Episode 205

How to Use WordPress Form Plugins with Your Learning Management System Website

We discuss how to use WordPress form plugins with your learning management system website in this episode of the LMScast podcast with Chris Badgett and Ali Mathis of the LifterLMS team. Ali and Chris dive into what some of the differences are between the different forms plugins that integrate with LifterLMS, and what you should consider when choosing which one to use.

Previously the only forms plugin LifterLMS could integrate with was Gravity Forms, but there are three new forms integration add-ons for LifterLMS: Formidable Forms, WPForms, and Ninja Forms. Along with these new additions, the Gravity Forms add-on received a major update as well.

How to use WordPress form plugins with your learning management system website

All of the forms plugins do the same things pertaining to LifterLMS, but they do have differences in and of themselves. In addition to purchasing the LifterLMS forms integration add-on, you will need to purchase a license to that form plugin from the company itself. So if you want to use a Gravity Form for your LifterLMS registration page, you would need to purchase a license to Gravity Forms and the Gravity Forms integration from LifterLMS.com.

Using a form for registration is a premium feature of all of the forms plugins, so if you want to use it for that you will have to purchase the premium version of that plugin. You can also add forms to LifterLMS lessons like you can with quizzes and assignments. If you want to survey your students or ask for a testimonial, you could do that with a form within a lesson.

When students submit a form within a lesson, it goes to the media library. The forms can also be found in the reporting for the individual students. So when you are working with a large volume of students it is manageable for the instructors. You can also send forms to someone via email on a per-form basis. If you have a waver you can have it sent to a lawyer, and if you have a survey you can have it sent to the author upon submission.

If you’re interested integrating forms into your online course for custom registration or incorporating them into lessons, you can find them on LifterLMS.com/Store. They are included in the Universe Bundle and Infinity Bundle as well. If you already have an active license to one of these bundles, you can head to LifterLMS.com/My-Account to download the zip files for the add-on plugins.

We have a 30 day money back guarantee at LifterLMS, so if you purchase a forms add-on from LifterLMS and it’s not the right one for you, you can swap it out for a different one or request a refund.

Chris also hosted a webinar to talk about the forms plugins in more detail. If you are interested in finding out more about the forms integrations you can find that webinar here.

