have a few options, depending on our particular needs.

  • A Checkbox field will allow the user to select multiple topics. For example, their feedback might be about both Housing and Financial Aid.
  • A Radio Button field will only let a user select one topic. This is useful if you want to categorize submissions into very narrow groups. This field also allows you to enable the “Other” choice, which lets users fill in their own answer.
  • A simple Single Line Text field is the simplest option. However, it won’t let you categorize or filter your entries via this field.

For this entry, let’s go with the Radio Button field. After you add the field, don’t forget to input a description and the answer options.

Field - Topic (Radio Buttons)

We’ll also enable the “Other choice” option. This will let users write in a separate option themselves.

Enable other choice

Tip: To move the Description above the choices, go to the Appearance tab and edit the Description Placement option.

Description Placement under the Advanced tab

Finally, for the Feedback field, we want to use a Paragraph Text field. Be sure to rename it. If you want to make the field larger or smaller, you can do so on the Appearance tab.

Feedback, a paragraph text field.

Once you’re done creating your form, press the Update button in the bottom right of the screen to save it.

Now that our form is finished, let’s add it to a page. Create a new WordPress page and click the Add Form button.

Add Form button, beneath the title bar.

Save and view your page:

Preview of Feedback Submission Form

Looks good! If you want to change the post-submission message, you can do that on the Settings page of your form, on the Confirmations tab.

Now let’s move on to the next step: Creating a View.

Step 2: Creating a View

Note: For this part, we’ll assume that many feedback entries have already been submitted.

A View will let us display our feedback directly on the front end of the website, without having to log into the back end. In other words, it will let us display our feedback entries on a public web page.

To create a View, first go to Views > New View on your WordPress sidebar.

WordPress sidebar, the New View option, which is under the heading Views, is selected.

Title your View “Feedback Board” and select the form we created (“Feedback Submission Form”) as the data source.

Feedback Board Title bar

Now, we need to pick a layout. There are a few options, depending on the type of feedback board we want to create.

  • We can use a Table View layout, which will display an overview of the submitted feedback on one page. However, we’ll have to click on each feedback entry in order to read the full description.
  • Alternatively, we could use a Listing View layout, which will display all of entries’ fields at one time, on a single page.

Since we only have a few fields, it makes the most sense to use a Listing View layout. We’ll actually design our View to display everything on a single page – that is, the multiple entries page.

Listing View layout

Now we’re on the View Configuration page. At the top, we can add some widgets to our Multiple Entries View context. Let’s add a Custom Content widget to the top and a Search Bar to the left.

Widgets Above Entry Fields

To edit the Custom Content widget, click the blue gear icon next to it. Let’s write a brief message about the purpose of this page. Replace “form.html” in this example with a link to a page containing your form. We can also add a button to our form submission page using HTML. You can style this HTML using CSS. Read more about using CSS in GravityView here.

Custom Content widget

Finally, let’s also rename the Search Bar label to “Search Feedback”. To do this, click the blue gear icon again and rename the label.

Search Label options

Now, scroll down to the Below Entries Widgets section. Add a Show Pagination Info widget to the left and a Page Links widget to the right.

Below Widgets settings

Now let’s add the entry fields themselves. Scroll back up to the Entries Fields section. This will be the main part of our entry.

  • For Listing Title, add the Topic field. This will display what topic this feedback is about.
  • For Subheading, add the Name field . Only add this field if you want the submitter’s name to be publicly visible. If you don’t want their name to be visible, leave this blank.
  • For Other Fields, add the Entry Date field and the Feedback field. This is where the feedback message will be displayed.
  • Under Footer Left, add the Entry Notes field. We’ll use this field as a place where administrators can comment on the feedback. Ergo, we’ll rename it Response(s) from Administration.

Tip: Hiding the label often makes the View look better. To do this, simply uncheck the Show Label box in the field’s settings panel. Let’s repeat this and hide the labels for each of the fields in our View except for Response(s) from Administration.

Show Label checkbox setting

Here’s what our Entries Fields section looks like now:

Entries Fields settings

Now let’s save and preview it.

Feedback Form

Looking good! As you can see, our entire feedback board is on one page – we didn’t need to configure a single-entry View, because we don’t need to use it.

Add the View to a Page

Finally, we just need to add the View to a page. To do this, create a new WordPress page and click the Add View button.

Add View

Leaving Comments

Since we added an Entry Notes field (Response(s) from Administration), we can add comments and responses to our submitted feedback.

Response field

You can also send a copy of the note directly to the submitter’s email. This is useful if you want to notify the submitter that you’ve read their feedback.

By default, Entry Notes will only be visible by administrators. If you want these notes to be displayed publicly, you need to enable Display notes to users who are not logged-in? in the field’s settings panel.

Enable View Comments

Your comments will then be publicly visible.

View Comments


And that’s how to create a feedback system similar to New Mexico State University’s.


Have you built a similar application with GravityView? Want to learn how to configure a different layout? Let us know!

Connecting researchers with students for research projects

Connecting researchers with students for research projects

On our blog, we recently featured a case study of one of our users, Adam Cavotta, who is a Senior University Training Specialist at New Mexico State University. NMSU uses GravityView in nearly 10 different ways. In this ongoing blog series, we’ll teach you how to create similar applications for yourself.

Want to read more about using GravityView at universities, schools, and other educational institutions? Check out our guide.


In this post, we’ll create a searchable database for research projects. Our final product will look like this:

Research Database final product

Our research projects database will have the following functionality:

  • Allow professors and researchers to post and continually update research projects
  • Allow students to browse and search through research projects

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Create a Form

First, you’ll need to create a form in Gravity Forms. To do this, go to Forms > New Form on your WordPress sidebar.

