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The History of Contact Pages on WordPress Websites
A Detailed Look at How Contact Forms Have Evolved Within the WordPress Ecosystem – Like this one for Contact B M
Contact forms are one of the most essential elements of any WordPress website. They allow site visitors to directly get in touch with the site owner or company.
Having an easy to use contact form builds trust and improves conversion rates. It’s one of the first things any business should add after launching their WordPress site.
But contact forms haven’t always been so readily available to WordPress users. The journey to get to where we are today with simple plug-and-play contact form plugins has been a long one.
In this extensive guide, we’ll walk through the evolution of contact pages and forms within WordPress over the past 15+ years.
You’ll learn things like:
- How early WordPress users had to manually code contact forms
- The rise of the first contact form plugins
- How themes started integrating contact forms
- The emergence of multi-purpose form builders
- The current state of contact pages in WordPress
Let’s dive in and explore the history behind one of the most essential parts of any WordPress website today.
- Early WordPress users had to manually code forms or use standalone scripts
- Contact Form 7 pioneered contact forms within WordPress starting in 2007
- Theme developers began integrating basic contact forms in 2008-2010
- Page builder plugins emerged allowing drag & drop contact forms in 2011-2014
- Dedicated form builder plugins arrived in the late 2010s
- Most WordPress sites today use either standalone form plugins or form builders built into themes
The Earliest Days: Coding Contact Forms by Hand
In the early days of WordPress (2003-2006), integrated contact forms simply didn’t exist. The core software was still focused primarily on blogging and content management.
For those who did want to add a contact form to their WordPress site, they had two options:
- Manually code the form HTML and processing scripts – This required web development skills and knowledge of server-side form processing. Most average users couldn’t do this.
Neither was a great turnkey solution. Most early WordPress sites simply went without contact forms as a result.
WordPress itself had no native features for contact forms until Version 2.7 in 2008. That’s when the core platform introduced new hooks to load standalone form processing scripts.
Let’s look at how the landscape for WordPress contact forms began to evolve after that.
The Rise of the First Contact Form Plugins
In 2007, Takayuki Miyoshi released the first real contact form plugin designed for WordPress – Contact Form 7.
This pioneering plugin brought several key innovations:
- Allowed users to visually create forms via shortcodes
- Form markup was stored in the WordPress database
- Handled form processing and validation on the WordPress side
- Introduced AJAX form submissions
- Offered anti-spam captcha fields
In just a few years, Contact Form 7 became one of the most popular plugins in the WordPress repository. It solved the contact form problem for millions of users.
Other notable early contact form plugins included:
- Fast Secure Contact Form – Released in 2008, it was one of the first Contact Form 7 alternatives.
- Ninja Forms – Launched in 2011, Ninja Forms brought a drag & drop form builder to the WordPress ecosystem.
- Gravity Forms – Also released in 2011, Gravity Forms pioneered advanced features like conditional logic and multi-page forms.
- Contact Form by BestWebSoft – Debuted in 2013, it was designed to be lightweight and simple for blogs.
The emergence of these plugins finally gave WordPress users easy ways to add contact forms without code. But most themes still didn’t include built-in forms.
So the majority of sites continued to rely on plugins. That was soon to change however.
Contact Forms Arrive in WordPress Themes
Starting in 2008-2010, theme developers began integrating basic contact forms into their designs.
At first, these were based on the same shortcode syntax popularized by Contact Form 7. The forms weren’t yet as advanced.
Some of the first themes to include contact forms were:
- Carrington Theme by Crowd Favorite – 2008
- Avada Theme by ThemeFusion – 2012
- Newspaper Theme by TagDiv – 2013
- Divi by Elegant Themes – 2013
- Storefront by WooCommerce – 2014
These themes all included options to easily add a contact form without needing a plugin. Site builders could simply insert a shortcode into any page.
During this time, contact forms also began to appear in page builders like Visual Composer and Beaver Builder. End users could add forms via drag & drop.
