New Email Customizer + Making Gravity Better

New Email Customizer + Making Gravity Better

Hey, gravity formers.

It's Friday, March 22nd, 2024.

today's episode warms us up with my
interview, covering a new product

launching into the gravity ecosystem.

Stay tuned for that conversation.

It's breakdown a gravity forms podcast.

Welcome back to your listener.

Excited to be chatting with you again.

Later in today's episode, you'll hear
from Joe Anderson, who's building a new

product for gravity forms so that you can
customize your outgoing email templates.

If you do a lot with email notifications.

You'll really like what he's cooking up.

But let's chat Gravity
Forms updates for a moment.

Since the last time we chatted,
a minor release of Gravity

Forms shipped, version 2.



Aside from a minor security patch,
there weren't any dramatic user

facing features getting rolled out.

Some add ons in our collection
saw some minor updates,

including Zapier Email Octopus 1.

3, and HubSpot 2.


Make sure you check out those updates
if you're using any of those add ons.

Gravity SMTP has reached release candidate
five, including new or adjustments to

features like easier email previewing,
effortless bulk deletion, email entry

search, and an early introduction to
incorporating user roles to assign certain

levels of access to different features.

As always, head to gravityforms.

com slash newsletter and sign up for the
newsletter to stay connected for all of

the updates, especially if you're waiting
for the full release of Gravity SMTP.

What would make Gravity forms better?

If you will allow me I'd love
to present you with an important

question, which I kind of just said,
what would make Gravity Forms better?

Let me repeat one more time for those
of you two times listeners, what

would make Gravity Forms better?

Gravity Forms was one of the first
commercial WordPress products

I ever purchased when I started
my agency back in 2007, 2008.

It was one of the most important
plugins at the heart of a

lot of projects we worked on.

Building out business directories
and review sites were a type of

website that I found me and my team
building a lot of even real estate,

real estate sites back then, because
integrating with IDX and MLS, it

was just a big mess back in the day.

I don't know if it's gotten any better.

I'd love to know we were using
gravity forms internally for

these real estate agents to post
their properties on WordPress.

So we were building like a mini,
Trulia slash Zillow for real

estate agents in our local area.

They would go to one site and it would
populate into their WordPress site.

We're really ahead of our times using
gravity forms for some unique, uh,

situations, mapping custom fields,
the custom post types, dynamically

displaying these posts on the front
end with user registration as the

icing on the proverbial cake meant
that gravity forms helped us push

the value of our work even higher.

It was very important to us, not
just from a feature set, But from

a value as an agency to say, we
could do these things for you, Mr.

Or Mrs.

Customer, which increased the value.

It was never really a moment
where we couldn't do anything.

when we were kind of looking at
solving it through the lens of gravity

forms, and I think that is really
great and still really relevant today.

But it's been a while since
I've been in the trenches of

building sites for clients.

We get a ton of feedback from our
standard channels here at Gravity Forms,

but I'm looking for personal feedback
from you, the listener of Breakdown.

Email me matt at gravityforms.

com and let me know how you're using it
and what would make it better for you.

The gravity forms user, just because
I work at gravity forms doesn't mean

I'm no longer an end user though.

Like I'm still using it.

Not just in the tutorial videos, in
the interviews that I do, as you've

probably heard me talk about before,
I've been spending a lot of time with

gravity forms, building out donation
forms and event registration forms for

the Nick strong foundation and nonprofit.

My friend started, I've been taking
copious notes to say the least kind of

driving some of the developers nuts.

You might say, uh, with a lot of
my questions and feedback, I love

how flexible our product is, but
I'm not oblivious to some of the

shortcomings when you really push it,
say into the world of donation forms.

Like it wasn't built to be
a donation form solution.

It is a donation form solution, but it
doesn't have all the bells and whistles

of an independent donation form solution.

And there's a lot I'd like to see built
into our product too, specifically

for those donation forms, like how
far the form is from reaching a

particular goal, promo info or call
outs to users who just donated opt

in of course, and predetermined
designs for the forms themselves.

Like how can I make these
forms look a little bit better?

