ARForms WordPress form builder plugin is a popular solution for building a range of fully responsive forms: a basic WordPress contact form, a workshop registration form, surveys, a job application form, and many more plain and complex types of forms.
ARForms plugin has been around successfully for more than 4 years now. During this time, it garnered positive feedback from WordPress users; a 5-star rating is a sound proof of this fact. Reputeinfosystems, the plugin creators, pushed out some nice updates within the latest version 3 making the plugin markedly more holistic and feature-rich. Now, this plugin is a kind of a Swiss knife toolkit among WordPress form plugins as it comes with loads of built-in features like pop-up functionality, advanced spam protection, email marketing services integration and more.
Having several good alternatives on the market, can we consider a refined ARForms plugin one of the best WordPress form builders? Let’s go into the review essentials and see.
A Working Area – the UX and UI
ARForms comes with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface.
You’ll feel that it’s made with not tech-savvy people in mind right when you start creating your first form and meet the builder face-to-face. You see all your settings on a single screen and don’t need to go back and forth to make a simple edit.
The new UI is extremely well thought-out and polished; you have quick access to everything: all the form elements are at hand from the left (this bar can be hidden for destruction-free form building), style builder from right, and all additional tools are on top.
Out-of-the-box responsive layouts
You won’t need to make any tweaks to get your forms delivered to any viewport with a proper responsive layout. For example, you can set the needed form width in clicks or use handy built-in device emulators to quickly check out your form on viewports of different sizes: PC, mobile, and tablet.
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I decided to go an extra mile and checked my test form on a live website using external web emulators (snobby, I know). The result was the same; I got a perfectly aligned contact form on a mobile device:
Even more sensitive pop-up forms are fully responsive and look great on all devices.
With such a cool plugin UI, you’ll unlikely need a lot of time to figure out which button to click. Moreover, you edit the form in real time, drag the form elements around, so all your changes are instantly visible – it significantly speeds up the customization process. You learn how to use the plugin in a matter of minutes.
Pre-made Form Templates
When you start, the plugin offers you a range of most commonly used pre-designed form templates. Want to build a relatively simple WordPress contact form or a survey? No need to start from scratch, choose a pre-made template and customize it much quicker.
For now, you may choose from a job application form template, a subscription form, a member login form and many more. Take a look:
For example, if you provide design or SEO services and need to create an order service form, you may start with a template and then only add extra fields/customize pre-designed ones. The templates will do you a tremendous time-saving favor.
You are offered up to 25 various form elements (customizable fields), including checkboxes, radio buttons, dropdowns, file upload buttons, image URLs, a star rating, etc.
You add them quickly with a click or drag & drop. Then you may proceed with individual element settings, which are applied in a live editor: update labels, choose column layout, mark a field as mandatory, duplicate it for further usage, drag over to a different position, and apply custom field settings.
ARForms also offers a great way to deal with one of the biggest “headaches” of forms – columns. With the latest plugin version, you can resize field columns using draggable borders and get perfect alignment with your custom proportions. It works wonders, look:
It’s as simple as editing a page with a drag-and-drop WordPress page builder.
Let’s take a closer look at individual settings of any of the form elements.
For example, editing a standard “email” option, you can add a field description, tooltip message (which is perfect for improving user experience), set a field size or add a placeholder text, specify a default value and configure a couple of validation settings:
One of the most useful elements I’d like to highlight is the “Page Break” element. It lets you design multi-step forms by breaking up long forms over multiple steps. This will ensure your long forms don’t scare people away, providing them with a right “comfort zone” and significantly increasing your submission rate.
For example, if you’re a marketer and need a long / mid-long form to collect lead emails, multi-page one will help you boost the conversion rate. I can’t look at the endless form fields without sarcasm, do you? So I’m sure this is a really useful functionality (and marketing feature) of this WordPress form builder plugin.
Another cool option of the updated plugin is the ability to use images instead of text for radio buttons and checkboxes. It can be perfect for creating different quizzes, workshop registration or whatever. I know people often ask for this feature.
For more customization options, let’s head over to styling.
Styling the Forms
I think I won’t exaggerate saying that ARFroms comes with one of the most full-blown form style builders I’ve seen. Very often such functionality in similar plugins is either too complex and requires you to be comfortable with CSS or, on the contrary, too limited. But in the case with ARForms, every piece of your form is under your styling control.
Okay, let’s back my claim and see what styling options you can use to smarten up your forms:
- Basic options, where you are free to choose an input style (standard, rounded or material) for your form, a pre-set color scheme to match your website branding, use a library of Google fonts, set an input field size, style and position for validation messages (validation is done independently for all individual fields).
- Advanced form options allow you to adjust alignment and margins for form titles and descriptions, set form alignments and paddings, customize form borders and window opacity and even upload a background image.
- Input field options are responsible for labels positions, alignment and width; alignment and font size for the input field description; input field options like width, text direction (with RTL support, by the way); field transparency, checkbox style and more.
