Google forms are a special Google document. It’s a web form that feeds responses into a Google Spreadsheet where it can be analyzed. I can embed the form into a web page, email it or provide a link. The forms application allows various question types including:
- Paragraph text
- Multiple choice
- Choose from a list
- Scale (1-n)
Although it’s not as robust as other web form software like WuFoo, it works well for many tasks such as surveys and polls. The caveat being the form doesn’t have advanced features such as field validation or branching.
By now, you’re probably wondering what the problem is. When John goes to the second part of one of my Excel articles, his browser shows an error message and locks. This means he has to use Task Manager to close the browser. People like to fantasize about their writing being captivating, but this isn’t what I had in mind.
I haven’t found why this happens. I’ve done searches on Google and Omgili, but nothing promising shows. The interesting thing about web browsers is they handle errors in different ways. Some do a better job of masking errors. The web page in question works in many circumstances. Hopefully, the responses from the Google form will give me a better idea of who else might be getting an error and why.
How to Create a Google Form
The easiest way to create a form is to start from scratch with the steps below. However, you can create a form from an existing Google spreadsheet. This can be trickier if you already have data as the information may not match your question type.
1. Log into your Google Docs account. If you don’t have an account, you can create one for free. You’re not required to use a gmail.com email address.
2. Click the New toolbar button and select Form.
The service responds by showing you a starting web form. The top section is reserved for your form name and leading text explaining the form’s purpose or instructions. The input field allows text, but not HTML. The next part is reserved for your questions. Each question has 5 parts:
(1) Your question
(2) Optional help text
(3) The question type
(4) An option to mark the question as “required”
(5) Controls to edit, delete or duplicate the question. These icons show for the question you’re editing.
3. Fill in the proper fields for your question. The screen snap below is the question I’m asking about Operating Systems. While Google form can accommodate long lists, I opted to use the top 9 choices I saw from my analytics report.
Although you can rearrange the order of questions, you can’t change the order of the list entries. In other words, I couldn’t drag the Windows XP list item above Windows Vista. I could delete a list entry by clicking the X to the right of each one. You may want to use “Please select” as the first list entry.
4. If you wish to make a question required, enable Make this a required question next to the Done button.
5. To add more questions, click the Add Question button at the top of the page.
6. You can preview your form by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.
7. Once you’re done adding your questions, click the Save toolbar button in the top right.
Sharing the Google Form and Results
Google offers several options for you to share your form. The first option is to email the form to people by clicking the Email this form button (1). This allows you to either send a link to the form or embed it into your email. The from: email address will be the one linked to your Google docs account.
The second option is to embed the form into a web page using an iframe. This option is available by clicking the More actions button and selecting Embed (2).
The last option is to use the link at the bottom of the page (3). This is the same link you used to preview your form.
Regardless of which option you choose, you should decide whether you wish other people to view the form results. This can be done by clicking More actions and then Edit confirmation. As I’m not capturing user identifiable information, I don’t mind sharing the results. When the user submits the Google form, their confirmation message will have a link to see summary results.
As the form author you also get to see the results flow into a Google spreadsheet. There is a column for each question. Google also adds a column for Timestamp.
Form Edits and Response Notification
Once you’ve published your form, you can still make edits. You can log back into your Google docs account and open the spreadsheet. Click the Form link on the toolbar and select Edit form.
Another handy feature is setting notification rules. Rather than periodically checking to see if people have submitted the form, I can have Google alert me. This option is available on the right side of your spreadsheet view. Click Share and select Set notification rules. For this form, I chose to have Google send me a daily digest.
As you can see, creating a Google form is easy. You may have to play around a bit to determine your question types. As example, I first thought I would list all the browsers I see in my analytics report until I noticed that number was 42! And no, that doesn’t include different versions.
If you’re interested in helping out on my web page problem, I’d be appreciative. Be forewarned, the page may lock your browser so don’t have anything critical in another browser window or tab that you haven’t saved.
Last Updated (Friday, 18 June 2010 19:11)