If you’re looking for the best way to add forms to your WordPress, Ninja Forms is a name you’ll almost certainly come across pretty quickly — if you haven’t already!
Below, we’ll be covering both the free and premium versions — comparing the two in detail, and exploring the various features that each has to offer in an effort to see whether or not the premium version is a product worth paying for!
Before we get to the real meat of the article — whether you should upgrade from the free version to the premium options — it’s worth mentioning the release of Ninja Forms 3. As part of this latest major update, the Ninja Forms user interface has been completely rewritten and redesigned, introducing a new and improved drag-and-drop form builder, more intuitive form settings and controls, upgraded form submission options and actions, plus lots more.
Due to this upgrade, if you’ve not used Ninja Forms for a while now is a great time to reacquaint yourself with this powerful WordPress forms plugin. Furthermore, if you’ve never used Ninja Forms, now is the perfect time to start!
With freemium plugins like Ninja Forms – where the core functionality is available for free and paying more for commercial upgrades unlocks premium features – it’s understandable to be skeptical. Does the free version offer any real value, or is it just there to steer you towards a paid product?
The good news is that if you simply want to add a contact form to your WordPress website, the free version of Ninja Forms is more than capable. Furthermore, the free version of Ninja Forms is capable of a lot more and may well meet all your online form requirements. With Ninja Forms, another benefit of the freemium model is that you can test the user experience before you buy.
To help you decide whether you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version of Ninja Forms, let’s look at what the free Ninja Forms plugin can dot before exploring the features you’ll need to pay to access.
After activating Ninja Forms (Free), a pre-built contact form is added to your WordPress website. This contact form includes the basic fields required by most forms of this type.
By default, form submissions are stored in your WordPress database for easy access through your WordPress Dashboard. Form submissions are also sent to the email address associated with your WordPress user account. We’ll cover the other actions that can be performed after a form submission in the Form Submission Handling section of this Ninja Forms (Free) vs Premium comparison. However, out of the box, the two most useful options are enabled by default.
Thanks to the Add Form button that the plugin adds to the WordPress Editor, inserting forms into your posts and pages is very straightforward.
This ease of use and pre-configured contact form make the free version of Ninja Forms a highly recommended and efficient way to add a contact form to a WordPress website. Moreover, thanks to the features and functionality of Ninja Forms (Free), you can do a lot more with this plugin before you’ll need to upgrade to the premium options.
The free version of Ninja Forms also includes the Quote Request form template. If you use this template, you should have no trouble adding a quote request form to your WordPress website. Alternatively, you could use this template as a starting point for your own custom forms.
The Quote Request template will help you collect all the information you need from prospective clients and customers. This template makes great use of many of the form fields available to users of the free version of the plugin.
We’ll examine the user experience and functionality of the Ninja Forms drag-and-drop form builder soon. Simply put, the form builder makes it very easy to add, remove, and edit the fields of the templates.
The third and final Ninja Forms (Free) template gives you a quick and easy way to add an event registration form to your WordPress website.
Like the other Ninja Forms templates, this one can also be edited through the builder. This template is another great example of what the free version of Ninja Forms can do. However, if you’d like to collect payments from your visitors as part of event registration, you’ll need to purchase one of the Ninja Forms payment-related premium add-ons.
The free version of Ninja Forms includes an impressive selection of form fields that compare well to the most popular free WordPress form plugins.
Thanks to these fields, you can easily use the free version of Ninja Forms to design some fairly advanced forms that can include checkboxes, radio lists, drop-down menus, and date pickers. Adding multi-line paragraph text fields as well as single line text fields is very easy too. The pre-defined user information fields can save you a lot of time if you need to collect address-related information from your website visitors. Simply drag and drop the appropriate options to add fields for city, state, zip, phone, and more.
Although the good selection of form fields can help you create some varied online forms with the free version of Ninja Forms, customizing the appearance of your forms isn’t as easy.
The good news is that depending on your chosen WordPress theme, your forms should take on the basic styling of your theme and blend in with the rest of your website. However, one drawback of the free version of Ninja Forms is that when it comes to creating multi-column forms, using custom layouts, and carrying out other changes to the default layout and styling of your forms, you’re limited in what you can do through the builder interface.
While the online documentation does explain how to create custom row and column form layouts and add custom CSS to your forms, the simplest way to customize your forms is to upgrade and purchase the Layout and Styles extension.
We’ll soon explore the options for upgrading the free version of Ninja Forms to get more control over the appearance of your forms in our Ninja Forms (Free) vs Ninja Forms Premium comparison. However, for now, let’s take a quick look at the improved Ninja Forms 3 drag-and-drop form builder.
As mentioned, the release of Ninja Forms version 3 saw a major update to the form builder user interface. The new and improved form builder brings Ninja Forms in line with modern WordPress forms plugins like WPForms and now features its own intuitive drag-and-drop form builder.
Now, as soon as you hit the Add New Form button, the WordPress Dashboard is replaced with the Ninja Forms builder interface.
At first glance, this replacement of the WordPress Dashboard area could be a little confusing for some due to the temporary disappearance of the WordPress sidebar and admin toolbar and change of interface. However, the Ninja Forms builder has been skillfully designed, resulting in an intuitive user experience. Having the extra screen space really does make creating forms much more efficient, which makes abandoning the WordPress user interface a worthwhile tradeoff.
Whether you choose to use one of the templates or to start with a blank form, you’ll be able to drag and drop fields onto your form and into position.
Clicking on a field displays its setting, giving you the ability to customize how it looks and functions. Although as mentioned, if you want to customize the appearance of your forms and fields through the builder, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium Layouts and Styles add-on (keep reading to find out what you can do with this extension).
