Contact forms with a front-end uploader have been around for years. But you can now do far more with the user-submitted photos.
Back when the internet was young (and I was too), contact forms were invented. Soon after, amazing new upload fields were built. We marveled at the possibilities ahead. At that time, uploaded files were simply attached to the email notification. For the time-being, this was enough.
Then sadly, innovation seemed to grind to a halt. It felt like very little happened with the development of upload fields for a long time.
The issue: How to transfer images from emails to WordPress
Receiving uploaded files by email made it very hard to automate any use of the images. Sure it was nice that my clients could send me photos. But to use the photo on my website, I either had to manually upload it and insert it into my HTML page, or write a complex script to automate it. The level of work and time involved meant that taking advantage of user-submitted photos and content was often not worth the hassle.
I used some pre-made scripts, and even bulletin board/forum scripts on occasion. These were usually very complex, quite limited and rarely updated. They did what I needed (just about) but it wasn't a solution I loved.
>> Running a school? Learn how to build a college application form in WordPress!
The dream: Allow users to submit photos in WordPress for automatic display
The dream was a system where uploaded files could be used automatically, and without any admin effort (apart from moderation). Where online photo competitions could be setup and run with almost zero effort. Where user-submitted content could power a website without sucking every minute of the webmaster's life. A system flexible enough to be used on almost any type of website, and updated to keep in touch with the latest features and trends.
The dream becomes a reality
The first glimpse of this becoming a reality came with WordPress. I'll admit, when I first looked at WordPress circa 2007 I thought it was about as useful as a chocolate toothbrush and instantly dismissed it. I was used to building sites with HTML/CSS and didn't see any advantage in switching.
But as I kept hearing about new features and improvements, I revisited it a few years later and was pleasantly surprised. I dabbled in WordPress and built a few small, simple websites, but still didn't fully commit.
The issue of user-submitted content encouraged me to take the plunge once and for all.
I'd been awarded a project that revolved 100% around using a front-end uploader for images and content. This content needed to be uploaded, held for moderation, and published to the website with a simple click. When I discovered Formidable, I knew that WordPress was the solution.
What can you do with user-submitted photos?
Formidable has many different ways to automatically integrate user-submitted photos and content. Here are my top 5:
- Images can of course still be included with emails like other form builder plugins. Formidable makes it easy to send multiple notifications to dynamic recipients, and even use conditional logic to define the message content.
- Create posts directly from forms where users submit photos with the front-end uploader. Use the uploaded images within the post content or as the featured image.
- In addition to posts, create custom post types and pages from form submissions and insert the uploaded images.
- Display your front-end submissions in customizable grids or lists with Views. This is perfect for building photo competition galleries. Each item in the main View can link to a detail page with more info about that specific entry.
- Integrate with 3rd party services. Use the Zapier add-on to send your uploaded images to dropbox, Google Sheets, and Google Calendar. Send photos to Twitter as tweets, and much, much more. Use the submitted photos in hundreds of applications.
The best part of using WordPress forms to submit images?
It's all automated! Gone are the days of manually adding user-submitted content. Formidable does it all for you.
These features opened up a new world of possibilities for me. User-generated content can be used to power an entire website. Guest blog posts are easy to implement. Users can submit businesses to a directory, or pin their travels on a map. All using Formidable!
Now it's easier than ever to build forms, collect submissions, and automatically publish them to your website.
I've even used Formidable Forms for clients who want to maintain a blog and update their website, but don't feel comfortable with the WordPress dashboard. Custom forms and Views allow them to create and edit posts and pages in a simplified way, without ever needing the dashboard.
>> Read more: Client-side image resizing for faster form submission
Do your users submit photos and content on your WordPress site?
How do you currently manage the photos your users submit? Do you spend a lot of time transferring photos from one place to another? Don't spend another minute on tasks that can be automated. Start today with a data management plugin that can do it for you.