If you’ve ever been in the market for a WordPress form builder, you know the challenge of trying to sift through so many options.
But the reality is, there’s just a tiny fraction of WordPress form builders with the feature set, ease-of-use, and support to separate themselves from the pack. Such form builders go far beyond simple contact forms—they offer a variety of functionality and features that meet the needs of many different WordPress users—from solo freelancers to large corporate marketers.
CaptainForm, launched in 2015, is one of the more recent WordPress form builder entries.
It’s the product of 123ContactForm, out of Timisoara, Romania. 123ContactForm is a plugin development company that’s been around for eight years, and has extensive experience building form plugins. They specialize in helping users easily build custom, secure online forms without the need for programming skills.
CaptainForm is a free and premium WordPress form builder with built-in third-party apps and a feature set that allows you to easily create basic and advanced forms from within the WordPress dashboard.
In this review, we’ll take a closer look at its features, explore how to use it, and see what it offers the WordPress community.
CaptainForm’s Main Features
With CaptainForm, you can easily create nearly any form you need for your WordPress site, including contact forms, order forms, registration forms, surveys, quizzes, file upload forms, job application forms, booking forms, contest entry forms, loan application forms, membership application forms, and much more.
CaptainForm provides tools for payment collection, market and lead generation reporting, and management of client forms from one place.
Here’s the main features for CaptainForm:
• Create forms within the WordPress dashboard with a drag and drop interface and no coding
• 30+ customizable form templates (or create your own custom templates)
• Includes forms for small businesses, human resources, event organizers, nonprofits, education, lead generation, and consulting, including:
Volunteer recruitment forms
Event registration forms
Job application forms
Surveys and polls
• Fully customizable forms with over 30 field types to choose from, including:
• Edit field labels, field size, text, field validation, and more
• Set form width, alignment, encoding, text alignment, logo, backgrounds, buttons, error messages, and more
• Supports custom CSS
• Third-party applications built-in (no add-ons required)
• Form payment options (discounts, payment processors, recurring payments, etc.)
• Create complex calculation forms linked to payment gateways
• Security options for your forms and sensitive data (CAPTCHA, SSL encryption, password protection, IP limitation, country filters, submission limits, anti-spam, file visibility, etc.)
• Track form visitors with Google Analytics
• Publish forms in pages, posts, sidebar widgets, themes, or as popups
• Set rules using conditional logic to show/hide fields based on previous responses
• Create autoresponders based on form submissions
• Allow users to edit responses after form submission
• Sort, filter, analyze or export collected data as CSV or PDF files
• Send form data to multiple recipients at once
• Receive form notifications via SMS
• Make forms invisible to search engines
• Allow form users to save entries as drafts to finish later
• Automatic report creation
• Multi-language forms
• Supports WordPress Multisite
• Form submissions are saved on secure servers that are backed up daily and come with SSL encryption
CaptainForm comes with apps (add-ons) that extend functionality.
For example, email apps help transfer form information to your email marketing service for list building. Payment gateway apps allow you to build purchase forms for e-commerce, accept recurring payments, offer coupon codes, and more. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Listed below are the third-party CaptainForm apps.
Customer Relationship Management:
WordPress Users (create WordPress users through form submission)
CaptainForm and E-Commerce
In order to create purchase forms with CaptainForm, you’ll need to invest in the Hero plan, which costs $195 annually.
The Hero plan comes with payment gateways and allows for other e-commerce functionality such as accepting recurring payments and offering coupon codes.
Supported payment gateways include:
Centralized Form Management
One of the newer features for CaptainForm is centralized form management for agencies, freelancers, and anyone else who works with clients to build websites.
This feature allows CaptainForm owners to manage all client forms from their WordPress dashboard. They can even share forms with their clients through the dashboard.
With the ability to edit client forms from the same place—without the need to log in to each client WordPress installation—CaptainForm can dramatically speed up your workflow. You can even duplicate your forms for use with different clients, saving you from having to build them from scratch.
The developers of CaptainForm say that centralized form management works best with their Hero license, because of the unlimited number of websites the plan allows for.
Setting Up and Using CaptainForm
To install and activate CaptainForm:
- In the WordPress admin, go to Plugins… Add New.
For the free version, enter CaptainForm in the Search Plugins field, and hit enter.
Click Install Now for the plugin. Then Activate the plugin.
This will allow you to try out the free version of CaptainForm.
- For much more functionality and features you can upgrade to a higher plan by going to CaptainForm… Change Plan in the WordPress admin menu.
After you purchase a plan and get a license key, enter it into the License Key field and click Activate.
While there are many options and features for building forms with CaptainForm, the general workflow for using the plugin is fairly simple.
Basically, CaptainForm lays out a simple three-step process that looks like this:
Step 1: Edit Form
Step 2: Settings
Step 3: Publish
After installing and activating CaptainForm, go to CaptainForm… New Form, and choose the type of form you’d like to create.
When you decide on which form you like, click on Use Template. Or, you can choose Please Select to make a choice from the dropdown menu next to Other.
All forms can be customized to your liking.
Your form options are:
Blank Form (for total customization)
Contact & Lead Form
Other Form is a dropdown menu with templates for:
After choosing your form type, you’ll begin step one of CaptainForm’s three-step workflow.
Step 1: Edit Forms
Now that you have a form type to begin working with, you can click the Edit Form button to start adding Basic or Advanced Fields to your form.
A. Name your form and add fields to it.
If you click on a field, it will be added to the bottom of the form. If you drag a field over to the form, you can place it anywhere you’d like. Elements can also be dragged and dropped within the form after placement.