If you have some ideas like this,
I'd love to hear from you again,

reach me at mad at gravity forms.


Coming up next is my interview with
Joe Anderson, the creator of gravity

forms, email customizer plugin over at.

Metaphor creations.

com M E T A P H O R creations.


It's a new way to design email
notifications, utilizing the

default WordPress block editor.

You can purchase it from
his site for 39 a year.

I hope you enjoy our conversation
and I look forward to talking

to you in the next episode.

Matt: Hey, Joe, welcome to breakdown.

Hey, man.

So your awesome looking plugin come
through the Twitter feed the other day.

I'll let you introduce what it is and
what it does, but essentially we're,

we're getting a plugin from you.

That's going to help us customize.

The emails that get sent out when a
user submits a gravity form, right?

Yes, that's

Joe: correct.

I came up with this idea or started
thinking about actually creating a

product just from some jobs I had from
freelance clients who use gravity forms.

And I.

Pretty much solely use gravity forms
for form submissions on WordPress

sites, but all they, they really
just wanted a nice, easy way to

add their logo to the top bottom of
emails that get sent out to users.

Um, and initially I just sort of hard
coded that in to those projects, but

then just realized that there's really
nothing out there right now that allows

users to do this, you know, in its
simplest term, just to create branding

for your emails that get sent out.

So it's not just dead.

You know, basic text email.

Um, and then I built it out a
little bit more to add some extra

features to it using the block
editor directly from WordPress.

So currently because of the
limitations of emails, we can't use

the block editor just straight up.

There has to be some customization
involved and limitations.

To what the block editor provides.

So currently we got paragraphs, headings,
images, um, groups and stuff like that.

And then I've also built in custom merge
tags to allow you to embed your gravity

forms, merge tags right into the template.

And also have those, uh,
applied to each form.

So you could just have one template
that displays, say the user's

name, but that can work for any
Gravity Forms form you have.

So instead of having to do.

Direct merge tags with
the ID and everything.


Matt: website is metaphor creations,
M E T A P H O R creations.


This is not your first rodeo and products.

You have other products.

I'll talk about that in a second.

Before we get there, how fun was it to?

Work with the block editor
in a situation like this.

There's always something out there.

I'm not a developer, but I hear from
a lot of developers that love, hate

relationship with integrating this stuff.

It's great to see you sort of leading that
charge and thinking in that direction.

Cause it makes sense.

It's scalable.

It's at the core of WordPress.

In fact, a lot of the stuff we're
doing behind the scenes at gravity

forms is doing some amazing
things with the block editor.

How was it for you?

Joe: It was interesting.

So I'll say that I've had some experience
in the past working with the block

editor, you know, working with some
full site editing themes and blocks.

And when I started creating this, I
went through a few phases of how do

I want to create the admin interface?

Do I want to Make my own custom
interface for it or what I want to use.

Ultimately, I decided I didn't want
to reinvent the wheel since WordPress

already had this, what I believe is a
really great editor, what it's evolved

into, um, so I started to go that
direction, just super flexible and then.

Because of email and its limitations,
realizing there's quite a bit, I need

to still sort of modify in order to get
this to work correctly, but, um, being

able to utilize the block editor for
just the editing capabilities and as you

said, it's caked right into WordPress,
you know, core, which is awesome.

So everybody has access to it, you
know, depending on their version

number that they're using, that
was the direction I decided to go.

So it was a big learning
curve in certain areas.

And how to modify certain aspects
of the editor, because it's, it's

quite a bit different nowadays than
back in the straight PHP templates

and hooks and stuff like that.

Matt: If you're still running the
classic editor, because you're

just trying to hold the line.

I'm telling you right now
that I can't edit a blog post.


Or any, almost any other, right?

I do a lot of writing blogs
and emails, of course.

And man, like Gutenberg is great.

The block editor is great when
you're writing blog posts.

And when you want to bring in two
columns, media and call to action button,

you know, in a blog post, fantastic.

I can't think of anything better.

When I go into a classic editor site, I
lose my mind because I just can't write as

quickly and I can't build out those pages.

fast enough.