New Form

Name the form “Submit a New Research Project.” This form will allow professors and researchers to submit their projects to the database.

New Form Name

Now we need to add some fields to our form. We want each research project to have the following fields:

  • Project Name
  • Faculty Member
  • Keywords
  • Department
  • Description
  • Number of Students Sought
  • Number of Students Already Selected
  • Link to Application Page

Let’s go through and create a field for each one. To add a field to the form, click on it or drag it to the left into your form.

For Project Name, we’ll use a Single Line Text field. Be sure to rename it. You can also limit the field to a certain number of maximum characters.

Project Name

For Faculty Member, we’ll use the Name field, which is under Advanced Fields. We could also just use a Single Line Text field – it depends on your particular needs.

Don’t forget to rename the Name field to “Faculty Member”. You can also add a description.

Faculty Member field

For Keywords, we have a few options. The simplest solution is to use a Paragraph Text field, which will let users type in any relevant keywords. You can also use a List field, which will allow you to keep each keyword separate.

For this example, we’ll stick with the standard Paragraph Text field.

Keywords field

Want to make the text input box smaller? Click on the Appearance tab in the field settings and change the Field Size option.

Text Field Size

For the Department field, we want to use one of the following:

  • A Radio Button field, if a project can only belong to one department
  • A Dropdown if a project can only belong to one department + we want to keep our form as compact as possible
  • A Checkbox field, if a project can belong to more than one department.

We’ll go with a Dropdown for this example. Once you add the field, don’t forget to add your choices.

Department field

For Description, we want to use a Paragraph Text field field again.

Description

For Number of Students Sought, we’ll use the Number field. If you anticipate researchers having projects with a non-specific number of students sought (e.g. 5-10, “as many as possible”, etc.) then you can also use a Single Line Text field.

Number of Students Sought

For Number of Students Already Selected, we can also use a Number field. This field will be useful for researchers to update on a regular basis (more on how to do that later!)

Number of Students Already Selected

Finally, for the Link to Application page, we can use the Advanced Field, Website. Don’t forget to rename it.

Link to Application field

We’ll have another guide coming soon on how to create this application page. For now, check out our Job Applicant Management System post – it is a fairly similar process.

Now that we’ve created our form, let’s put it on a page. Press Update and then create a new WordPress post. Under the title bar, click Add Form and select the form we created.

Add Form

Then save and view the page.

Form

Everything looks good! Let’s move on to the next step: Creating a View.

Part 2: Creating a View

Note: For this part, we’ll assume that you’ve added a number of research projects to your form already. Already have a file of research projects and want to import it? Not a problem. Check out our Import Entries plugin.

Now that we have a form, we need to create a View. A View will let us display and modify this information on the front end of our WordPress website. To do this, go to Views > New View on your WordPress sidebar.

Title your View “Browse Research Projects” and select the form we previously created (“Submit a Research Project”) as your Data Source.

Data Source

Now we need to chose a View layout. For this project, we want to use a Table layout. This will display our research projects in a table (that looks like a spreadsheet).

View Type

Now we are on the View Configuration page. We’ll start by customizing the Multiple Entries page. This is the “default” page that visitors will see upon navigating to our view.

At the top, we can add some widgets. Let’s add the Search Bar widget to the top.

Widgets

To edit the settings of a widget, click the blue gear icon next to it. If you scroll down, we can also add widgets at the bottom, below the Entry fields. Let’s add Show Pagination Info and Page Links here.

Below Entries Widgets

Now, let’s add the entry fields themselves. To add a field, simply click +Add Field. Then, select the field you want to add.

Since our Multiple Entries page displays many entries at one time, we should only add a handful of entry fields. Let’s add the following:

  • Project Name
  • Keywords
  • Department

Entry Fields

To edit the settings of a field, click the blue gear icon next to it. We want to link the Project Name field on the Multiple Entries page to its more detailed entry (called “the Single Entry page.”)

To do this, click the blue gear icon next to Project Name. Then, check the box next to Link to single entry.

Link to Single Entry

Now let’s publish our View and see what it looks like. Click Publish then View on website.

View

Everything looks pretty good! If we click on a project name, we’ll be taken to the Single Entry page. We haven’t set this up yet, so let’s do it now.

Single Entry

The Single Entry page is the “more detailed” page for our entry. Since it is a single page that covers only one entry, we have more space for adding fields.

To add a field, click +Add Field. Be sure to add all of the fields we created.

Entry Fields

Now save your View and preview it again. Click on a Project Name field and you’ll see the Single Entry view.

Single Entry

As you can see, all of our fields are listed. Everything looks good!

View Settings

Finally, at the bottom of the View Configuration page are View Settings. There are a number of options here, but two in particular are relevant for our research projects database.

Allow User Edit + Allow User Delete

Edit and Delete

If enabled, Allow User Edit and Allow User Delete (which are under View Settings) allow users to edit or delete their entries after they have submitted them.

The Edit functionality is particularly useful for our Number of Students Already Selected field, as it will allow researchers to conitnually update how many more students they need for their project.

Sort by Field

Sort by Date

By default, all entries on the Multiple Entries page will be sorted by the date they are created. However, if you want to organize and filter the research studies by a different field, like Department or Faculty Member, you can do that here.


And that about wraps up our guide to creating a research study database with Gravity Forms and GravityView!

In an upcoming guide, we’ll walk through creating the other half of this project – a form and View for students applying to research projects.