Google Forms is an easy to use, free surveying tool that helps you to collect feedback. I estimate you’re going to get 80% of the features you use often that you’d get with paid tools (e.g. Surveymonkey). Unless you’ve got a use case for advanced reporting tools you’ll seldom need anything more. You can embed the form on webpages, or send a link to social media groups and email. There’s no [real] limit to the number of questions you can add and you can dynamically have the user jump to pages based on their answers. All together, this free tool is an essential element to your online toolkit.
Where are Google Forms found?
Forms are a derivative from a spreadsheet since they first appeared as an option in the spreadsheets and the form data is normally collected into a spreadsheet. To get started:
- Login to Google Drive with a Google account
- Click Create button, option Form
- Name the Form and select a theme (you can customize appearance if you know CSS)
In the form creation page, start by adding a title and some instructions. The Form settings may ask if you want to have the user to login (to a Google account), whether to track the username or to show a progress bar. The forms are organized by pages, and the progress bar can help the user to understand where in the questionnaire they are.
For Page 1 you will see the Form Name along with an area to add a description. This is helpful to add some context, why they may have received the form or any other helpful remarks.
Creating the Questions
For each Form question, you will edit then one on their own. You have a few options, the question title, help text to instruct how to answer the question. The question type gives you many options for how the question is asked (e.g. paragraph, checkbox, multiple choice, scales, etc). Each type has its own options for you pick from, e.g. choose from a list you will list the options they can choose from. A scale can give them a range of options, e.g. 1 to 5 with labels like Worst to Best. A grid is a shortcut to reusing scales across multiple questions.
Other question options include an option to make an question required or not. Buttons on the right are to Edit, Copy and Delete. When you’re ready, select ‘Done’ button. You can reopen the question editing using the pencil icon button. One of advanced features you can use to make the form dynamic is to go to a page based on an answer and what makes sense to the user. You may want to add or skip questions if you know they’re relevant based on that answer. The skip works in concert with the page breaks, a layout feature.
For your next question you simply press Add Item to go into editing your next question. Otherwise, you can choose the downward arrow beside Add Item to see shortcuts to Question Types and to layout features such like a page break, header, video, or image.
Confirmation, Response Destination
When you’re done adding your questions, fill out the Confirmation Page information. These options affect what the user sees when they’ve completed the form.
Before Sending the Form, I suggest you “Choose response destination” to ensure the responses go into a spreadsheet in your Google Drive. This makes it easy to view and summarize results.
To see how the form appears, choose “View live form”.
Testing & Results
In our case, we’re also camping this month so I’m going to go ahead and fill it out. Once I do, I see the response page and when I go back to the Form editor I can see the Responses (1) appears in the menu. Clicking on the View Responses I am taken to the spreadsheet linked above.
Get Email Notifications
While viewing the spreadsheet for the form, you can enable email notifications. From the spreadsheet’s Tool menu, select Notification rules. Then you can select if you want emails anytime someone submits or edits responses, then choose if you want an email right away or daily.
Send the Form
After I’ve tried it out I am ready to send the form to camping buddies. When you press the Send form button, you get many options. You can either copy & paste the link to a website, or share the link on social media channels or enter an email list to send the form to. The embed option makes sense if you want to embed the HTML in a webpage or an email.