Also head to LifterLMS.com to find out more about how you can use LifterLMS to build your own online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes hereSubscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a special guest, Ali Mathis from the LifterLMS team.
Ali Mathis: Hey, Chris.
Chris Badgett: How are you doing?
Ali Mathis: Great, how are you? Happy to be here.
Chris Badgett: Good to have you back. You’re still leading in terms of the most repeat guest. So thanks for coming on the show again.
Ali Mathis: That’s why I keep booking myself.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, cool, we’re really excited. We’ve released these new forms add-ons and wanna do a show to talk about it. And Ali is gonna interview me about it, ’cause forms are one of those things that we all know what a contact form is, but what does it really mean for LMS. So, I’ll hand it over to you to represent the community and try to pull a clear explanation out of Chris.
Ali Mathis: All right, I’ll do my best. Yeah, we’re really excited about the forms add-ons, ’cause forms are a great way, like you said, to power up your course. So, can you start by telling everybody what the three new add-ons are and then a little bit about the update to Gravity Forms, which is the add-on that we already had for forms? And maybe how these new add-ons might be a little different from Gravity Forms.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely. So, the three new form add-ons are Formidable Forms, WP Forms and Ninja Forms. And those are very popular forms in the WordPress ecosystem. And we had, like you mentioned, we also had a major update to our existing LifterLMS Gravity Forms add-on. So, they’re all a little bit different. Some people already have like a form that they’re used to working with, whether that’s Ninja Forms or Gravity Forms or WP Forms. So, it’s really just a question of just go with the one you’re already using. They all do the same features in LifterLMS. But it’s just they have their own little differences in how they work and all the various add-ons they have and stuff like that.
Ali Mathis: So just to clarify in case anybody out there listening doesn’t know. These are add-ons and integrations. So, the user would still need to purchase a license for the corresponding form for the company. So, like if you’re using LifterLMS Gravity Forms, you still need to have a Gravity Forms license as well.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely, you still have to have your own Gravity Forms. In the same way with our MailChimp integration, you still need to have your own MailChimp account.
Ali Mathis: Right.
Chris Badgett: With these form add-ons, one of the things that make them a little bit different is Gravity Forms does not have a free plug-in, everything is paid. Whereas WP Forms, Ninja Forms and Formidable Forms, they do have free versions of their software and then they have add-ons similar to LifterLMS. So, if you wanna get started with some of the features, you might wanna try Ninja, Formidable or WP Forms lite, which you can find in the WordPress plug-in repository.
Ali Mathis: So, I know we don’t wanna play favorites, ’cause it’s like picking your favorite child, but if I’m a new user and I wanna start integrating forms into my website, how do I even know which of those four add-ons might be the right one for me? Can you tell us a little bit about some of the big picture differences between them or how you might be able to pick the one that’s right for you?
Chris Badgett: I think the best, at least for the three that are free, it doesn’t take long to install the three different plug-ins and try it now and just see which ones with the free version is the easiest for you to use and just makes sense. They’re all very similar in that they, you can put a name field in, a phone number, short text, long text, radio buttons, check boxes, all kinds of stuff. But you’ll find one of them easier and more intuitive to use. You can check out their websites. Just in general, Gravity Forms, which does not have a free version, I believe has been around the longest. It’s like the giant in the room of … just simply because it was the first or one of the major early premium form plug-ins out there.
In the form ecosystem in WordPress there’s tools like Contact Form 7 that have been around since forever. Those free form tools, but I think Gravity Forms was probably the first to really go premium and start with that. But they’re really all … they can all do similar things. And you can also check out the documentation on the LifterLMS website and you’ll see little tutorials and things about how to work with the different ones and maybe that can help you make your decision as well.
Ali Mathis: See, you know I like to stump you Chris, I didn’t prep you with any of these question, but are there some of these forms that might work better in certain languages, ’cause we have a very international user base. Does it not matter?
Chris Badgett: That’s a great question, the best way to find out about internationalization, so, no you’re not gonna stump me on this one, is to go to the free form plug-ins. I can’t speak for Gravity Forms per se, however I know it’s been around for a long time, so, it’s probably pretty solid internationally. But when you go to the WordPress plug-in pages for the free plug-ins, you can then look in the translation area to see how well that plug-in has been translated into various different languages. Just look for your language and hopefully the plug-in has already been translated to 90% plus in your language, which will make it work well across languages.
Ali Mathis: Cool. One of the question I see coming into our inbox a lot is about the ability to customize user registration forms. And I know that these new integrations can open up that world a lot. So, can you talk a little bit about how to customize user registration forms and what these form integrations will allow you to do?
Chris Badgett: Yeah. So, at LifterLMS we build new features and things based on what people want and need and what course creators are trying to do. Lifter has always had a user registration where you could turn on or make some required or not. First name, last name, choose your password, what’s your address, what’s your phone number, but a lot of times people wanna, when people are registering to their course or to their online school, they wanna collect a lot more information than just those standard options. So, that’s where the custom user registration functionality, where that was born out of. And just to be clear, the free form plug-ins, the free versions of all these plug-ins, I believe you need their paid version, ’cause they have a user registration thing that you need that’s a premium feature.