Now, there's another case about
building an entire website with

blocks and the site editor.

And I get that issue for sure.

But man, I do love the block editor
when writing posts and I'm assuming

it's going to be just as lovely with
gravity forms, email customizer.

Once the users get in there,
what other ideas are you.

Starting to cook up with email customizer
without giving away the secret sauce

What other things are you looking at
now that you've you've got this out into

Joe: the wild?

Sure, one of the main things I want
to start implementing fairly soon

are working on is just is automatic
displays of say your latest posts on

your wordpress site um, because right
now I have a example of where i've Sort

of hand created previews of say plugins.

So like if you want to send a marketing
style email template to users who submit

your form, but that's, you know, manually
entered where you'd have to go and

manually change, but it'd be super nice
since we're on WordPress and dealing

directly with the database, just to auto
populate with your latest blog posts,

your latest product, you know, so that's
just automatically gets sent out to users.

That's a high priority for
myself here in the upcoming

Matt: weeks.

When you mentioned earlier at the
start of the interview that you had

customers or clients requesting features,
are you still sort of dipping into

client services and selling products?

What does that world look like for you
professionally as a WordPress developer?

Joe: Yeah, I'm actually, I've sort
of gotten out of the freelance work

for the most part, but I am working
a full time job now doing WordPress.

I've kind of swapped freelance for a job
and then still my products are sort of

my, my side gig, which ultimately would
love to be my primary gig at some point.

So I think this Gravity Forms
plugin is, I'm very interested

to see how this works for myself.

As you said, I've made other plugins
in the past, mainly focused on my

Diddy products, which is its own
sort of universe within WordPress.

So I'm, I'm really interested to see what
it's going What it's going to be like

creating an extension to a very popular
existing plugin, like Gravity Forms.

Um, I'm excited about

Matt: that.

At the same website, MetaphorCreations.

com, that I mentioned before, we have
DiddyXML, DiddyGrid, DiddyTiming,

DiddyInstagram, DiddyPost, DiddyRSS.

Uh, DiddyFacebook, DiddyImages,


You have a bunch of stuff, all
derived from past client work.

People asking you to do things,
and you were like, Hey, I I think

I can productize this stuff.

Joe: Yeah.

That's basically where everything
starts from the Diddy started

as a news ticker specifically.

And that's still really what most
people use it for is adding a

news ticker, their site, but that
evolved into, um, integrating.

Different social media or other sources
of content to easily feed in to it.

And then different display types.

And then yeah, the alternate time
content, alternate time widgets are all

just various aspects of people wanting
to show content at different times.


Matt: to me about the.

Client services stuff that you do, are
you still involved with building out

WordPress sites that use gravity forms?

And if so, at what capacity have you
used gravity forms with customers,

you know, to make them feel more
powerful with gravity forms or any

cool stories around integrating
gravity forms with WordPress customers?

Joe: Yeah, I would say I've used
Gravity Forms for, man, over a decade

now, probably, you know, back when
I was doing more freelance, it's on

every site I built, and then even now
with the WordPress job I have now,

we put it on pretty much every site.

I mean, it's just, it's very flexible.

It does what you need it to do.

I like the newer updates
with gravity forms.

Um, really makes it very simple to
use just for a straightforward form

submissions, or even if you're trying
to sell a product, but you don't want

to install WooCommerce or have this,
you know, huge package, this other

plugin on your site, just as a simple
product sale is great with gravity forms.

I mean, there's, there's
so many use case for.

And then once you also, once you get
used to all the hooks and everything

you can tap into a, as a developer,
you know, it's just, it's great.

Matt: We talked a little bit about the
block editor, site editor, any outlook

to the future of WordPress, like things
that get you excited as a product builder

or somebody who's building on the site.

Like what is it that you're looking
forward to in the world of WordPress

and, you know, where they're going
with either site editor blocks, or

is there something else that's like
super exciting to you about WordPress?

Joe: I'm really enjoying the, the
block editor and seeing where it's

grown into and also where it could go.

I know when it first started,
it was pretty cumbersome.