B. Within the form, click on a form element to edit it.
C. You can also change the layout of your form by clicking the Show Layout Options button above the form.
Step 2: Settings
Click the Settings button at the top of the page to go to the next step in your form creation. When you click Settings, you’ll see a dropdown menu with the choice to go to one of these areas:
Note: The choices you have here depend on which plan you have for CaptainForm.
Allows you to customize notifications you, and the form submitter, receive through email. Also allows you to enable SMS notification.
In this section are 33 themes you can choose from for the look of your forms. You can duplicate any of the themes to create your own, as well as use custom CSS.
3rd Party Apps
Here you’ll find up to 26 different apps (add-ons) for added features and functionality for your forms. They include apps for customer relationship management, email marketing, file management, project management, event management, help desks, social media, and developer tools.
This section allows you to create payment forms, payment summaries, discounts, set notifications, and choose between payment processors.
Here’s where you can protect your form from spammers. It provides CAPTCHA image protection (including Smart CAPTCHA), IP blocking, password protection, country filters, the ability to limit submissions, and the ability to set visibility for file uploads.
Field Rules allow you to show or hide fields based on form input. Autoresponder Rules let you trigger different autoresponders based on form input. Form Rules allow you do to redirect to different web pages based on form input.
This section allows you to change any form message into another language, and add different languages to a form in order to create a multi-language form. You can also import translations from other forms.
Step 3: Publish
The final stop for creating forms with CaptainForm is to click on the Publish button and choose between the following methods for publishing your form:
You can copy and paste a shortcode of your form into any WordPress post or page.
This allows you to use the CaptainForm widget under Appearance … Widgets, to put your form into a sidebar.
This allows you to paste your form code into any WordPress theme file.
You can trigger a popup of your form based on the click of any text, image, or button in the form. You can also set popups to occur automatically.
My Forms Page
By going to CaptainForm… My Forms, you can manage your forms and see additional information about them.
The blue Active link to the right of the form row allows you to change the online availability of your form. By clicking it, you can be set your form to be:
Active between (certain dates)
Active only for me
Active on certain days of the week
The next three icons (to the right of the Active link), allow for duplicating, renaming, and deleting your form.
And to the far right of the row, you can click the arrow to access these areas:
Go back to the Edit section
Get a preview of your form
Go back to the Settings section
Go back to the Publish section
Where form data is stored. It can be edited, exported, and printed.
CaptainForm automatically creates reports (and generates charts) of your form data. You can also create your own reports.
Video Tutorial: CaptainForm
Support & Documentation
CaptainForm comes with support for all four of their plans, including the free option.
Inbuilt documentation within the plugin dashboard is very thorough and well executed. It includes orange information icons next to various settings, a link to their knowledge base, a link to support (allowing you to write to them), a live chat icon on every page of the plugin when they’re online (otherwise you’ll see an email icon in its place), and an introductory video.
Their live chat and email support is available Monday-Friday, 9 AM-6 PM (GMT +2).
CaptainForm includes three paid plans and one free plan. All plans (including the free Regular plan) include SSL encryption along with email and chat support.
For the paid plans, purchased license keys are valid for one year. Plans come with a 30 day money back guarantee, along with the ability to upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your subscription at any time from within the WordPress dashboard.
Here’s the four plans for CaptainForm:
3 forms and 15 fields
100 MB storage
1 site license
Unlimited forms and fields
500 MB storage
5 native add-ons
3 site licenses
Unlimited forms and fields
2 GB storage
14 native add-ons
Unlimited site licenses
Unlimited forms and fields
10 GB storage
24 native add-ons
Payment integration for e-commerce
WordPress Multisite support
Besides the differences listed here, you can find more detailed differences on their site here.
Conclusions & Recommendations
CaptainForm is an easy and powerful form builder for WordPress, with impressive built-in features and add-ons.
The plugin works through a SaaS business model, where users pay subscriptions for different price plans and features.
Data that is collected by CaptainForm is stored on their cloud-based servers, which may be a pro or a con, depending how you look at it. A positive about this feature is that their servers are highly reliable and secure, are backed up daily on all plans (including the free plan), and come with SSL encryption. And because form submissions aren’t hosted on your own servers, there’s less database interaction and less vulnerability to malicious file uploads for your site.
I was a bit disappointed to find that the integration of payment gateways is only included with the Hero plan, their most expensive plan. I would’ve loved to have seen perhaps a more limited version of their e-commerce capabilities available on lower plans.
On the other hand, I find it refreshing that the people behind CaptainForm provide customer support for every plan, including the free version.
I also like that they offer centralized form management for anyone building websites for clients, allowing you to manage all of the forms you create on customer sites from your own WordPress dashboard.
They also get a big thumbs up for their user interface. While it’s not the most modern looking interface in the world, it’s nicely laid out and easy to use. I especially like how they break down the form creation process into three basic steps.
Finally, the support features within the interface are very well done, as described earlier in this review.
Overall, this is an excellent plugin and one of the more impressive WordPress form builders I’ve used. The developers did a great job of balancing powerful features with ease-of-use, something many developers struggle with.
If you’re someone who only needs basic form options, the free version of CaptainForm will likely do the trick. But if your needs are greater, whether for yourself or your clients, you’ll want to take a look at one of their subscription plans.
The developers of CaptainForm have set up their plans in a way that meet the needs of many different users, from WordPress beginners to web developers and designers. And when your needs grow, they have the plan to grow with you.
If you’d like to find out more about CaptainForm, you can do so here.