- Submit button settings let you make your form button a maximum fit into a website color scheme and design feel.
- Custom CSS is also there if you need to add any.
As you see, the plugin is packed with almost unlimited options for making your WordPress form look and work just the way you want – change colors, fonts, sizes, padding, styles, anything.
On the backend, the editing process is quite smooth; all the edits are applied without delays. If you are building any type of a form for your own needs, you won’t need any tech knowledge. However, if you are a developer building website for a client, you’ll enjoy the CSS flexibility.
Conditional and math logic
Conditional logic enables your form to show or hide new fields based on the previously submitted ones.
Let’s say you’re offering different pricing plans depending on the product/service chosen. It means you need to include different extra fields depending on customer’s choice. For make it happen, you add appropriate conditional rules and let your forms process different scenarios for different actions.
If you need to apply some math logic for your forms, this is also doable: the form can handle automatic calculations based on user’s actions. This can be a combo of math and conditional logic.
It’s worth mentioning that setting conditional logic is free within ARForms plugin, while this feature is not included by default in several other form builders – instead, they sell this individual option for one website at a crazy fee.
Another simple yet great cog in the plugin is the built-in pop-up functionality. It allows you to add different pop-up types and set them to appear in the way you want – standard, sticky, and fly-in pop-ups. You can even add one to the navigation menu with a shortcode, which is something you’ll unlikely be able to do with the majority of other similar plugins.
With several pop-up target triggers available, you’ll be able to make a big difference to the user experience depending on your aims:
- Very successful time-delay triggers
- Popular exit-intent triggers
- Auto-open triggers on a page load
- Click-to-open triggers
- Scroll triggers
- Sidebar triggers.
If you need to build a plain newsletter subscription box, a lead-magnet pop-up or more advanced forms and make them appear in a more dynamic way, you won’t need to look for extra pop-up WordPress plugins. Moreover, you can easily combine those triggers to create a better pop-up experience. This is awesome – you save money and forget about the stress of waiting for updates from many plugin providers.
Form submission actions
So what happens after the form is submitted? Again, your options are great: upon submission, you can either display a successful submission message to the visitor, redirect them to an external URL or display content of another page. Apart from that, you can apply conditional logic rules to after-submission screens.
One more unique feature is, you can put Arforms modal window shortcode in WordPress menu item. So, when the user clicks on any navigation menu item, it can open modal forms for you. Isn’t it big time-saving feature??
What’s also great, the plugin offers an extra security layer to prevent spam: a duplicate form entry control feature that you can configure according to your needs. No hooks or tech help is required, apply your settings right from your form creating screen:
On the user’s side, form data is auto-saved incrementally. You can enable this option to allow users to save their progress. That is, if a user abandons it without submitting and gets back to the form in some time, it comes with their pre-filled data. Serve good emotions to your visitors!
Handling form entries
It’s easy to keep track of all submissions: in addition to submission content and dates, the form saves country and browser data. The admin search is also optimized as you may filter all entries by dates and forms. The entries support CSV export so you can easily transfer your submissions. Thanks to visualized statistic charts, you can generate detailed analytics reports with a number of entries and view info for a certain period. As for handling saved form entries, you can not only view them but also modify if needed.
Connect the form to the popular email marketing services
If you already use any favorite email marketing automation service like MailChimp, ARForms helps you get it seamlessly connected with your website forms.
For now, you are free to set up MailChimp, Aweber, Icontact, Constant Contact, GetResponse, Madmimi, Ebizac.com, and GVO. Subscribing people to your lists with the available opt-integration options won’t cost you a dime, the feature is included for free.
Add tracking script
As a user of Google Analytics, you might be interested in bringing even more value into your data-driven marketing by tracking form submissions. ARForms plugin allows you to simply copy/paste the submission tracking script and track the users of your forms.
You can set up the email notifications and customize their content using a list of handy macros.
You’ve got good automation here!
The plugin offers a diversity of extra addons to further enhance your forms. These are primarily paid addons so that you may get only those you need to construct a fully functional form.
By far the most user-friendly and solid CAPTCHA by Google, reCAPTCHA addon, is offered free of charge within ARForms. It protects you from spam with the latest anti-spam mechanism created by Google. At the same time, your users don’t need to solve a CAPTCHA, which guarantees a hugely streamlined user experience.
Among most commonly used paid addons are payments with PayPal, User Signup, PDF Creator, Stripe, SMS notifications, Post Creator and up to 9 more addons. Check the full list to see whether there is something for you.
I’d love to see more plugins to include an out-of-the-box toolkit of features into a base price/plan, while selling only extra specific tools as premium addons, just like ARForms plugin does. Bottom line: I like that using ARForms you don’t pay for features you’ll never use.
Let’s take a quick look at the global settings. In addition to standard email settings, you are able:
- To apply a form submission method (process them via Ajax without page reloading or standard)
- Optionally enable loading JS & CSS on all pages if you have any issues with your theme
- Connect preferable email marketing services with your forms.