Um, and I stayed away from it after
testing it out a bit, but it's grown to

the point now where, like you were saying,
building a blog post is just super simple.

And even building pages and a full
site, which I've done a few times.

I've grown just, I've grown to love
the ease and use of like copying

blocks, pasting where I want them.

You know, once you get sort of
past figuring out where things

are, cause I think that's still a
little bit of a hurdle for people

finding the various settings.

But once you get that down, it's
just, it's so fast and so easy

to say, go from one block to
the next block and edit quickly.

Um, as compared to some like page
builders, where if you want to edit

something, you got to click in here,
open this, open that, click to this

setting, and then save and close, close.

It's just super simple.

So I'm excited to see where
the block editor goes.

I would like, I'm hoping that it gains
more traction in just the wider world

of WordPress because it is great.

I know there's a lot of, Negativity
out there of it, but I think a lot of

it is just due to lack of experience.

You know, everything has a
little bit of a learning curve.

Um, and once you get there,
it's, it's super slick.

Matt: Yeah, a hundred percent.

I was just having this conversation
with my brother the other day,

he runs informational website
about stocks and stuff, and.

He has a friend who's also in the
same space and he's a super tech head.

And he would always like tell my
brother, well, you know, I'd run

it on this archaic WordPress thing.

Why are you doing that?

Like I built everything with react
and headless and like this guy

goes on this whole list of stuff.

My brother was asking me about it
saying, Hey, do you think he's right?

Should I switch?

I'm like, man, every time somebody leaves
WordPress, they're going to come back.

What happened?

He came back, he came back, he
texted my brother the other day.

He's like, yeah, I'm rebuilding
everything on WordPress.

What, you know, what, what
plugins do you recommend?

And it's like, yeah, man, when you're,
cause he was on WordPress previously.

And then when you leave, yeah, sure.

When you're in it, you're thinking to
yourself, Oh, why did they do it this way?

Why doesn't it work that way?

Then you say, yeah, I'm
going to, I'm going to move.

I'm going to move to greener pastures.

And then you realize like, well, 90
percent of the stuff I could get done,

I could get done with Gravity Forms.

Number one, like I could
integrate all this stuff and

connect the dots way easier.

And it's just a massive ecosystem of
education, of support, of plugins,

that when you go to some closed
source CMS or some homebrewed CMS.

Now you're just stuck by yourself or
paying an insane amount of money to

get the features that sure learning
curve WordPress, but once you get past

that learning curve, it's a less cost
in time in terms of time and dollars,

you know, to launch this stuff.

So I'm a super fan of

Joe: WordPress.

I would also say then you're reliant
on some other system to stay afloat.

If you have your business built on,
on something that you don't have full.

Control and ownership of, whereas
that's the great thing about WordPress.

It's yours, you know, and
the community is out there.

It's constantly growing, constantly
evolving, constantly getting better.

And as a developer, you can,
anything you can think of, you can

do with WordPress, you know, and
you have access to make it happen.

Whereas, you know, other platforms you're.

You can be limited to what
you can do customizable wise.

Matt: Imagine switching to Webflow
and paying for CMS database

entries, 10, 000 database entries.

And then you got to go
up to the next tier, man.

You'd have a 10, 000 spam messages in
your form and then your blog posts.

And then, you know, orders and
products and all this stuff.

And before you know it, you're like,
Oh, Why is my website costing me so

much money where WordPress didn't?

So I'm sure I'll get some, I'll get some
fun email for talking bad about web flow.

Some of the folks out there, Joe
Anderson, thanks for hanging out today.

Metaphor creations, head to metaphor
creations, M E T A P H O R creations.


It'll, the link will be in the show notes.

Check out gravity forms, email customizer.

This episode will go all the way.

out before the end of March.

And you do have a special coupon code.

I won't say it here because it's just in
case you change it, but you can save a

little bit of dollars by the end of March.

So everyone check that out.

If you're interested in taking
gravity forms, email customer for

a ride, and why wouldn't you, if
you were going to customize your

emails, this is a great plugin to
do it, Joe, thanks for hanging out

Joe: today.

All right.

Thanks, Matt.

I appreciate you having me on here.