So, if you are gonna wanna do custom user registration, you’re gonna have to pay for your form plug-in. Just making that clear. But once you have that, then basically what the LifterLMS add-on does, is it allows you to seamlessly create a form that people use in the checkout flow or the enrollment flow where you can collect all kinds of information.
Ali Mathis: Cool. And so, we talk a lot about the three different buckets, health, relationships and finance. Are there different ways within those buckets that a user registration form could be used? Could you give me an example? Like maybe in the health industry.
Chris Badgett: Sure. Well, if we’re doing a yoga course, this is an example I use a lot, how coll would it be to have a course that also comes with a yoga mat that you send out in the mail that’s branded with your company logo so that, that yoga mat, every time they see it sitting in the corner with your LMS name on there. So, course plus physical products, whether that’s a yoga mat, maybe you get a T-shirt or yoga pants or whatever and people need to select colors, sizes, shipping address, special instructions. Maybe a course comes with a book or a choice of books or maybe there’s an upsell. I mean there’s all kinds of like … just think of physical products that come with online courses and memberships. Depending upon what that product is, if there’s choices involved or variations, a form is perfect for that. So, that’s a health and fitness example.
Ali Mathis: Yeah. What about like a relationship or finance example?
Chris Badgett: Let’s see, a relationship example, there could be something where the person … Let’s say it’s parenting course and it comes with some coaching elements like some kind of group coaching and so as they’re registering, perhaps you are collecting some data points that you’re gonna use in your coaching calls, either one on one or in group context. So, I don’t know, I’m just thinking can you give me a parenting example? Like a-
Ali Mathis: I thought I was asking the questions.
Chris Badgett: Like what’s an issue that parents struggle with, not you or me specifically.
Ali Mathis: Getting their kids to try new foods. Getting their kids to take a shower.
Chris Badgett: Got it.
Ali Mathis: Getting their kids to clean their rooms. I mean just off the top of my head, I don’t know.
Chris Badgett: Not [inaudible 00:10:28] from experience [inaudible 00:10:29].
Ali Mathis: Right, right, no, no personal experience.
Chris Badgett: So, I if have a picky eater course about getting your kids to experiment with vegetables or whole foods or whatever. Try to get them off the white diet, like the white noodles, white rice, white bread and branch out a little bit. I may be in the registration. I may be asking things like, check off all that you have tried. Like seaweed, what’s [inaudible 00:11:05], carrots. I could be collecting basically an inventory, ’cause when people get stuck, especially I a relationship situation, they often end up in a behavior loop where they just give up and they stop trying. But the reality is, and in a lot of cases there’s a lot more options out there than most people realize. So, by getting that data as they’re coming in, the coach or for the group coaching calls, the instructor or the leader can look at the data pints and be like, “All right, nobody on this list, nobody here on this call has even tried dried seaweed yet, but kids actually think that’s like potato chips”. And that’s all just from collecting data on a registration.
Ali Mathis: Okay. So, another major way that we can use customer registration form is to attach them to the end of the lesson and require a form submission. Can you again talk a little bit about ho that would work and if that’s something that you van do with just the core LifterLMS plug-in or do you need any of our paid add-ons in addition to the forms plug-in to make that happen.
Chris Badgett: What the main feature of the form integration does is if it’s on a lesson and you can override this at a course level or on a specific lesson if you want to, but basically you put the form in a lesson and you’re telling the LMS that this lesson can not be marked complete until they have submitted the form. So, what that form does is really up to your imagination. A simple example is on the very last lesson or towards the end you could collect testimonial or feedback from the students. So, let’s assume the course has like a certificate at the end or something that people really want. You could require them to provide feedback before the ultimately finish.
Ali Mathis: So, it would come in the LifterLMS ecosystem. Like if I’m taking the course, would the form show up before I have the option to take a quiz or submit an assignment? Or would it be after that?
Chris Badgett: That’s a good point. So, you can have a lesson that has a quiz on it, an assignment on it and a form on it if you want to. So, that’s a lot to put on one lesson, but let’s say you had on your final lesson you had the final exam plus the [inaudible 00:13:37] feedback form. You could put them both on there and they would both be there and that lesson-
Ali Mathis: But, which would come first from the student experience?
Chris Badgett: They could actually choose [crosstalk 00:13:50] case. But no matter what, that lesson’s not gonna be marked complete and they’re not gonna get the certificate unless they provide the feedback. Now, you might also not wanna be forcing people to leave testimonials. So, in that case for that lesson you may wanna make that optional. So, you have that freedom. Another example just to go to the very beginning of the course is you could, I’m just thinking about Gravity Forms off the top of my head, they have their own little add-ons. So, they have this little signature add-on where you can literally sign something on your screen. So, if you have something and your first lesson is like you need to sign this legal disclaimer, waiver thing, you could put that on lesson one and all the other lessons are prerequisited or [inaudible 00:14:43] after that. So, basically you don’t sign the document, the form just happen in, in person field trips and classrooms.
