The 8 best online form builder apps in 2021

By Matthew Guay - Last updated October 4, 2021 -

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It's inevitable that at some point in the course of running your business, you'll need to collect some information from customers or employees. The last thing you want to do is waste time digging through the dozens of online form builders that offer many of the same tools for formulating questions, editing themes, and compiling data into reports. So we've done the hard work for you to find the best tools to build your forms.

Form builder tools are a lot like word processors, in that the core function they perform is the same, but how they go about accomplishing that task can be very different. Some excel at analyzing and exporting the data you collect, while others are designed to make attractive-looking forms with just a few clicks. To help you determine which one is right for you, we tested nearly 30 online form builders and selected the eight best.

The 8 best online form builder apps

  • Google Forms for quickly creating powerful forms for free
  • Microsoft Forms for collecting and analyzing form results in Excel
  • Jotform for building a form from a template
  • Formstack for advanced analytics and regulated industries
  • Typeform for conversational data collection
  • Paperform for creating order forms
  • Formsite for protecting sensitive data
  • Pabbly for easily creating forms you can respond to

What makes a great online form builder?

The way form builders work is relatively straightforward.

You create labels and questions for the pieces of information you're looking to collect, and respondents can provide that information via freeform text boxes, dropdowns, radio buttons, and more. You can also set certain fields as required or optional and restrict the types of responses you receive to have more control over the data you collect.

But although building forms and collecting responses is a straightforward process, form apps come in all shapes and sizes. There are simple, standalone form apps, form builders that are part of a whole productivity suite, and advanced data processing tools that happen to include a form builder.

So what makes a great online form builder? We looked for tools that are:

  • Simple to use. This can mean having an intuitive form builder that you can use to build a form in under five minutes, a wide selection of templates that already have the hard work done for you, or, ideally, both.
  • Highly customizable. Your company's forms are an extension of your brand, so being able to customize the colors, logo, and layout of your form is key to making a good impression on your customers.
  • Easy to distribute. You need to get your form in front of people, and the more tools you have to do that in the way your customers need, the better.
  • Powerful analytics tools. The data you collect is nothing without the tools to analyze it. We gave special preference to apps that made it easy to either analyze or export data.

We also focused specifically on online form builders that were platform-neutral. There are a lot of form builders designed for WordPress—we're fans of Gravity Forms, Ninja Forms, Formidable Forms, and WPForms—and Squarespace and Wix offer built-in form builders and platform-specific extensions. In this article, we wanted to focus on form builders you could use on any platform, so we eliminated those that were designed for a single platform only.


Best online form builder for quickly creating powerful forms for free

Google Forms (Web)

Google Forms screenshot

Google Forms is an excellent form builder app for many reasons. First, it's entirely free; you just need a Google account to use it. Second, it automatically saves your form results to a Google Sheets spreadsheet for advanced analysis. Finally, it's incredibly fast: adding and editing form fields in the Google Forms editor is noticeably faster than using almost any other form app (you can even reuse questions previously added to other forms to speed up the process even more).

Google Forms includes all the basic form fields you'd expect. While you can't accept payments, there are options for short- and long-answer text boxes, checkboxes, multiple-choice selections, dropdown menus, file uploads, and more. You can set questions as required or optional, add images or videos, build a form that acts like a quiz and scores answers, or add some basic conditional logic that adjusts what questions people see based on the answers they provide.

Choose from a variety of pre-built templates before populating your form with questions, or customize it when you're finished with basic color and photo themes. You can also add extra fields and features with Google Forms add-ons—something few other form apps offer—and you can share the form with your team to collaborate on it.

Then, with its Google Sheets integration, you can use the power of a spreadsheet to validate your form entries and put your form data to work with customized reports and lists. And from there, you can the Google Forms Zapier integration to send that data to thousands of other apps. Here are a couple examples of what you can do:

Google Forms Price: Free with a Google account

Best online form builder for collecting and analyzing form results in Excel

Microsoft Forms (Web)

Microsoft Forms screenshot

If you prefer Excel over Google Sheets, Microsoft Forms may better suit your preferences. Microsoft Forms is Microsoft's answer to Google Forms, and it works largely in the same way, but with more data analysis functionality, thanks to its integration with Excel.