Everything’s pretty well structured and clear. So if you are done with the actual form, the settings will unlikely take much of your time.
Testing the Waters with Gutenberg
As you probably know, the WordPress standard TinyMCE editor will soon be replaced with the new Gutenberg editor, which is going to be included into the WordPress core. We all (WordPress users and developers) should get prepared as this is one of the biggest transformations of the WordPress editing experience since the platform launched. Many WordPress developers are already trying to figure out how to make their products block-wise to be compatible with the WordPress future called Gutenberg.
Long story short, I decided to quickly test how good the ARForms plugin befriends with the current Gutenberg version 2.2.0. The central question is: will ARForms shortcodes work with the Gutenberg native blocks? Gutenberg doesn’t support shortcode generators but uses a “shortcode” block instead.
There are several ways you can add ARForms shortcodes:
- Copy-Paste automatically generated shortcodes into the page/post. Using “shortcode” Gutenberg block, you can easily get your form live. It works pretty seamlessly at the moment for standard forms as well as pop-ups.
- adding forms to posts and pages with shortcode generator, which allows you to configure form appearance within a user-friendly interface in TinyMCE (for pop-ups you can even apply animation effects, set custom width, click types and more).
But Gutenberg doesn’t support shortcode generator, so you can add either add your forms using the first option (limited settings for pop-ups), or go with the Classic editor mode (enables TinyMCE) to add your forms using ARForms shortcode generator.
The verdict? Even now, when Gutenberg is not an official editor yet, and ARForms hasn’t undergone Gutenberg adaptation, ARForms plugin shows a great compatibility potential allowing you to create and publish your shortcode powered forms using native Gutenberg blocks.
Performance Stress Testing
I’ve created a test form containing about 120 fields, and it was loaded in a matter of 1-2 sec (primed cache). This means good news for an SEO of your website! But bare in mind that performance results may vary depending on your hosting server and a particular website/contact form. In my case, a huge form loaded in the blink of an eye.
The Main Pros and Cons of ARForms WordPress Plugin
Not a fan of long reads? As the plugin is incredibly feature-rich, I decided to put the main pros and cons in a more visualized pros & cons way so that you can skim it and find answers to your specific questions.
- One of the most feature-rich WordPress form plugins on the market, which offers an ultimate toolkit without extra charges
- Extremely user-friendly UI for non-tech people
- Flexible and customizable on all levels: design, content, layout, contact form logic, etc.
- Good level of automation: duplicate field option, pre-made templates, macros for email notifications, pre-set color schemes to speed up the customization process, etc.
- A full-blown style builder to design branded forms, including standard, rounded and trendy material designs
- Support for multi-page forms for long forms
- Built-in pop-up form functionality with a variety of types (and multiple triggers) with out-of-the-box responsive layouts
- Flexible mathematical and conditional logic of contact forms
- Stats on form entries visualized in handy charts with the ability to import/export and edit the entries
- The plugin comes with a feature to save form progress automatically
- Built-in email marketing services you can connect your forms to for free
- Out-of-the-box compatibility with the WPBakery plugin (former Visual Composer) and Cornerstone WordPress Page Builder
- The admin tools in your language: the plugin supports 12 languages, including RTL writing system
- WPML compatibility to make your forms available in several languages
- Extensive addons
- Free demo to test the plugin on the backend – give it a try, it’s risk-free and doesn’t require registration
- ARForms shows a great Gutenberg compatibility potential, so it’s a pretty forward-looking solution
- Technically intelligent: fast-loading and lightweight (the conclusion is based on stress testing observations); the plugin uses a better way to handle JS/CSS by loading them only on pages where the form shortcode is placed; better spam protection thanks to reCaptcha and prevention from duplicate form entries
- Complete API documentation for developers, so you may easily customize the plugin to meet the needs of your clients.
- Preview button shows your form in the pop-up, not the actual website page
- No undo/redo option
- It doesn’t offer a free version (but you can use the demo to see it in the wild)
- If you close your form editor and forget to save the changes, you may lose the form as no window closing confirmation alert is provided.
As you might sum up, the benefits easily outweigh the negatives. I think there is much more untapped potential in the plugin, which you can discover for your particular purposes.
I’m impressed with what the ARForms plugin can do. It’s a solid thing that took all the stress out of creating WordPress forms of any scale thanks to an ultimate customization toolkit.
Suffice to say, for beginners the plugin is a joy to work with – you are not forced to refer to docs all the time, the UI is highly intuitive. It also offers by far the easiest experience when it comes to having full control over a form design and content. A good looking and functional form is a must to maximize the user engagement and a form submission rate on your WordPress website. As you see, ARForms form builder is deploying multiple options to achieve the best result in a variety of scenarios, so it’s a better way to create and handle WordPress forms.
We hope that this ultimate (for now, of course) review of the ARForms plugin will help you uncover its main benefits and decide whether it’s a right solution for you.
Any questions or ideas? The comments section is yours!