October 9, 2016 by Datopian
Finding open source software that creates both beautiful and customised contact forms for your website is tricky. Software that allows you to store responses, inform you of new contact requests, enables you to have various forms under one login, allows you to get back to contacts in a click, and, importantly, doesn’t require upgrading to expensive premium subscriptions, is hard to find.
For a long period of time, we used Formspree for our contact forms. For our needs at the time, it was an excellent option; it’s open source and simple in design, directed the clients to a ‘Thank you’ page and it was easy to embed in our website. However, it was unable to archive the submissions (except for in someone’s email box). With that in mind, we began searching for a new provider.
Initially, we started looking into complex Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, like Odoo and Hubspot. They gathered all of our forms and allowed us to keep track of conversations and email directly from the platforms. However, the complexity of the CRM systems were above and beyond our needs, so we began to look for simpler systems.
Typeform proved to be a good option. It had features similar to Formspree, but with the advantage of storing many forms under one login and the conversations. However, the design was limited, featuring a human-like interaction with scroll-down one-at-a-time questions. Moreover, it did not embed in our website nicely, and was branded unless you upgraded to a premium version for €25 a month. This design did not suit the look of our website.
We then tried Formlets and Google forms. Formlets had a nice, plain design and stored responses in an accessible manner on its platform. It also alerted you when new responses came in. Unfortunately, there was only one form per login from the free version, and you could not respond to clients directly from the platform.
Google forms suited most of our needs, but were deficient in two key ways: first, it did not offer adequate space for customisation; second, it did not allow you to directly respond from the platform. In that it allowed responses to be stored in a spreadsheet automatically and allowed you to set up as many forms as you want, we believe it to be one of the best (free) options out there. Google also has the added benefit of brand ubiquity; most of us working remotely or online will already have Google accounts, and it is convenient to store everything under one roof.
We’re still looking for the perfect contact form. Any tips are very much appreciated.
UPDATE: We came across JotForm after this post was published. Is that the ultimate form provider? An open source provider where you can add your logo and personalise the form or chose from templates, get email notification to chosen email (note, from Google forms you can only get notifications to the email you set it up with whereas in our case a Group email would be ideal), and it can be integrated with Google sheets! Free plan offers up to five forms per user. They also have a wide range of widgets that might do the work. A minor minus: Big Jotform branded logo comes in free plan.
|Typeform||Free or Premium €25/month||Free up to 100 responses / month. For respondent notification upgrade to premium|
|Tellform||Free||Open source. Similar look to Typeform|
|Formlets||Free or Business €17/month||One form in Free plan. Up to 10 forms when upgrading to Business|
|Formspree||Free or Gold for €9.99/month||Upgrade for access to submission archives|
|Google Forms||Free||Limited layout|