Adding questions to Microsoft Forms is fast and simple: add a question, choose the answer format, and type in your questions and response options. And while Microsoft Forms doesn't offer some of the response types you'll find in Google Forms—it doesn't allow respondents to upload files for certain account types, for example—it does have response types you won't find in Google Forms, like Net Promoter Score.

When you're finished building your form, you can send people a direct link to respond, or you can grab the embed code to add the form to your website or embed it in Sway. Then, get a quick overview of your responses within the Microsoft Forms interface, or open your responses in an Excel spreadsheet to do more detailed digging or visualize your collected data.

Microsoft Forms Price: Free with a Microsoft account

Best online form builder for building a form from a template

Jotform (Web, iOS, Android)

Jotform screenshot

Jotform lets you build a free form that does everything you need it to do and looks exactly how you want it to look. Jotform's forms are much more customizable than forms created on Google Forms and Microsoft Forms, and Jotform even lets you do things like accept payments and collect signatures without upgrading to a premium plan.

Where Jotform truly stands out is with its immense template library: you can choose from more than 10,000 form templates that cover everything from contact forms and employment applications to new patient registration forms and market research surveys. While most services offer at least a few basic templates to get started, most of them still require a substantial amount of customization for what you need. With Jotform, you can almost always find a form that's close to what you need right away.

Use those templates, or start with a blank slate, to build single-page or multiple-page forms, including multiple-page forms with each question appearing on its own, separate page. Then add a logo, build or edit your form using nearly two dozen different types of form fields, set up payment integrations, and take advantage of a variety of widgets that let you do things like collect signatures, validate emails, add a progress bar, and much more.

If you need to work in a spreadsheet or create visuals, Jotform makes it easy to do that, too. Download your responses as an Excel spreadsheet, HTML table, or visual report. And if you don't want to have to look through emails for every response, you can also set up an RSS feed to review your responses in your favorite RSS reader app.

When someone responds to your form, you'll receive an email with the responses—or you can use Jotform's Zapier integrations to send the responses to your email marketing tool, spreadsheet app, or anywhere else.

Jotform Price: Free for up to five forms with Jotform branding; from $24/month for the Bronze plan that includes up to 25 forms without Jotform branding.

Best online form builder for advanced analytics and regulated industries

Formstack (Web, iOS, Android)

Formstack screenshot

If your company is in a highly regulated industry, Formstack may be the best option for you.

Formstack offers specific HIPAA- and GDPR-compliant forms that keep respondents' private data secure. Additionally, Formstack will warn you if your form doesn't meet Section 508 Compliance standards—e.g., they won't work with assistive technologies like screen readers—ensuring everyone can fill your forms out.

Once data starts flowing in, Formstack also offers some powerful tools that can analyze not only the data you receive, but also data from the people who don't finish your form. With the Formstack Conversion Kit add-on feature, you can conduct A/B testing to see which versions of your forms get more responses, or find out where in a form users gave up. If there's a question that's confusing your potential customers and causing them to quit the form instead of finishing it, this can help you find out why that's happening.

You can also extend Formstack's features with Formstack's Zapier integrations, allowing you to send the information you collect in Formstack to other apps. Here are a couple of examples, but you can use whatever apps you rely on most.

Formstack Price: From $50/month for the Starter plan that includes one user and up to 20 forms. The A/B testing and analytics features are each an additional cost.

Best online form builder for conversational data collection

Typeform (Web)

Typeform screenshot

Typeform tosses away the old conventions of a long page of questions and response fields. Typeform's forms are uniquely designed, showing one question at a time and blurring out the others, making the overall form submission process feel very conversational and intimate. Respondents can tap a designated key on their keyboards to select multiple-choice options, type to sort through dropdown menu options, and press Enter to jump to the next field. This rental form application template is a good example: you can fill out the entire form using only a keyboard.

This conversational approach means that your forms can be easily adapted to chatbot-style forms, which Typeform also offers. While some question types like rankings don't yet work with the chatbot style, you can convert most forms to a chatbot with one click. This can then be embedded in your site as a whole module or a popover, or you can send users to the form like you usually do with a link.

It might not work for every form, but you'll find new ways to use forms with Typeform since forms can include cover pages, paragraphs of text, and multimedia, along with traditional form fields. It's also one of the best options if you want your form to look great on mobile: Typeform's oversized buttons are far easier to use on a touchscreen than standard radio buttons.