Ali Mathis: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, got you.
Chris Badgett: You can totally recreate that in an online space. So, that’s a more creative use of forms.
Ali Mathis: That is cool. And so, I’m assuming also forms could also be used in lieu of the assignments add-on right? Like you could use forms to request somebody’s event essay or short answer.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. So, an upload is a type of form field you can put in there. So, if-
Ali Mathis: Oh, so they can upload a video or audio or a photo, anything?
Chris Badgett: Yeah. I mean even like that last lesson. If you wanted to collect audio testimonials, you could say, hey, record yourself on your phone or whatever and upload the Mp3 [crosstalk 00:15:33]-
Ali Mathis: Where does that go? Like as the admin on the other side of it, if my student has submit a form, how do I know where is it? Where do I find it?
Chris Badgett: Where do you want it to go? No, I’m just kidding. So, by default it’s gonna go, this is where it gets a little different between the form plug-ins, in general it’s gonna go to the WordPress media library, which to get more advanced, if you wanna outsource your media library to Amazon or something, there are other tools for that. But that’s where it goes. It goes there, the storage is there, but this goes to the third major feature of all these, which is if you only have 10 students, it’s not that big of a deal, but if you have like 10 000 people on your platform and a teacher is trying to locate a student or whatever, your media library could become unmanageable with all these PDFs or people … whatever these legal documents that got submitted that needs to get filed or whatever.
But what you can do, this is one of the LMS related features, is that form entry, it lives in the media library, but it’s also on that students … in the reporting interface. So, the place you go to see how [Johnny 00:16:56] is doing in the picky eater course, you will also see the form entries there along with, if you are using the LifterLMS advance quizzes add-on, you’ll see the quizzes that require manual grading or even the ones that were automatically graded. You could see how they answered them. You could see the assignments that were there. But basically the-
Ali Mathis: So, will I see the form was submit and then I can click on a link and then see what was actually submit?
Chris Badgett: Yeah. And this is all the form plug-ins. When you have a form. You can set up, what most people do on forms is they get a email with the content of the form too. So, I you want … And it could be different on a per form basis. Like you may want the lawyer form to go to your lawyer. You could have the testimonial form go to your marketing team by email. You could have the, how do I make this course feedback form go to the instructor of that specific course. So, that’s the beauty of forms in the confirmation settings is you can … It’s nice to store the entries, it’s also nice to get them by email too. It just depends on the workflow that you wanna design for your platform.
Ali Mathis: Yeah, yeah. I know that form entries and reporting is one of the major, I don’t know, benefits, features of our new forms integrations. Is there anything more that you wanna say about that?
Chris Badgett: I would just say that how that all works is one of the things that’s slightly different between the different form tools. So, for example, WP Forms lite, the free version of that does not store the forms on your website. You have to get the paid version of WP Forms to get the submissions stored on your website.
Ali Mathis: Oh, I see.
Chris Badgett: Then you can get those inside the reporting. So, just little things like that, but I mean forms have so many different use cases.
Ali Mathis: Do you think, I know they have a lot of use cases, but do you think that forms can add value to your course in that as an administrator or a course creator you’re able to charge more for your course if it has forms? Like it’s a value add or is it more just like an information gathering add, because you get the data and the analytics from people who are submitting them? Like what’s the benefit to the administrator?
Chris Badgett: That’s a great question. It’s not just, I mean it can be just like a utility to collect information, but it can be an extreme value add, for example on this podcast, this episode hasn’t been released live yet, but it’s been recorded with Ellen Martin, she talks about how course completion isn’t necessarily the be all end all of analytics and metrics, because what if someone came to your course and they found what they were looking for in lesson seven, they’re a 100% happy. They have like a 20% completion rate, but they got a huge success in results because they got that piece that they needed. So, if we extrapolate on that, if you do something more advanced with the form. Let’s say using something called conditional logic where basically the form adapts as you answer questions. It goes in different directions. What I mean by that is you could actually build a form that’s asking questions and based on which options people choose, it will ultimately end up recommending a specific set of lessons within the course. Not necessarily all the lessons, but kind like a personality test. So, if-
Ali Mathis: That’s great, ’cause I’ve seen that as a request from our users a lot actually coming through our inbox. Conditional logic and stuff like that. So, that’s huge.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s where forms could-
Ali Mathis: I didn’t know that, I’m just finding this out for the first time.
Chris Badgett: But you have to think like a form builder. Like form building, I think it’s easy to over simplify it. Like oh, it’s just a contact form, but there’s so much more you can do with it. I mean even-
Ali Mathis: Are there resources on form building? Like are there …
Chris Badgett: I do know that on WordPress 101, WP 101, which is a site powered by LifterLMS they just released a Ninja Forms course. So, check that out over on WP 101. So, that’s there, but it’s just one of those things where it just takes time. And go look at their add-ons and let me tell you what I meant by that.