We’ll look at the form submission handling capabilities of Ninja Forms (Free) and Premium in more detail next. However, in short, the Emails and Actions section of the builder gives you a quick and easy way to define what happens once a user submits a form.
The Advanced settings section of the form builder allows you to customize how the form is displayed, covering the form title and whether to display it, as well as a few other display-related options. You can also restrict access to the form through the advanced settings, including only making the form available to logged in users – a feature that would be useful if you were using the forms to accept post submissions from registered users – as well as limiting the number of form submissions accepted.
One very useful feature that was added to Ninja Forms 3 is the ability to view the changes that have been made to a form with the option of undoing individual actions.
You can preview your form at any time, giving you a quick way to see how it will look when it’s published on your website.
Once you’re happy with your form, hitting the Publish button will save it. Any instances of that form on your website will be instantly updated with the changes.
As mentioned, by default, Ninja Forms will automatically send form submissions to the email address associated with your WordPress website’s admin user account. This means you don’t have to enter any contact details to get started with Ninja Forms. However, you can also choose to have form submissions delivered to other email addresses. Furthermore, a copy of the submission can be sent to users who have completed a form.
The free version of the plugin will also store form submissions in your WordPress database, making them accessible from your dashboard area.
Having form submissions accessible from within your WordPress Dashboard is a really useful feature that isn’t available with all free WordPress forms plugins. Emails can get lost or deleted, so having a central location where form submissions can be accessed can help you find and recover any missed communications.
You can review the form submissions from the Submissions section of the Ninja Forms area on your WordPress Dashboard. Ninja Forms gives you the ability to filter the submissions by your different forms, making it easier to find the submissions you’re looking for.
As well as having the ability to view and edit form submissions, you can also export them in CSV format. Being able to open multiple form submissions in a spreadsheet app like Excel gives you a convenient way to analyze data from surveys and others forms you’ve created with Ninja Forms.
Once a user has submitted a form entry, Ninja Forms (Free) gives you the ability to either display a confirmation message or direct the user to a specific URL on your website or elsewhere. As you can customize the confirmation message, you could take this opportunity to display links to important pages on your website or to your social media profiles.
There are a number of commercial add-ons available for Ninja Forms that allow other actions to be performed after a form has been submitted. These premium upgrades include:
The above are premium add-ons for Ninja Forms. However, users of the free plugin can still choose which email addresses form submissions are sent to, store form submissions in the WordPress database, display custom submission messages, and redirect users to a custom URL.
As you’ll have noticed, the free version of Ninja Forms is a powerful WordPress forms plugin. In addition to the above features and functionality of Ninja Forms (Free), you can also:
You can view the full list of features and functionality of Ninja Forms (Free) on the plugin page at the WordPress.org directory.
Although you can do a lot with the free version of Ninja Forms, you can do a lot more by upgrading to the premium version of the plugin. There are a number of ways to upgrade including purchasing the add-ons individually or choosing a pre-defined package of add-ons. But is it worth going premium? Let’s find out.
Before we look at the different upgrade options, let’s explore some of the premium add-ons that are available for Ninja Forms.
Available individually for $40 or as part of the Builder Pro pack for $99, the Layout and Styles add-on upgrades the Ninja Forms builder. Giving you more control over the appearance of your forms, the Layout and Styles add-on is ideal for anyone without CSS skills or those who are looking for a way to create custom forms faster.
As well as creating multi-column forms and resizing the form fields, you can also customize the colors and other appearance-related settings of your forms through the drag-and-drop user interface.
You’ll also be able to create default custom styles for all the forms and fields on your website along with the ability to export and import your preferences between websites.
With the $49 Conditional Logic add-on, you’ll be able to show or hide fields and list items based on user input to the other fields of your forms. You can also use conditional logic to send out specific notifications based on user input as well as change field values. This powerful add-on gives you the ability to create interactive forms that adapt to user inputs.
Other notable Ninja Forms Premium add-ons you might want to consider include:
There’s also a selection of email marketing add-ons for popular services like MailChimp, AWeber, and Constant Contact. The payment gateway add-ons give you the ability to collect payments via your forms with PayPal and Stripe.
You can view the full list of Ninja Forms add-ons here.
There are a few different ways to upgrade from the free version of Ninja Forms and get access to the premium features:
All options include one year of access to updates and support with a 50 percent discount on automatic renewals. Purchasing the Personal or Professional plans also gets you a 20 percent or 40 percent discount, respectively, on the price of purchasing additional add-ons.
You can view the full details of the Ninja Forms pricing plans here including the details of the 14-day money back guarantee.
As we near the end of our look at what this plugin can do and the main differences between Ninja Forms (Free) and Ninja Forms Premium one question remains. Should you go premium?
The free version of Ninja Forms comes highly recommended. The pre-built form templates make it very easy to add a nicely formatted quote request or contact form to your WordPress website.
Thanks to the good selection of form fields and the intuitive drag-and-drop page builder, you should be able to create a wide range of forms without upgrading to the premium version of Ninja Forms.
The form submission handling options of the free version are very also impressive. If you need access to the premium features, it’s good to have the option of purchasing add-ons individually as well as through the discounted plans and bundles.
When it comes to the competition, the main alternative to Ninja Forms Premium, in terms of features and reputation, is Gravity Forms (read our in-depth comparison). Both plugins have similar capabilities, although Ninja Forms now has a slicker form builder interface.
The best option for you will depend on your requirements and how much you’re prepared to pay to access them.
However, regardless of the competition, Ninja Forms is without doubt one of the best form plugins for WordPress. Whether you choose the free version or decide to upgrade, you’ll be getting a solid and reliable forms solution that’s easy to use and packed with useful features.
Used/using Ninja Forms free or premium? Thoughts?