WordPress Web App

How to Build a Powerful WordPress Web App with GravityKit

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There's a lot of power and scope under WordPress' hood. This post looks at how to create a WordPress web app using Gravity Forms and GravityKit.
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You may already know that WordPress is more than just a blogging platform. Its also versatile infrastructure to help you build dynamic web applications! Developers will often use custom code for their WordPress web app, but frameworks can simplify the whole process. WordPress plugins alongside the core platform can mimic a developer framework, so you can develop a WordPress web app and make fast, cheap, and good a reality.

In this post, we’ll show you how to build a WordPress web app using two plugins: Gravity Forms and GravityKit. Let’s begin!

Introducing GravityKit

In short, GravityKit takes the core functionality of the popular and powerful Gravity Forms plugin, and extends it. While Gravity Forms lets you capture data, GravityKit gives you the ability to import, edit, display, and export that data.

The GravityKit logo.

GravityKit’s flagship plugin – GravityView – adds a front-end interface to Gravity Forms that you can customize. This lets you create directories, job boards, and any WordPress web app based around a form. What’s more, other GravityKit plugins integrate with GravityView too, which lets you add further functionality to your WordPress web app and scale as you grow.

How GravityKit Enables You to Build Custom Web Apps with WordPress

A diagram sepicting the GravityView drag-and-drop builder, a map, and a directory

GravityKit’s plugins make it straightforward to fetch Gravity Forms data from your database and build a front-end interface using a drag-and-drop builder. Each plugin in the suite does something different:

  • GravityView lets you display your data using a variety of layouts. You can build directories and other types of dynamic apps while retaining full control.
  • With GravityCharts, you can visualize your data through modern charts and graphs. You can use GravityCharts alongside GravityView to build data dashboards, sales reports, and much more. 
  • GravityExport is how you create custom data reports for downloading and sharing. You’re also able to send data to external storage solutions, such as Dropbox.

By combining different GravityKit plugins, you can create WordPress web apps that fulfill your unique use cases. We’ll get into that aspect later, but first, let’s talk about when you should turn to GravityKit to build an app.

When to Use GravityKit to Build Your WordPress Web App

While Gravity Forms and GravityKit are excellent choices for many situations, they won’t be an ideal solution for every WordPress web app. Of course, your project will dictate whether you use the plugins.

However, there are some clear use cases for the pair, and we’d recommend GravityKit in the following situations:

  • If updates rely on those without much technical knowledge.
  • You want to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or other proof of concept app.
  • If speed is important while your app retains up to a moderate level of complexity.
  • You like the concept of no-code solutions, yet you still want to build a fully-functional WordPress web app.
  • The back end of your app has to be straightforward to navigate.

If you look across the web, you’ll find a lot of sites that tick one or more of these boxes and also use GravityKit. In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at some.

5 Sites That Use GravityKit to Power a WordPress Web App

All of the sites we feature here use Gravity Forms and a combination of GravityKit plugins to build and display a WordPress web app. In fact, one is a visible leader within WordPress, while all are important to their particular niches.

1. Jacksonville Port Authority

The Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) is the number one seaport for container trade in the State of Florida. It’s also one of the top U.S. seaports for auto imports and exports. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without GravityKit’s tools.

A map with markers at various places around the world where JAXPORT offers shipping services

JAXPORT uses GravityKit to power an interactive map that shows markets for cities offering shipping services. This enables potential customers to visualize the extensive reach of JAXPORT’s shipping services. It also provides a way to explore the various cities and destinations it serves.

…I chose to use GravityKit’s GravityView plugin (and related layouts) as a low/no code framework to speed up development and provide added value for our site visitors and customers…

–Jeff Price, Marketing Director at JAXPORT

2. LifterLMS 

Chris Badgett at LifterLMS knows a good plugin when he sees it! LifterLMS is one of the best WordPress e-learning plugins on the market. It empowers users to create, launch, or expand online courses, coaching programs, and private communities.

A website showcase on the LifterLMS website

The Lifter team use GravityKit as the core of its custom showcase page. This features websites that use LifterLMS software day-to-day. Like other showcase pages, this demonstrate the plugin’s versatility and real-world impact.

…GravityView’s front-end editing capabilities and intuitive builder enable our team to easily manage the showcase listings and make changes as needed…

–Chris Badgett, founder of LifterLMS

3. Larry L. Hillblom Foundation

Established in 1996, the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation funds medical research with the goal of treating and curing diabetes and degenerative diseases related to aging.

A Larry L. Hillblom Foundation website homepage

The foundation uses GravityKit to power its grant application management system. This enables both applicants and board members to track, manage, and edit applications through a simple front-end interface. All applications go through an approval process, which uses built-in GravityView approval functionality.