Ali Mathis: Okay.
Chris Badgett: If you … Like these form plug-ins like for example, Gravity Forms is like a specific price and it has all these add-ons, like the signature signing things we were talking about, but also that’s called user signature or something. We’re talking about the user registration add-on which you need to use if you’re gonna adjust the LMS registration. But it also has eCommerce add-ons. So, if you want people to fill out a form to buy a ticket to a live event and have that be required or an optional part of a lesson, you could do that. So, you could sell a product with a form. You could have registration for a webinar or an in person event or there’s forms that you fill out and it posts something on the front end of the website. Forms are actually the backbone of how the internet and websites work if you look at it deeply.
So, really whatever you think of in your learning path of oh, I want this course to come with a yoga mat and then I want them after lesson seven to commit to buy a membership at this yoga studio. Or I want them to order these whatever, some kind of health and fitness other products. You can design it all and make it as required as you want to. Plus a lot of the forms integrate with Zapier which is a huge feature request at LifterLMS. And if you want Zapier, you can get to it today through your form.
Ali Mathis: Really? Well, tell me more about that.
Chris Badgett: So, look at the different forms out there and look to see which ones have the Zapier integration. I’m not sure if they all do or not, but if you wanted to have people fill out a certain form and then that data gets zapped over to a Google Sheet somewhere or does something else on another website, you can do that.
Ali Mathis: So, even though LifterLMS does not currently have a Zapier integration, that would still work if the form plug-in had a Zapier integration. Is that correct? Am I understanding that right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, you are. So, let me … forms and Zapier. Let me just give you an example here, I’m just looking at the Gravity Forms. I’m assuming they have it. Yeah, so Gravity Forms has an integration with Zapier. So, that means when somebody submits that form for example you could pass data over to Salesforce. You could do something on a Google Calendar somewhere. You could do something in … I’m just looking at the popular ones. There’s like hundreds of them here. So the save Gravity Forms submissions to a Google Sheet. Add context to a Hubspot Crm.
Ali Mathis: Wow.
Chris Badgett: So, do stuff in Infusionsoft. Do stuff in MailChimp. Add this stuff to a Google Document. Send an email from Gmail with whatever in it. So, it just opens up the whole world.
Ali Mathis: Yeah, that’s super powerful, that opens up tons of possibilities.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. So many in fact, you also gotta be careful, ’cause once you open up this power, anything’s possible. So, it’s easy to get carried away. And I always like to bring it back to, what is the learning outcome. What’s the minimum [inaudible 00:25:36] to get the job done, but yeah, it really opens it up.
Ali Mathis: Wow. So, all these form plug-ins are actually already available to our Universe and Infinity bundle customers if they had an active subscription?
Chris Badgett: Yep. So they’re-
Ali Mathis: They have access to all of these already. That’s pretty cool.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, they’re inside. If you have a Universe bundle or Infinity, you can download these right now from your account on the LifterLMS website. But they’re also available by themselves. Like if you just want, for whatever reason, if you just want just the WP Forms add-on, you can go get it by itself.
Ali Mathis: Yeah, and they have a 30 day money back guarantee. So, that’s a good way to try it out. If you try it and it’s not the right one for you, you can swap it out for a different one or request a refund.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely. Yeah, and go ask if you’re listening to this or watching this video, go on the LifterLMS Facebook group and just search for LifterLMS VIP if you’re not in there and ask people what forms they like or what form plug-in do they like, ’cause I could see people really getting hung up on the forms question. There’s like the hosting question, the page builder question. And just see what people say. They’re all good. We wouldn’t integrate with ones that aren’t solid. So, it’s really just a matter of personal preference.
Ali Mathis: Yeah, but that’s a good idea to crowd source that question, because I’m sure different people have different opinions on it, like you said, just like in the hosting world.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Ali Mathis: Well, Chris, I’m disappointed that I didn’t stump you, but maybe next time.
Chris Badgett: Well, we are gonna be doing, if you’re watching this on the live stream, we are gonna be doing a webinar where we’re actually gonna show what we’re talking about here. So, that’s coming up very soon. If you’re listening to this, that means that webinar already happened and if you go to the bottom of LifterLMS.com, there’s a webinars link where you can go access all the past webinars. So, we’re just talking about it here, but we’re gonna be showing that too [crosstalk 00:27:42] very soon. And also I know the guys over at Tools For Course Creators have actually already created some training on how to use these form plug-ins as well. So, if you’re following those guys, Mark and Jonathan, you could find them at ToolsForCourseCreators.com. They’ve got some training on how to do stuff with Lifter.
Ali Mathis: Cool.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thanks for coming on the show Ali. Thanks for-
Ali Mathis: Anytime.
Chris Badgett: Thanks for representing the community here and helping unpack what forms are all about and what the possibilities are.
Ali Mathis: Yeah, my pleasure, glad to do it.
Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS. The number one tool for creating, selling and protecting engaging online courses. To help you get more revenue, freedom and impact in your life, head on over to LifterLMS.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging results getting courses on the internet.

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