Last week, I wrote about how I finally uninstalled Jetpack from WordPress. The plugin was too large, had constant updates, utilized external services, and was generally getting too unwieldy. I made the case that it was better to have smaller, specialized plugins instead of a single large one. It helps with site stability by removing single points of failure, and specialized plugins tend to be more robust, since that’s their only job. However, yesterday I had to find a good replacement for Jetpack’s contact form. It wasn’t easy – my perfect contact form plugin had to have just two key features:
- Store the messages in the database
- Send me an e-mail
Why Store Your Submitted Messages?
The WordPress e-mail system is notoriously unreliable. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not exactly WordPress’s fault, though. It relies on the “PHPMailer” class to send e-mail. It also depends on your host, and some might have delays in delivering the mail, or not sending it at all. To make matters worse, the e-mail isn’t from an authenticated address, so you’ll get a big message from G-mail showing you that it might be spam, like this:
I had to create a filter to ensure that I always receive these messages, and that they’re not delivered to junk mail.
In light of the fact that e-mail delivery is unreliable, I need a way to see all my submitted messages from the dashboard in WordPress.
No “Contact Form 7” and No “WPForms”
When I started my search for a replacement contact form, I obviously took a look at the biggest name in the business – “Contact Form 7”. I’ve been hearing about this plugin for years, and even used it some time ago – I don’t remember where.
In any case, setting it up and creating my first form was easy. The problem however, is that Contact Form 7 doesn’t store your submitted messages anywhere in the dashboard. There’s an add-on plugin called “Flamingo” that you need to download and install just to store the messages! I wasn’t keen on this idea. I don’t want to have to manage yet another plugin just for the specific purpose of storing Contact Form 7 data.
Another plugin I looked at was WPForms. It seemed perfect and was easy to setup. Unfortunately, the ability to store the messages and display them on the dashboard was restricted to the pro version. I have nothing against purchasing software of course – I use paid plugins myself – but my needs are not complex. I don’t require a sophisticated form submission plugin. Only something that allows visitors to send me a message and show them to me in the dashboard. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
The Solution: Ninja Forms
I finally found a free contact forms plugin that I’ve heard about before, but never used. It’s called Ninja Forms, and it gives me everything I need. A simple form builder to create a contact form, and a basic delivery system using PHPMailer (that might or might not arrive on time). But most importantly, it allows me to see my submitted messages in the dashboard as shown here:
So if in the worst-case scenario, my mail doesn’t arrive for whatever reason, I can always find it in the “Submissions” section of the Ninja Forms dashboard tool. This gives me peace of mind since I don’t have to worry about missing an important message. I don’t know why such basic functionality has to require either a new plugin, or a premium subscription, but I’m glad that Ninja Forms gives me what I’m looking for!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!