…GravityView has given us the capability to accomplish projects that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Without GravityKit, we wouldn’t have been able to surmount the technical hurdles or maintain profitability…

–Michael Kastler, founder and developer at 43Folders

4. Sensory Safe

Sensory Safe is a non-profit organization that seeks to create a supportive and inclusive community around the need for sensory-friendly children’s events and programming.

The event directory on the Sensory Safe website; it's built with gravityview

The website hosts a database of sensory-safe events around the US. The database uses GravityKit as the central component of its search functionality, with different views available based on date.

5. Wir Machen Wien

Wir Machen Wien is a nonprofit organization operating out of Vienna, Austria. The organization focuses on making the city of Vienna a more climate-friendly and livable city. This is through promoting grassroots, citizen-led initiatives, and giving activists a platform for networking and coordination.

The event showcase on the Wir Machen Wien website.

GravityKit powers several aspects of the website, which includes user profiles, an events page, and a directory for sharing relevant equipment.

…after deciding to use Gravity Forms, it made sense to also use GravityKit, which provides an array of different tools covering a spectrum of functionality for fulfilling different use-cases and needs…

–Angie Weikmann, web designer

How to Build Your WordPress Web App Using Gravity Forms and GravityKit

The best news is that you too can build a WordPress web app using GravityKit. Next, we’ll look at a practical way to create a system that manages, approves, and exports grant applications.

A grant reviewer dashboard as a WordPress web app. There is a search bar at the top and a table of applications below

The first step is to install and activate Gravity Forms and GravityKit. Next, we’ll create a form for submitting grant applications. Using Gravity Forms, drag-and-drop the right fields from the sidebar. Here, also make sure to customize those fields to your liking.

The Gravity Forms visual builder

With a way to submit applications, we can now build a front end interface to let our team to manage and review them. For this, we’ll use GravityView. First, create a new View in GravityView, link it to the form, then select Table as the View type:

The View creation screen in WordPress; there is an arrow pointing to a dropdown field labeled 'Data Source'.

Next, let’s configure the interface using GravityView’s intuitive drag-and-drop builder. Here, choose the fields to show up in the table, then add a link to the Single Entry layout. This is where you’ll be able to view the full application in detail:

The GravityView visual View builder

Next, add a search bar widget to the top of the field ‘stack’, and configure the different search inputs. This will enable your team to filter applications based on various criteria:

The search bar widget settings; there are several search inputs set up here with the option to add others

The final step is to use GravityView’s Edit Entry layout to make specific fields editable from the front end. This will let reviewers update an application’s status without needing access to the WordPress dashboard:

A web page titled 'Edit application status'; there is an editable field below labeled 'Status' and two buttons labeled 'Update', and 'Cancel' respectively.

At this point, the funding application system is complete! From here, you could use other GravityKit plugins and extensions to add further functionality. For instance, you might look to add advanced front-end data filtering, display fields only for certain user roles, add PDF exports for applications, provide bulk import and editing functionality, and much more.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Building WordPress Web Apps

Before we wrap up, let’s serve you some common questions related to building a WordPress web app. Most of these will center around where WordPress fits into the process. If you have any other questions, we’d love to hear them in the comments section at the end of the post.

What Is the Difference Between a Website and a Web App?

The main difference lies in the functionality of each. A website is usually a passive way to provide information such as articles or blog posts. On the other hand, a web app is dynamic and interactive. It lets users perform tasks such as fill out forms, make purchases, or interact with dynamic content.

Yes! WordPress’ plugins, custom post types, and the REST API gives you the tools to build a fully-functional web app to fit your specific requirements. WordPress’s flexibility makes it possible to go beyond just creating traditional websites.

What Is WordPress: a Website, App, Framework, or Something Else?

WordPress is actually a Content Management System (CMS) that you can use to create both websites and web apps. Its versatility lets it handle most use cases, such as simple blogs to complex web applications. Configuring the platform is the key.

Coupling Gravity Forms With GravityKit Is the Ultimate WordPress Web App Builder

WordPress is more versatile than many give it credit for. For example, using both Gravity Forms and GravityKit, you can ape a development framework without the need for coding knowledge.

Being able to add reports, charts, graphs, and more to your customization options can open up a world of design choices that otherwise would not be available. Overall, the GravityKit suite of tools is a chameleon. It’s a great way to build events pages, custom dashboards, user profiles, and much more.

Do you see potential for using Gravity Forms and GravityKit to build a WordPress web app? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Casey Burridge

Marketing Coordinator at GravityKit since 2021, Casey Burridge is an expert on Gravity Forms, WordPress, and marketing.

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