Once users have submitted their forms, you can automatically send their answers to any other app you use—be it a CRM, email marketing tool, or anything else—using Typeform's Zapier integrations.

Typeform Price: Free for unlimited forms, 10 questions per form, and 10 responses per month; from $25/month for the Basic plan that includes unlimited surveys and fields and 100 responses along with logic jumps and payment fields.

Best online form builder for creating order forms

Paperform (Web)

Paperform screenshot

Forms are a good way to collect data, but there's a thin line between accepting information and taking an order. If you're selling a physical or digital product through your forms, Paperform might be for you. It's designed to create forms that look like landing pages or blog posts rather than your standard list of form fields. You can add photos, headings, video, and long-form text to use your form to tell the story behind your offerings. It's a nice substitute for a landing page builder, letting you collect visitor data on custom landing pages for things like PPC ads and targeted marketing campaigns.

This makes it especially suited for things like product catalogs complete with ordering and payment fields, or restaurant reservation pages alongside location maps, and more. A quick scroll through some of Paperform's templates shows you the many things you can do with forms like this.

On the back end, Paperform can also help you manage your inventory. If you've got a limited supply of art prints or T-shirts or whatnot, you can enter how many you have in Paperform, and each time one is ordered, the system will note how many you have left.

Building a form in Paperform is as simple as creating a document in your favorite word processor. Start typing to build your form, tap Enter to move to a new line, and use sub-menus to do things like add images, align content, transform text into headers, and add questions and response fields.

When you're finished, choose what happens after someone submits the form: have Paperform send an email, display a success page, or redirect respondents to a page on your website. Or you can use Paperform's Zapier integrations to automate the process even further and get your info to more apps, like your team chat app or email marketing tool.

Paperform Price: From $16/month for the Essentials plan that includes one user, unlimited forms with Paperform branding, and 1,000 submissions per month.

Best online form builder for protecting sensitive data

Formsite (Web)

Formsite screenshot

Need to make sure your form data is secure? Formsite lets you encrypt the text in specific form fields. That means it scrambles it so that responses appear unintelligible to people without permission to view them. It comes with built-in payment processing integrations like PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net, or you can use encrypted fields to directly accept credit card or ACH data through your form.

You can also reuse form blocks and data in Formsite. Build a standard billing block, and then embed that block into other forms so you don't have to recreate it over and over again. Or you can link multiple forms together, pull responses users submitted in one form over to another so customers don't have to fill out their info multiple times, or even combine the results of multiple forms to view data together.

And once responses have been submitted, you can be sure the data gets where it needs to go with Formsite's Zapier integrations. Here are some example workflows to get you started.

Formsite Price: From $21/month for the Deluxe plan that includes up to 5 forms and 500 results/form.

Best online form builder for easily creating forms you can respond to

Pabbly (Web)

Pabbly is one of the most intuitive tools we used for building a form quickly. It has an easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor with a large library of question types like radio buttons, dropdown lists, and personal info boxes. You can pick up questions and move them around to rearrange your form as needed, and the whole form looks exactly the same while editing it as it will when your users see it, so you're never surprised by your changes.

This service also features a sizable library of trendy, attractive form themes that you can apply with one click. If you want to give your forms a professional look that doesn't seem too stuffy, but don't want to put a lot of thought into custom branding, this is a huge benefit.

Continuing the trend of being user-friendly, Pabbly also offers a handy feature that lets you respond to form submissions directly from the dashboard. Click on individual submissions in the dashboard, and you can find a text box where you can type a message, send that reply to the user, and either mark the response as "Resolved" or "Hold," if you need to return to the conversation again later. It's not quite a replacement for, say, a full customer service suite, but it's a quick way to let people ask you questions or submit comments and communicate with them directly without having to export all your form data to a whole new system.

Pabbly Price: $10 per month per form when paid annually, unlimited submissions, payments, and users, all features included in one plan

How to pick the best form app for your business

With all the form builder apps listed here, and many more that work with Zapier, it's difficult to pick the perfect form app. Each of these form apps has its own attractive features, and they all let you make a wide variety of forms with ease. If one of their unique features stuck out to you, give that one a try and see if it works for you.


But first—want to gather data on the go with mobile apps? In the next chapter, you'll find the best mobile data collection apps—the form apps designed for mobile that didn't fit this roundup but are still great ways to gather data.

Go to Chapter 3!

Written by Matthew Guay.

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