Custom forms are yet another way to improve the relevance of calls to action both on the front end – how users view it, and on the back end – to the person it is delivered to. And while many power plugins (such as Gravity Forms) offer easy customization and ready to use widgets, you have little room to enjoy the benefit of such functionality unless you can easily use these variations into custom sidebars, based on the content offered in a given page.

Creating Custom Forms in Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms, our plugin of choice for creating and managing forms across WordPress websites, allows you to create as many forms as you need. Customization is defined based on some or all of the following criteria:
  • Different purpose – contact us, sign up for newsletter, subscribe for a convention – the options are endless
  • Different structure – based on your purpose for a given form, you can and should adjust the proper layout with the right fields
  • Different notification lists – you may choose to have each form destined to a different person in your organization: job applications to HR, leads to marketing and so on
  • Different CSS style – Gravity Forms provides a way to modify a given form’s CSS and by that you can dress it up differently and make it stand out as a call to action
Forms may be inserted into content with a shortcode, or as a drag and drop widget inside any of your theme’s sidebars

Considerations for Placing Custom Forms

Forms should bond with content. To that end, you should have the ability to place them at the right place and not settle due to theme limits and WordPress basic functionality. Were should you put it? if you choose to have it placed somewhere in your content, you may use the shortcode. But sometimes, you will need some texts and graphics to tell your story all the way to the desired call to action – in that case – a form. There are three major questions you should ask yourself as to forms structure and position:
  1. Which pages and posts should include a form? unless you have no reason to place more than one form on your site, you will run into this question. if you have something to offer and want people to show their interest and engage, there will be many cases where a simple form will be the best solution, in addition to comments and other methods.
  2. Inside the page – where should I put it?
  3. What would be the most effective structure of the form – what design, which fields, what’s the best title, should I use description?
Having wondered about the same problems and considerations, we’ve came to appreciate the power of being able to A/B test these forms and base our decisions on data and hard evidence.

 A/B Test Custom Forms and Determine The Best Location

Gravity Forms includes a built in feature which counts views and compares them against submissions in order to show you the conversion rate. This is always an eye opening experience to see how well, or how poor forms performs. Analyzing the cause for that is a must and it should take into account quite a few factors such as the overall design of the page as a call to action, page speed and more. If you want to determine which pages or posts should include the form, clone the form and have it set with a different ID and identical structure. Change any feature as you may and place them into different pages or posts. You may create two different version of a given page and use Power Widgets to place the form widgets on different sidebars – primary and bottom for example – in order to determine the best performing form. Track results with Google Analytics and identify the best performing form, the best location inside the page and the most relevant pieces of your content for the job. You may find In Page Analytics handy, mostly for forms which are located under the fold and find out how many people are scrolling down and clicking links in this part of the page

custom forms

So How Power Widgets Comes to Play?

A shortcode is a great way to apply advanced functionality inside the content area. As mentioned above, Gravity Forms may be embedded either as a shortcode inside the content, or as a widget placed in any widget area your theme has to offer. It has downsides too. Firstly, if you have some people who are authorized to touch your content, it increases the probability for an unintended deletion of such a shortcode. Secondly, its a manual operation. Using widgets where appropriate solves both problems: content is free from the sensitive shortcode, and with Power Widgets you can set the right pattern to include the form (or two, if you are to conduct an A/B test) and bundle it with anything else appropriate into a custom widget area.  

Disclosure

To set the record straight: none of the plugins and services mentioned in our blog or on our website is associated with us. We do not participate in affiliate plans and unless specifically mentioned otherwise, all links are regular links and are not part of any affiliate program. We do like to use examples which are based on our experience and like to highlight noteworthy products and services.