There are many types of form plugins out there, but I want to tell you a little bit about Ninja Forms, which happens to be today’s giveaway. We’ll get into this plugin in just a few, but make sure you sign up for the giveaway because it’s a big one!
Ninja Forms is going to give today’s winner a copy of their Agency plan, which includes every add-on they offer! That is awesome! It’s the plan I have and absolutely love using them.
On this site, you’ll notice that we use Gravity Forms. It may seem a bit odd that we’d use one plugin but offer another. The truth though, is that iThemes has been around so long, that when we started, Gravity Forms was just starting out as well.
So we have a history here and moving all our forms over would be a huge undertaking. Of course there’s the saying, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” We believe that to some degree, especially when it comes to forms. But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about and highlight another form plugin because it meets a different set of criteria for other projects we might use.
Where Ninja Forms Fits
This is probably a bit weird for me to say, but I dislike looking at the WP-Admin screen. More specifically, I don’t like how there are certain plugins that try to fit within the parameters of the screens. Ninja Forms goes against the grain in that regard.
I didn’t start using Ninja Forms when they still were using the same WP-Admin screens as everyone else. I came to Ninja Forms because of a client. I took over a failing project for a new client and their previous developer had started to use Ninja Forms.
I really enjoyed the fact that when they went to version 2, they had done a full redesign of the UI. They even go as far as to hide the WP-Admin we all know when we’re in building a form. I love this idea and I’m seeing more plugins adopt this model.
The UI in Ninja Forms is great for me because they aren’t constrained to the UI pattern that WP-Admin has. This means they are able to let me focus solely on building and interacting with the form.
Is it perfect? No. But it’s pretty darn close. If you haven’t taken a look a Ninja Forms yourself, go download it from the WP.org plugin repo. The core of the plugin is free so you can get a feel for the UI I’m talking about.
Why Ninja Forms?
I was helping my father in-law a couple of years ago, build a simple eCommerce site so he could sell his turkey calls. One thing he really wanted was a way to upload photos to the site that people would send them with his calls and the birds they got with them.
At first, he would send me the pictures via text and then send me the name of the person. It worked, but then I had to remember to go in and upload the images and add the person’s name when I got back to a computer.
When I started getting repeat asks for the pictures to go up I decided to try and see if there was another way to go about this problem. Thankfully there are a couple of extensions (add-on plugins to Ninja Forms) that allowed me to build a form.
File Uploads allowed me to build a form that would add a field to upload a file. It even worked great on iOS devices by allowing us to select a file from his photo library.
Front-End Posting allowed me to take the form and connect it to a custom post type in WordPress. This meant that when you filled out the form, it would add the form data to the CPT.
With a little connecting and protecting the form, I was able to give him (and I) a way to upload the pictures, add a name and have them automatically posted to his site. This saved me from playing middle-man all the time and allowed me to create a home page shortcut on his phone so he could manually update his site.
The funny part in this is that he was more excited to change the content on his site than I’ve ever seen a client. He loved being able to do it himself and not have to ask me (the family tech and engineer) to help him out all the time.
Ninja Forms allowed me to solve this very easily and with minimal effort. It’s one of the reasons I typically alternate between using Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms on projects I do for clients.
Several years ago we ran a 2 or 3 day webinar series on form plugins and how they work. If that’s something you’d like us to consider for 2020 as part of our iThemes Training offering, let us know in the comments!