The popularity of these themes pushed contact forms into the mainstream for WordPress sites. Soon they became standard across most properly designed themes.
By 2015-2016, virtually every reputable premium theme included some type of integrated contact form.
This eliminated the need to install a plugin for basic submission handling. But advanced features still required a dedicated form solution.
The Rise of Form Builders and No-Code Solutions
Alongside themes integrating contact forms, a new generation of form builder plugins also emerged.
Starting in 2012-2014, WordPress users had access to powerful drag & drop form creators like:
- Formidable Forms
- Caldera Forms
These tools expanded the functionality far beyond what most integrated theme forms offered.
Features often included things like:
- Multi-page forms & conditional logic
- Email routing & autoresponders
- File uploads & user registration
- Payment integrations & conditional fields
- Analytics and tracking
Many also offered easy integrations with page builders so forms could be embedded via drag & drop.
This new breed of form plugin catered more to marketers, agencies, and advanced WordPress users. The no-code approach lowered the barrier for adding complex forms.
At the same time, form functionality expanded outside traditional plugins.
Dedicated form builders were now baked into:
- Page builders like Elementor, Divi, and Beaver Builder
- Landing page builders like LeadPages and Unbounce
- Email marketing software like MailChimp, Constant Contact, and ConvertKit
These tools all included intuitive drag & drop form creation for contacts forms and email signup forms.
This gave WordPress site owners more options than ever before for embedding forms without code. Contact and lead generation functionality was now available to everyone.
The State of Contact Forms in WordPress Today
Fast forward to 2023 – where are we at now with contact forms in WordPress?
The good news is that adding a contact form to your site is incredibly easy. Users have multiple options:
1. Use a standalone form plugin like Contact Form 7, Ninja Forms, WPForms, Gravity Forms, etc. These give the most flexibility and features.
2. Use a form builder included in your theme like Avada, Newspaper, Divi, Astra, etc. These offer easy basic forms with fewer extra features.
3. Build forms with your page builder like Elementor, Beaver Builder, Brizy, etc. These are easy for non-coders but have limits compared to plugins.
4. Embed forms from your email marketing platform like MailChimp, Constant Contact, ConvertKit, etc. These integrate with lists but have less control.
Most WordPress sites today take a hybrid approach by using both a dedicated plugin and built-in theme forms. More advanced users also leverage page builder integration.
The possibilities are nearly endless. Contact forms are now a given rather than an exception on WordPress sites.
This simple integration empowers better communication and conversions across the ecosystem.
Summary of the Key Milestones
To recap, here are the major milestones in the evolution of contact forms for WordPress:
- No native contact form features
- Users have to hand code forms or use third-party scripts
- Contact Form 7 pioneers shortcode contact forms
- More form plugins like Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms emerge
- Themes begin integrating basic contact forms
- Contact forms become standard in most premium WordPress themes
- Form builders expand into page builders and other plugins
- Most sites now use a combination of standalone and integrated forms
Looking back, it’s incredible how far WordPress contact forms have come from having to write them by hand just 15 years ago.
The entire journey outlined above has ultimately led to the seamless user experience that exists today. Contact forms are now ubiquitous across most Well-designed WordPress sites.
Contact pages provide the backbone of communication for most businesses online.
Having an easy way for customers and site visitors to get in touch is critical for conversions and engagement.
The WordPress ecosystem offers web publishers more options than ever before for implementing contact forms. Integrated solutions are just a few clicks away.
Understanding the evolution of WordPress contact forms helps give context on why they are so easy to use today. The current landscape stands on the shoulders of extensive development over the past 15+ years.
Hopefully this guide provided a comprehensive overview of that journey. You now have a deeper understanding of how contact pages and forms have become such an indispensable part of any WordPress site.
This allows you to make informed choices on the best solutions for your own sites based on the history and progress across the ecosystem.
No matter what provider you choose, adding a contact form should be one of the first priorities for your WordPress site. Make it easy for visitors to get in touch!